Friday, June 14, 2024

Tigers’ chance to prove

Misbah counts Shakib as ‘main man’ in Asia Cup opener today
Regardless of all the controversies and the high-profile arrivals, the focus has returned to the field and a largely dry win column, as Bangladesh have the Asia Cup opener today against an opponent they haven’t conquered in almost thirteen years.
The hosts take on Pakistan, whom they have defeated just once in 29 ODIs, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur that experienced a short burst of rain yesterday. Though there is a lot of doubt whether it will have any effect on the playing conditions, it still might, as a bit of grass was left on the wicket. There is also some suggestion that three pace bowlers could well make the final eleven.
On a wicket that has traditionally offered hardly any pace and low bounce, a lot will ride on how Mushfiqur Rahim rotates the left-arm spinners and the off-spinning all-rounders, essentially how he manages the ten vital overs of his main man.
Sometimes, Shakib Al Hasan is more important to the Bangladesh team than his status as an all-rounder in world cricket. His steady left-arm spin will attack and contain, whatever is necessary, while also coming in handy during Powerplays and the slog. With the bat, he leads the engine-room (the middle-order) with his ever-growing precision of picking singles and the fervent manner of hitting boundaries.
Pakistan will not remember Shakib fondly, the all-rounder having had a magical time the last time the two sides met. It was a Test match and the 24-year-old realised a target that he has long held in high stead: a century and five-wicket haul in a Test. Shakib hammered 144 in the first innings when Bangladesh were down in the dumps, before picking up six wickets.
Shakib will be the focus of attention in the dressing room when he goes out to bat today, though he has said that he hasn’t planned anything different for this game.
“My game-plan will be same. If I contribute for the team, that’ll be great. I’ll try my best and that’s the only way I play every game,” he said yesterday during the pre-match press conference.
“We want to play our best cricket, though we are not able to do it all the time. It is possible at home. This tournament is a good place for us to know where we stand in world cricket at the moment,” he added.
The tremendously poor record against Pakistan also came up as a question, to which the Magura lad pointed out the recent close shaves.
“We haven’t won against Pakistan in a long time that’s true, but in the last series we had a good chance in the third ODI.
“We did well in the second Test. This is our opportunity to prove us wrong. If we can play our best cricket, we have a chance to do well at home,” he said.
Misbahul Haq, the Pakistan captain, also doesn’t take Bangladesh as easy prey. “It is really a mistake to say any team is weak. We don’t want to make that mistake. Bangladesh is always difficult opposition in their home. They know their conditions well, in any given day they can upset you. We have to put 100 per cent to win this game,” he said.
The focus will also be on Shakib, as Misbah called him Bangladesh’s “main man”.
“He is their main player, with ball and bat. We are all focusing on him and also the other players. If it is a team of eleven, anybody can come and give a good contribution,” he said.

-With The Daily Star input

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