A confident Bangladesh will look to carry their recent home dominance over Pakistan over to the ICC World T20 proper today. The Group 2 match of the Super 10 stage will start at 3.30pm in Kolkata’s famous Eden Gardens, a place where this present generation of Bangladesh cricketers have never played an international before.
With five straight wins under their belt against a Pakistan team that has been going through turbulent times both on and off the pitch, the Tigers will also consider this game as the most important one in pursuit of becoming a good team from an average one. This is also a platform and place in which the Tigers will need to prove that they are not only good in their own den but also a very competitive side in a neutral venue.
The job in hand for Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Co is a very tough one after coming from an area with sub-10 degrees Celsius temperatures to a hot and humid Kolkata. The good news is that Mustafizur Rahman had enjoyed a full-length bowling session on the green top of Eden Gardens yesterday and Taskin Ahmed rejoined the team after attending his bowling test in Chennai, the one he had to give after his action had been questioned by the ICC.
Despite the good run against Pakistan, Mashrafe said that their five straight wins against them in the shorter versions would count for nothing apart from the word ‘confidence’ against a side capable of doing unexpected things.
“Our five wins will hardly help us on a completely different wicket and a completely different stage. We are very confident and we can do well. But this is a wicket where you can score 180-plus. So, our bowlers will have to do very well if we field first. And if we bat first our batting as a unit will have to click against a very good bowling side,” said the Bangladesh captain, adding that he was hardly concerned about winning or losing the toss.
Asked about his expectations from the Kolkata crowd, the Tigers skipper said that as a Bengali he would be happy if they rally behind his team today.
He also said that he was not concerned about the form of his two key batsmen Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan, who have not been among the runs.
“In a 20-over match it’s very important how you start. It’s the job of the top-order and if they click, the middle-order will have little to do. So I’m not really concerned about their form. They will definitely come good at the right time,” Mashrafe said, adding that he was very happy with the form Tamim is in.
The Bangladesh team will go through a slight change if Mustafizur is included. In that case, the team management will be in a dilemma on whether to field four pacers or include Nasir Hossain to bolster the spin attack and the lower-order batting.
Furthermore Mashrafe said that Shakib’s IPL experience, considering that he plays for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, has proved extremely handy for his team to assess the nature of the wicket.
Meanwhile, Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said that they are ready to turn the tide around on a wicket more responsive to spinners.
“Bangladesh has improved a lot over the last two years. They are a very competitive team now. I think the wicket here is different from what they have at their home ground. I think it will be a very competitive game,” said Waqar, adding that his under-fire captain Shahid Afridi had not done anything to evoke controversy.
Afridi commented on how his players were ‘loved more in India’, which sparked backlash in Pakistan. Afridi later explained that he was merely trying to send a positive message and not demean his own nation.
“I did not find that controversial. I think it has been blown out of proportion. We should focus on cricket and leave that alone,” said Waqar.