POST TIME: 7 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Mashrafe looks for a winning start
Super Four primary goal for Tigers
Sports Reporter

Mashrafe  looks for a winning start

Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (R) speaks at a press conference at the BCB media room of Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in the capital yesterday as team head coach Steve Rhodes looks on. BCB Photo

Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza stressed on to have a good start in the Asia Cup to gain the momentum and carry it to the match against Afghanistan, knowing that how the threat of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman who tormented them three months ago in a T20 series looms large.

Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman were instrumental in inflicting a 3-0 whitewash on Bangladesh in a T20 series in Dehradun, a result that sparked a huge uproar in the country.

Though the format is different, the ghosts of Rashid and Mujeeb looked very much alive at the back of Mashrafe's mind ahead of the Asia Cup.

Mashrafe and company will start their campaign against Sri Lanka, another tough side in their group but according to the captain the best way to go against Afghanistan is by carrying a winning momentum.

“If you look at the bowling strength of Afghanistan and all-round potency of the Sri Lankans, anything can happen. So for us the opening game is the most important,'' Mashrafe said in the official pre-tournament press conference yesterday at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.

“If we can do well in the opening game we have a chance to progress further in the tournament.”

Having been runners-up twice in the last three editions of the tournament, Bangladesh were believed to have an edge as far as their chances are concerned but the new format sees two teams from each group will advance second round known as Super Four in the tournament. The Super Four  looks to be the primary goal for Bangladesh.

Even though Bangladesh had already established them as one of the premier ODI sides in the world, Mashrafe knows the task is tough in a scorching heat in UAE as the weather also will give Sri Lanka and Afghanistan an edge.

While those two teams have played in UAE recently, Bangladesh will be playing in this country after 23 years. However players like Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad are experienced to play here due to their involvement with Pakistan Super League (PSL).  Keeping aside those negative factors, Mashrafe solely focused on the opening game, knowing that Bangladesh basically are momentum-based team as when they get the momentum they can hit even a jackpot.

“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 be even twice the more difficult to beat them so the first game will set the tone for us,” the skipper believed.

But while the talk is surrounding to Rashid, given his impact in the last T20 series, Mashrafe believed the different format now will give them and edge over the wily leg-spinner.

“Rashid Khan is definitely a world class bowler but the format is different now. In T20 cricket, there is pressure to play shots but in ODI cricket, the batsmen could see him two or three overs before deciding on when to attack or defend him. The most important is to pick up his googly and leg-spin. I think when the batsman would pick him up, it will be easier for him.”

Mashrafe didn’t single out any opposition’s name particularly for their threat in the Asia Cup as he again said that it would all depend on the opening game.

''I think every team is a threat for us. We have to beat Afghanistan and Sri Lanka first to place us in the Super Four. Afghanistan have strong bowling attack while Sri Lanka’s all-round ability is known to all. Again it all depends on how we start the tournament.”