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Mashrafe: Winning first match important

  • Published at 10:09 pm September 6th, 2018
Bangladesh's Mashrafe bin Mortaza briefs the media Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

Bangladesh, pitted in Group B of the Asia Cup with Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, will fly off to Dubai Sunday

Mashrafe bin Mortaza emphasised on the importance of winning the tournament opener against Sri Lanka to set the tone for Bangladesh in the Asia Cup, scheduled to start next Saturday in Dubai.

The Tigers failed to win the Asia Cup, despite playing the final twice in the last three editions but ODI captain Mashrafe vowed that this particular stat won’t help them while playing this different-format edition at unfamiliar venues where Bangladesh are going to step in after 23 long years.

“If we can do well in the opening match we have a chance to progress further in the tournament,” Mashrafe told reporters at the official press conference alongside head coach Steve Rhodes Thursday after training.

Bangladesh, pitted in Group B of the Asia Cup with Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, will fly off to Dubai Sunday. 

According to the new format, from each group the top two teams will progress to the Super Four where all four teams will play each other.

The primary objective for Bangladesh is to qualify for the next round but both the coach and captain agreed that the job won’t be easy as Sri Lanka and Afghanistan both have their own strengths.

“If you look at the bowling strength of Afghanistan and all-rounder potency of Sri Lanka, anything can happen. So for us the opening game is the most important,” said Mashrafe.

In the back of their minds, the Tigers still have the memories of the Afghanistan thrashing in a three-T20I series in Dehradhun, India in June this year. 

Though the format is different this time, the bitter memories of the Afghans’ world-class spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman looked very much alive at the back of Mashrafe’s mind and the right-arm pacer believes the best possible way to front up against the Afghans is by carrying a winning momentum.

“If we can win the opening match we are sure it will help us to handle Rashid and Mujeeb much better. But if don’t do well in the opening game, it will double the difficulties in handling the Afghanistan bowlers. So the first game will set the tone for us,” he said. 

As Dubai is not a familiar venue for Bangladesh, most of the seniors, especially Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah have the experience of playing in the Pakistan Super League there.

“They have their own responsibilities in the team. You can look on Tamim’s recent form and responsibilities. Same goes to Riyad (Mahmudullah). Shakib (al Hasan), Mushfiqur (Rahim) played there. Tamim played for a long time and performed very well. It’s important to get their input,” he concluded.