The hype and buzz of the second semi-final of the 2017 Champions Trophy between Bangladesh and India have reached fever pitch.
A new rivalry has emerged between the two neighbouring countries in recent times and sparks will surely fly on Thursday when they face each other at Edgbaston.
There have quite a few controversies, heated moments, and even heart-breaking incidents, when the two sides locked horns with each other recently and Thursday will be no different.
And even if the Tigers deny it, Thursday's game will perhaps be the biggest of their career.
But when the question of excitement in such a high voltage game arose in the pre-match press conference on Wednesday, Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe bin Mortaza said he wants his boys to go out, enjoy themselves and just play their normal game.
“The boys are very excited as we are playing the semi-final of such a big tournament. Before coming here, we have taken every single game into account and played accordingly. And now we are playing the semi-final. If we can play this game like any other and not think that it's a semi-final, then it will be good for us,” Mashrafe told the media at Edgbaston.
“We have played to win every game and it's true that there will be a huge hype for this game but we will try to take this just like another game. Our first job will be to play this game in a relaxed manner,” said a confident Mashrafe.
This is the first time the Tigers will contest a semi-final in an ICC event and as expected, there will be a lot of butterflies in the stomachs of the players. But according to Mashrafe, there will be more pressure on India, as opposed to Bangladesh.
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Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha and assistant coach Richard Halsall talk with the groundstaff DHAKA TRIBUNE
“First thing is, we're playing a semi-final for the first time in our life. So that is also a fact. And if you're talking about pressure, I think India got more pressure than us because of their huge population. People love cricket in India a lot. Even Bangladesh also. Both teams have a lot of expectations. But at the end of the day, it's a cricket game, so whoever plays well, they'll win. But both teams will try their best, and pressure, I think I just said before that if you treat it as a semi-final, the pressure will be high. But if you think it's just another match, the pressure will come down a lot,” he said.
The Tigers conceded a heart-rending one-run defeat to India in the World T20 last year in Bangalore. Mashrafe however, said they have learned from their mistakes from that game.
“People count only winning, that's for sure, but I think if you look at both matches (2015 World Cup quarter-final), I think we played at our best. Yes, India also played at their best, that's why they won. But still, I believe we have a lot more to do in that level, and our graph is pretty good. Especially, if you look at Bangladesh last year, and this year, we keep playing well. And we've been to New Zealand, Ireland and now here, we have been pretty successful. That's more important for us, that our cricket is improving,” he said.
India and Bangladesh fans are perhaps two of the most passionate sets of supporters in the world and when they play each other, the galleries and social media make for interesting viewing.
But Mashrafe said they have all the respect in the world for their opponent.
“First of all, this (excitement of fans) is out of our control and nobody expects things to happen. At the end of the day, it's just a cricket match. But whatever I say or the opponent team’s captain says, it won’t matter. I think the best thing is for us not to think about such things and play our game. We have nothing else to do,” Mashrafe added.