Tigers eye big hunt in Asia Cup opener

Participating captains pose with the Asia Cup Twenty20 trophy during the official photo session of the tournament at city a hotel on Tuesday.  — Sanaul Haque

Participating captains pose with the Asia Cup Twenty20 trophy during the official photo session of the tournament at city a hotel on Tuesday.

Bangladesh will fancy their chances against red-hot favourites India as the Asia Cup Twenty20 Tournament commences today with the hosts taking on pre-tournament favourites at Mirpur.
The game, which starts at 7:30pm, will give the Tigers a chance to see where they stand after two months of intense training away from Dhaka amid tranquility of Khulna and Chittagong.
Skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza said it is now time for them to execute the plan that they set up during the training camps, which were conducted almost closed door with no presence of media and fans.
‘It’s not that we wanted to stay away from all,’ Mashrafee said before the match. ‘The main problem was availability of ground. Yet, we practiced some special drills, both individually and as team, there. Now it’s time for execution.’
Though there is a major gulf of difference as far as their rankings are concerned in Twenty20 format with India being touted as the super power while Tigers are still among the minnows, they still look to be optimistic.
The Tigers made some experiment in their most recent series against Zimbabwe, which ended in 2-2 draw, giving them a rude awakening before the all important ICC World Twenty20 in India.
Mashrafee ruled out a similar experiment in Asia Cup as their preparation for the World Twenty20 has reached the business end.
‘We needed to experiment at that point but at the moment there is no scope to do it,’ he said in his pre-match press briefing at a city hotel.  ‘For us this is not a mere tournament but also important for the World Cup,’ he said.
Mashrafee’s only regret is the absence of star opener Tamim Iqbal, who was granted leave to be with his wife the birth of their first child.
Imrul Kayes replaced Tamim in the squad, though Bangladesh remained undecided whether to pick him or wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Mithun to open the innings along with Soumya Sarkar.
‘Surely we will miss Tamim [Iqbal], not only because he is in form but he has always been a top performer for our team,’ he said.
Bangladesh defeated India during their last series. Though it came in 50-over format it is sure to give them some confidence before the match.
‘India is one of the top teams of the world and we need to be up to the mark in the entire three departments to beat them,’
For India this series remains the perfect platform to assess their strength ahead of their ICC World Twenty20 tournament that will be hosted by them from March 14 to April 3.
‘It’s a great opportunity as Asia cup has always been a challenging tournament, it’s a tournament that gives us an opportunity, to its like a mini sort of event as far as the subcontinent teams are concerned,’ said Indian batsman Virat Kohli.
‘It’s an opportunity to test yourselves against the best teams in the sub continent,’ he said.
‘It’s always been competitive and you have to be at your best because you have different opposition with different set of skills testing you out. Going into the world cup, the conditions are similar, we probably are going to play all these oppositions at some stage,’ he said.

Source: New Age

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