Shakib and Hathurusinghe downplay the conflicts with Afghanistan and Sri Lanka

The Emerging Asia Cup's top run scorer for Bangladesh was Tanzid Hasan.

Both Shakib Al Hasan and Chandika Hathurusinghe downplayed Bangladesh’s animosity against its Asia Cup foes, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

In a recent three-match ODI series in Chattogram, Afghanistan defeated Bangladesh 2-1 before the host team fought back by winning the T20I series 2-0. 

Despite Sri Lanka dominating the head-to-head record 40-9 and serving as the co-hosts of the Asia Cup, Bangladesh won their most recent bilateral ODI series against Sri Lanka. Before Bangladesh takes on Afghanistan in Lahore on September 3, the two teams will clash on August 31 at Pallekele.

However, Shakib Al Hasan claimed that the rivalry between Bangladesh and these two teams is primarily for the spectators since the players don’t take it as seriously now that they have become acquainted through international competition and franchise leagues.

“I don’t like the word ‘rivalry’,”

Shakib said.

“We have been competitive against both these teams recently. They try their hardest to win; we also give it our all. These things are good for the fans. It is good for the game. We also want it to be this way. We want to win at the end of the day. Since we all know each other, there’s not much rivalry within the players.”

Bangladesh’s head coach Hathurusinghe echoed Shakib’s thoughts. “I’m not aware of the rivalry, but then, lately, those two teams played really good games against each other, especially in the previous Asia Cups,”

he said.

“So, I think both teams give us a good challenge.

“At the same time, I think we had some success against them in the recent past. So we don’t take the rivalry into account, but our strategy against both teams is [focused on] how we can get an advantage.”

The key question for Bangladesh in the Asia Cup is whether they will play with five or six bowlers. Even though Hathurusinghe noted that the bowlers have recently focused heavily on their batting, one additional bowler will result in a lengthier tail for them.

“Not by chance, but by condition, we might play that kind of combination [six bowlers]. We keep that in mind. The bowlers trained on their batting a lot in probably the last two months, three months with our skill coaches.

“Taskin [Ahmed] improved a lot [as a batter]. He has given us evidence as well against England. He closed the game out. At the same time, if you remember, Shoriful [Islam] showed against Ireland and the Afghanistan game what he could do, and got us over the line. Other batsmen also work hard. To name a few, Hasan Mahmud has come a long way and Fizz [Mustafizur Rahman], in his own way, is hitting big, big, big shots.”

Shakib is aware that Ebadot Hossain‘s absence will be a setback for his team because Ebadot was unable to recuperate from the knee injury he had in the match against Afghanistan in July.

“We have had good preparation but it is unfortunate that Ebadot isn’t in the side,”

“He was quite an important member of the team. It is a setback.

“I still, however, believe that we can reach far with this team. We have to qualify first. We want to take it one match at a time. We aren’t thinking too far ahead. We will try to get a good result, and win every game.”

Tanzid Hasan, the left-handed opener whose nickname is ironically Tamim and who recently finished as Bangladesh’s highest run-getter in the Emerging Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, was also included, which thrilled Shakib. Tanzid Hasan has a nickname of Tamim.

“The team and I are quite confident about Tanzid’s ability,”

Shakib said.

“It doesn’t mean that he won’t be a good player if he doesn’t do well in two or four matches. The opposite is also true. There’s a lot of time in hand.

“I want him to enjoy the game and the environment around the team. We will try to make him feel as comfortable as possible. If he feels that way, he can do something good for Bangladesh.”

Eight cricketers from Bangladesh’s Under-19 World Cup-winning team from 2020 have been called up to the senior team across all forms, including Tanzid and Tanzim Hasan Sakib, the right-arm fast bowler who succeeded Ebadot. They bring their winning mindset from the World Cup to the locker room, according to Shakib, so it’s wonderful to have them in the team.

“They have won the World Cup once, so they have the winning mentality. They can inspire our team to do something major, too. They want to win, so this is something vital for a team. I am hopeful that they bring this mentality to the team, which will help us build the dressing room environment as a result.”