Dhaka: Sunday night’s El Clasico at the Bernabeu and Lionel Messi remained the talking point across the nook and corner of Dhaka on Monday. From the posh localities of Gulshan and Dhanmundi to the dingy lanes of Mirpur, it was all about tiki-taka not being dead yet.
Even Mahendra Singh Dhoni couldn’t escape the frenzy. “I just love Messi… Fantastic game, with 10 men it was always difficult for RM,” tweeted the Team India captain minutes after the match ended.
Compare this with the build-up to Bangladesh’s opening Super 10 fixture in the World T20 against the West Indies on Tuesday… It’s evident that the host nation is surely not riding the crest of an emotional wave that was generally witnessed in tournaments of such nature earlier. Not many are expecting miracles too.
Perhaps their loss to Hong Kong in the last match of the qualifying round has dented the fanfare somewhat. But if you’re expecting empty seats at the stadium, you’ll be disappointed.
Mushfiqur Rahim tried to pacify the sentiments at the media conference. “Anything can happen in this format… We know it’s difficult to make a comeback after such a loss, but we’re looking forward to the challenge… We too have a couple of match-winners in our side,” said the Bangladesh captain.
Trying to overcome the effects of the devastating loss against an affiliate will be Bangladesh’s biggest challenge. “It was shocking,” said Rahim. “We’ve worked hard since… We took a couple of days off to tide over the crisis… We’ve to do the basics right and be selective in our shots.
“It’s difficult to perform consistently in T20s… We’ve been improving and it’s a huge challenge for us. We’ve nothing to lose and hopefully can give a tough time to the Windies.”
Bangladesh’s 43rd Independence Day on Wednesday will also serve as an inspiration for Rahim & Co. A victory will be the perfect present to this cricket-crazy nation. “It’s certainly a motivation. Hopefully…” said Rahim.
The team management’s over reliance on non-performers like Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain and Abdur Razzak has come in for sharp criticism.
Rahim though didn’t wish to read much into this. “A crucial 10 or 20, even a catch, can change your mentality,” he said. “We are working towards this. We don’t look at the players’ past while choosing our best XI.”
No wonder then that their fortunes will revolve around Shakib-al Hasan. A member of the Kolkata Knight Riders, the former Bangladesh captain’s all-round abilities will go a long way in deciding their fate. He has already played a key role in the three qualifying matches (81 runs and 6 wickets).
The conditions also suit his left-arm spin, and the West Indies will, no doubt, aim to play him with caution. Shakib isn’t expecting much and has made it clear in the recent past.
“We know their strengths and weaknesses. If we can execute our plans perfectly, we will be in with a chance,” hoped Rahim.
Hoping to learn from their mistakes against India, the West Indies will be looking to put their campaign back on track. The batsmen’s inability to rotate the strike may have been responsible to a great extent for their defeat, but they aren’t willing to change their approach overnight. “Don’t think that hurt us… Some teams have players who can hit the ball in the stands easily. Some players hit the gaps easily. It works both ways,” explained coach Ottis Gibson.
West Indies (likely): Dwayne Smith, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Bravo, Denesh Ramdin, Darren Sammy, Andre Russell, Krishmar Santokie, Sunil Narine, Samuel Badree
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haq, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib-al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Nasir Hossain, Mahmudullah, Farhad Reza, Abdur Razzak, Ziaur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain
Match starts: 7 pm (IST)