Bangladesh v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 10, 2012

Our target is to be champions - Shakib


Fans in Sri Lanka may still be coming to terms with the narrow defeat in the CB series finals, those in India may still be coming to terms with the retirement of one of their greatest batsmen, but for fans in Bangladesh, the Asia Cup can't start soon enough. Tickets went on sale four days ago, and the response has been hearteningly enthusiastic.

Another sign of the fervour for the tournament was in evidence at Shakib Al Hasan's press conference today. It was a routine pre-match media interaction, but a horde of around 70 reporters, photographers and cameramen, a large proportion being locals, filled out the press conference hall at the Shere Bangla stadium.

The zeal for cricket remains high though it has been a dispiriting 12 months for Bangladesh cricket, with many reverses after the high hopes going into the 2011 World Cup. Shakib was bullish about Bangladesh's chances in the Asia Cup. "Our target? To be the champions," he said. "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."

There hasn't been any international cricket in Bangladesh for three months, but Shakib felt the Bangladesh Premier League had made them ready for the Asia Cup. "We had very good preparation, not as a team, but in domestic competitions. If we play to our potential, I'm hopeful we can do well."

Bangladesh were swept aside by Pakistan in the one-dayers three months ago. Their only victory over Pakistan remains the famous one in the 1999 World Cup. "We haven't won against Pakistan for a long time but in the last series we had a good chance in the third ODI," Shakib said. "We did well in the second Test. This is an opportunity to prove ourselves."

Pakistan's success in that series, and over the past year, has been built on their troika of tweakers - Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal and Shahid Afridi. "Their three spinners will be a challenge for our batsmen," Shakib said. "If we can put up a reasonable total, our bowling can hold the opposition."

Besides strong opponents, Bangladesh have to deal with plenty of off-field issues as well. The naming of their captain for the Asia Cup was delayed by a day, prompting speculation that perhaps Mushfiqur Rahim would be punished for his disparaging remarks about the BPL. The drama over the exclusion of one their best batsmen, Tamim Iqbal, lasted several days, revealing a dispute between the chief selector and the board president that has now been resolved, at least temporarily, after the prime minister's intervention.

Hasn't all this affected the team's focus? Shakib vehemently denied it. "We have not discussed the issues in the dressing room so it won't distract us in any way with regards to our preparation in this tournament."

Bangladeshi fans retain a craving for cricket despite the regular defeats and the many controversies. An early victory for Bangladesh will be reward for their perseverance, and also the shock the tournament needs to lift its profile outside the host nation.

Edited by Abhishek Purohit

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nishantha on March 11, 2012, 16:24 GMT

    Its good Banga have a target after all ... but I wonder how will it happen when yet they have not learnt how to win a match after all this years in Test and one day cricket........ How many coaches have they had... and how much experience are there players been....? but the way they lost to Pakistan is nothing different from what they have been all the years......

  • Muhammad Rakibul on March 11, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    May b it is a positive attitude 4m Shakib. But they r far behind to b a Champion on Asian level. They r not too behind 4m Black Caps or Caribbeans but too much behind 4m Three Asian Giants. Anyway it'll b very interesting clashes between 4 spin heavy bowling attacks.

  • Kiran on March 11, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    @wiseshsh -- Whom do you expect the media to hype? A world cup winning country or a country which has never avoided a test defeat without rain's help? Before commenting atleast have sense to look at the past record. How many times has Bangladesh competed (forget about winning) against Srilanka, Pak or India. You have won one match in 29 against Pakistan. I dont think you have ever won against Srilanka and maybe won 1 or 2 matches against India. How many matches have you lost? Atleast 100 + on last count. And you think winning the Asia cup is no

  • Deepak on March 11, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    if BD play their natural cricket which they are playing all these, they will certainly be 4th best team in Asia cup. I dont think there is any doubt. If they play average loer than their natural play, they will always remain at the bottome of the ICC points table which they are currently and will remain in the same position even after 100 years.

  • Nick on March 11, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    Champions? Bangladesh will do well to win a game. As a neutral observer, I have expected more from Bangladesh over the years. They should be starting to build a competitive team that can cause serious shocks in the next World Cup - a la New Zealand. I can't understand how a cricket mad country like Bangladesh produce such a terrible team? Yes they have shown signs of improvement (producing a few players who can compete), but there are only 2 or 3 genuinely international players in the team. The time has come that they stand up and be counted. They need more than 1 or 2 flash in the pan performances a year to gain credibiltiy.

  • V.L on March 11, 2012, 7:41 GMT

    @John_the_equilibrium_Nash Wait and watch to see what happens. India would relieved that they are back to Asia. Now its time to take their frustration out on other teams. And for the record India has not lost a test series in Asia in 8 years. How is that for trick? As for Shakib's talk they should first concentrate on making their matches competitive rather than talking of being champions. The fact remains that they are the weakest team in the tournament . So they should not put any undue pressure on themselves. Wish all 4 teams the best. I can't wait for Ind vs Pak matches:)

  • Masudur on March 11, 2012, 6:49 GMT

    We hope for the best. We need from our cricketer to play the good cricket.

  • Baundule on March 11, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    So called big guns are actually protected by the ICC tour program. With the very limited chances associates gets during the world cup, they gun down some big guns. Ireland kicked out Pakistan in 2007 (and Bangladesh dumped India), England lost to Ireland (and Bangladesh) and was scared by the Dutch in 2011. So, anybody can lose to associate teams, if ICC does not protect them. Bangladesh play teams like Ireland or Zimbabwe more often than anybody else and in recent years Bangladesh have beaten them comprehensively, barring one or two sporadic defeats. The same can happen to any so called big guns.

  • rahul on March 11, 2012, 6:11 GMT


  • John on March 11, 2012, 5:15 GMT

    After the humiliation India received at the hands of England, Bangladesh can easily beat India. Heck, India even doesn't deserve test status, their test status should be snatched away!

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