Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Mirpur

Time for Bangladesh to get used to crunch games

How does a team that has for years played with low expectations approach a must-win game? Do they hide behind their underdog status, or prove they can deal with pressure?

Mohammad Isam in Dhaka

March 19, 2012

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

Shakib Al Hasan smashes one to the leg side, Bangladesh v India, Asia Cup, Mirpur, March 16, 2012
Much of Bangladesh's recent improvement has been thanks to their world-class allrounder Shakib Al Hasan © AFP
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If you ask a cricket fan in Bangladesh what he thinks of the national team, you will get a reaction of either adoration or exasperation, and very little in between. At the moment, with the team facing the rare prospect of reaching a tournament final, the dominant sentiment among Bangladesh fans is one of love for their cricketers. Even if they are disappointed, it will probably not be for long. Hope is in ample supply in Bangladesh.

The bar of expectation is habitually pretty low for the average Bangladesh fan. He does not buy a ticket expecting to see the home team win. He goes to the stadium to be part of the team's driving force, perhaps subconsciously hoping that he can make a difference to the outcome. Hope, in a sense, has been the essence of Bangladesh cricket.

There has been some change to that ethos lately. There are a few more critics of the Bangladesh cricket team now, within the country and among the millions of Bangladeshis spread across the world. The fact that the team has had good days more regularly than in the past has made people question why they are bad on other days. Criticism in Bangladesh cricket was reserved for Mohammad Ashraful between 2002 and 2008, when it was hard to find something to lament about after Bangladesh's many losses other than the failures of their most-talented batsman. In general, though, the feeling was more one of resignation rather than anger towards the team.

Bangladesh still lose regularly but the number of ticks in the "won" column has been steadily rising, though the incline is not as steep in matches against the higher-ranked sides. Their recent successes are due, in large part, to the presence of a world-class allrounder in their side, who wins them a lot of games and has been the team's most consistent batsman and best bowler over the past three years. They also have an opener who succeeds more than he fails, a captain who is growing in stature as a matchwinner, a set of pace bowlers who are inspired by a man roundly applauded as the bravest cricketer in the country, spinners aplenty, and a bunch of other batsmen who can, at least at times, look like they belong at the top level.

On Tuesday, these players will face a situation they have hitherto seldom been in. It is not often that Bangladesh play a must-win game with an eye on a tournament final, and it is the rarity of the situation that will perhaps increase expectations as they try to beat Sri Lanka to pip India to a place in the Asia Cup final. The only other time they made a tournament final was when they beat Sri Lanka to meet them in the final of a tri-nation tournament in Bangladesh, in January 2009.

Logic suggests that Bangladesh will start the match as underdogs. They have rarely been able to string together consecutive wins against top sides, with the 4-0 drubbing of New Zealand at home in the October 2010 ODI series a notable exception. That apart, a victory against a major team seems to be just an annual occurrence. So, an India-Pakistan final, with Bangladesh bowing out after a big defeat, is the most widely predicted result of Tuesday's game. In a sense, Bangladesh are once again the beneficiaries of low expectations and hence should not feel too much pressure.

However, the scenario can also be looked at in a different light. Bangladesh will hope that the pressure of a must-win match is something they will experience more frequently in the coming years. They will hope that, given the talent in the country, they will soon be expected to beat top teams, rather than just be given an outside chance. Perhaps this match against Sri Lanka is an opportunity for young players to experience some of that pressure. It is with that backdrop that Bangladesh's reaction to the must-win situation is eagerly anticipated. Will they come out thinking they have to win, or just hoping to?

The difference between an average team and a good one, it is often said, is than an average team does not know how to close the deal when they are near a win because they are not used to winning. There are already several individuals in the Bangladesh dressing room who believe they can win. With the inspiring performance against India, after the off-field chaos before the tournament, spurring them on, this is a match in which they can prove they can handle a pressure situation. A win in a crucial game like this will teach them far more than the annual upset.

Edited by Dustin Silgardo

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by BanglaBandhu on (March 20, 2012, 18:42 GMT)

THE BAN v SL game should count for nothing as SL lost to all of the other teams. SO the reason why BAN are in the final is because IND were once again beaten BAN in a major tournament.

Now obviously the truth hurts to many here but please remember BANGLADESH DID BEAT INDIA despite a golden duck that should have been given against Kholi and Shakib NOT being LB even though umpire said it was the case.

Obviously BAN have a long way to go but for this tournament they have played with more heart, determination and intelligence than IND and SL. Bye bye boys!

Posted by mazii on (March 20, 2012, 18:31 GMT)

Another Kohli's ton, another Indian ouster; I fear that some fanatics Indians don't associate Kohli's ton with some kind of sinisterness for Indian team. Anyhow, resurgent Bangladesh grabbed another victory against a superior but, this time around, against an lackadaisical and uninterested side. The purpose isn't of taking anything away from Bangladeshis; the credit must go to Bangladesh because the way they approach and build their innings was nothing less than a miracle. Hussain's equanimity, Tamim's calculated risk taking and Shakib's aggression helped Bangladesh achieve the rather daunting and not so easy target of 212 in 40 overs. It is evident that the batting becomes a little easier for the team batting second. Now India is out of this tournament and another Kohli's ton went in vain, let's see who will be triumphant. Pakistan after its previous dismal bowling performance against India can't afford to be complacent and has to play well to beat this well-looking Bangladeshi side.

Posted by MDNICHY on (March 20, 2012, 18:27 GMT)

"Team BanGLADesh" will meet with Pakistan in ASIA CUP FINAL and "Team India" will meet "Sri Lanka" at Hajrat Shahjalal International airport ...

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 18:11 GMT)

@Shahidul Rubel : Brother why is it a shame for Indian Fans. Congrats if ur team won but India waited for others in both the tournaments because they had already finished their league games earlier than the other teams. Please use a little bit of common sense before posting such rubbish. India did not deserve to reach the CB series final. But in spite of some superb & excellent cricket shown by Bangladesh, i think India deserved a place in Asia cup final.

Posted by Vilander on (March 20, 2012, 18:09 GMT)

lankan lion what ever India beat SL 2 -1 in CB with 1 tie which india should have won because of 1 less ball bowled with 1 run to get. India lost to Aus 3-1 meanwhile SL beat Aus 3 times lost 3 times. Dont blabber please.

Posted by khurramsch on (March 20, 2012, 18:07 GMT)

well played by BD. infact they were more consistent than others in this tournment. yes they lost to pak but that was some magical bowling by ajmal & gul which cant happen in each game like we saw it vs India. their top & midlle order performed in all games. bowling was good. never let other go out of sight. pak won from them due to some magical bowling which can not happen in all games. vs india bowling not upto mark. batting top plays middle fail . & with india bowling weak & may be tendulkars slow 100 was the major reason in that defeat but 1 must admit that BD is only consistent performer this time & may well take title.

Posted by Vilander on (March 20, 2012, 18:06 GMT)

BD played well, no miss givings they beat us inspite of Tenders ton and they now beat SL, so they are a good team and can beat any team. I expect them to win Asia cup the momentum is certainly with them.

Posted by Siddie on (March 20, 2012, 17:58 GMT)

great work by bangladesh...i expected da same from dem in da world cup last year but dey disappointed hugely...nw i hope dey don't beat us in da final hahaha

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 17:58 GMT)

shakib is the best player he has proved it again!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 17:57 GMT)

Bangladesh meet pakistan in the final while srilanka meet india at the airport

Posted by riyaz6399 on (March 20, 2012, 17:47 GMT)

Reading last night some crap things by some (not all) indian and lankan fans in ESPN Cricinfo, I am feeling to say back to them. But at the end of the day we are Bangladeshi & we love to enjoy not do silly things. Move on Bangladesh team and be Champion

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 17:38 GMT)

Alhumdulliah......its a good Team effort Victory against Sri Lanka. I hope that BD tigers keep going on it. Good Luck Bangladesh.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 17:30 GMT)

Centuries of century blown India out of Asia cup. Indian won't mind that cause they love Tendulkar more than India!

Posted by dan_loves_cricket on (March 20, 2012, 17:24 GMT)

Well played Bangladesh..ha ha..winning or losing....once again it's Sri Lanka who pack the Indians home...funny!!! :-)

Posted by Sycophant on (March 20, 2012, 17:19 GMT)

"For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the message was lost. For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail."

I guess the great Indian team and the selectors will keep in mind about this proverb if they are to improve upon their recent records. Hope they do reflect upon the recent happenings and take better decesions

Posted by raj_gt on (March 20, 2012, 17:08 GMT)

well done BD...totally deserve to get through...and india deserve to get back home...just feeling sad as indo-pak game lover...:(

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 16:33 GMT)

common lanka....you can do it still.........and help us to see INDvsPAK final....

Posted by salman_0902 on (March 20, 2012, 15:47 GMT)

nasir should have been sent up the order. not good planning by BD

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 14:22 GMT)

I think Bangladesh has improved a lot over the last two years. They are are definitely better than Zimbabwe and Kenya. They are nearing the level of England and New Zealand. Pretty soon, they might be one of the top cricketing countries in the world. They have some new batsmen, who have a lot of flair and talent. Good signs for the future. But most importantly, they seem to be able to click properly to win matches. I wish I could same the same about Sri Lanka... The talent is there... but they are just disappointing nowadays.

Posted by TheIndiaRockers on (March 20, 2012, 14:18 GMT)

All the best to bangla from an indian fan.... U have played a better cricket in this tournament. Please continou the same work.....

Posted by howzzattt on (March 20, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

Bangladesh can be a dangerous team but at the same time are quite predictable. I am not sure if they can chase down the target set by the Lankans. Only time will tell. Conditions would be different after the rain and they also have to cope up with Lasith Malinga.

Any result is possible at this stage.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 12:55 GMT)

Sri Lanka tried to give up by trying to ouster Team India and Bangladesh with one victory against India does not mean they can achieve the same often, they still cant digest the record chase India dealt on pakistan, and the victory against Sri Lanka , still the rain gods have soft corner towards India and touch wood India will enter finals and lift the Asia cup shutting the critics comments .

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

So shame for indian fans..they r team always waiting for others to get their final...good luck bangladesh and kicked out..bad wisher...

Posted by cAponso on (March 20, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

If Bangladesh show some magic in the field today then Indian can share the flight with Srilankan. lol

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 7:42 GMT)

@Iftekhar Ali: BD just need to win to reach the final. Bonus point is irrelevant. Good luck to BD.. - An Indian fan.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 7:41 GMT)

i hope sri lanka loose and send india home

Posted by kalyankk1985 on (March 20, 2012, 7:39 GMT)

LOL.. @ Jose Puliampatta : Indians have a lesson to learn from BD? do you really mean it? I mean World champions to learn from some one who has won one match in last 9 months? probably I misread the sentence . :P BD has played very well and it needs to be very consistent in winning for atleast 2 years before considering them to teach other teams a lesson ..

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

Bangladesh will win inshallah.... We should not loose hope.... All the best boys from my side....

Posted by MAK123 on (March 20, 2012, 7:13 GMT)

Very very good and balanced article. Saad Shafqat should take a leaf out of Isam's book and write more objectively rather than being part of the covert war against his country of birth!

Posted by shazran1984 on (March 20, 2012, 7:08 GMT)

Insha Allah Srilanka will win the match . all the best ..

Posted by SajithKalinga on (March 20, 2012, 6:27 GMT)

Good luck Bangladesh! Theyare the well improved side in this Asia cup. More important thing is they don't depend on others like so called world "champions". What a shame world champs. Twice in a raw you have to depend on others, not merely on your performance.

Posted by sharidas on (March 20, 2012, 6:09 GMT)

Bangladesh, I believe, has plenty of talent available. A few more good wins and their self belief will grow, and so will their bench strength. They are a team on the up !

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (March 20, 2012, 6:09 GMT)

@Karunk you have put it nicely. I said it many times bigger population means lot of problems with limited resources. And our neighbour islanders always take much pleasure in ridiculing us even when we win.

Posted by Charon_Koby on (March 20, 2012, 6:01 GMT)

Bangladesh have had their tough time since the last series against pakistan at their home ground in December 2011. Thogh they got a very good chance of winning the 3rd Match in that ODI series at Chittagong- they spoiled everything and muddled the road in the middle of the match (just like the 1st game in the present Asia Cup). They have some very good talented players but the thing they dont have is big match temperment. But hopefully against India they showed very good temperment and team effort.. I believe they can repeat this today if they keep their heads cool and play positive strokes.. Go Bangladesh Go! Tigers, Keep Roaring....

Posted by dudex16 on (March 20, 2012, 4:58 GMT)

Sri Lanka should win this but the game will be close

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

Well written Mr Isam, we rely on our cricketers very much in terms of hope, the whole country comes together when our tigers performs (well)....

Posted by BDabuNayeemAisDU on (March 20, 2012, 4:45 GMT)

Bangladesh is play better in Aisa Cup because they played BPL T20 last month. It has made them sharp in mentally and in skills. I think Bangladesh need to play regularly with big team. They also should play regular domestic cricket like BPL to improve.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 4:35 GMT)

can the tigers be in the finals for the first time? can they handle the pressure?

Posted by lankanlioncric on (March 20, 2012, 4:31 GMT)

even i'd like to see BD win n send india home but i will not agree comparing 2009 game SL lost to this game coz BD have beat SL only twice in 30 years. Yes BD played well against pak n beat india while SL lost to both but u cant calculate things like that. IN CB series, SL most to india twice but beat aus 4 times while india lost to australia 4 times. i hav no doubt SL will win this match hands down

Posted by satish619chandar on (March 20, 2012, 4:11 GMT)

Last time when INdia were in a situation due to a loss against BD in 2007 WC, India had to wait for a unlikely BD win and now, Indians need to wait for BD to lose which is a bit tough on current form.. A good improvement to see from Bangladesh.. As a Indian fan wish they do well and hope this will prove to be a stepping stone for a a more consistent BD team in future.. All the best guys..

Posted by Karunk on (March 20, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

This message is for KingOwl who has written:" If SL had the population of B'desh, I have no doubt that they would be world champions all the time!"

Think about the enormous social issues that come along with huge population like Bangladesh. It becomes very difficult for common man to survive, forget playing cricket to become 'world champions'... It is better off to play, fight and become world champions with existing talent & population..

Posted by ZsZs on (March 20, 2012, 3:48 GMT)

since when has BD's performance been getting better: " the fact that good days more now than in the past" ?? After 9 months with Law, that was the first win! What are you talking about? What good days before the 16th?

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 3:03 GMT)

BD will Win this match inshallah!!!!Good Luck...

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 2:56 GMT)

if bangladesh win without bonus point then they will reach in the final or not?

Posted by cooljack_143 on (March 20, 2012, 2:23 GMT)

Hello all BD fans.PLZ DONT GET OVERENTHUSIASTIC...BD won coz of poor IND BOWLING..Not anything else..LEARN TO BE HUMBLE..

Posted by   on (March 20, 2012, 1:49 GMT)

Once the selectors discarded the obsession with "stars" who did not deliver, or delivered only occasionally, and started picking up talented youngsters and started relying on hard working and committed leaders for the team B'Desh's performance is steadily on the rise. They have the potential (not just hope) to beat SL today and perhaps beat Pak in the finals. There is a lesson for India in this kind of approach, to sustain its good performance over the last decade.

Posted by agupta429 on (March 20, 2012, 1:38 GMT)

Good luck Sri Lanka.. Give them hell

Posted by tj1980 on (March 20, 2012, 1:33 GMT)

The only reason BG has one win in this tournament is because of shameful poor Indian bowling. Even Afganistan team can tear apart this pathetic Indian bowling. I fail to understand why India cannot come up with couple of decent world class bowlers.

Posted by Quddus-Mamu on (March 20, 2012, 0:57 GMT)

SL will do their best to win the last match. BAN must play their best game ever. This is a great chance for them to go to Asia cup final for the fist time. Go tigers Go. There will be 25,000 supporters in the stadium for you all............

Posted by sja_edinburgh on (March 20, 2012, 0:48 GMT)

Nice to find a BD journalist writing inspiring articles for our rejuvenated team...thanks Isam..im sure BD team will put the same fight they put in the last 2 matches...and will examine SL in every possible way without giving an inch...only worrying bit is to find the right replacement for Shafiul (who bowled brilliantly against IND)...Shahadat needs to amend his mistakes/learn his lessons and take extra responsibilities in this match by exploiting his strength rather than leaking runs for bowling with an air-gun..mushy needs to pick right combination for the death bowling..it wasnt the best in either matches..BUT if we win the toss and chase, we will win Insallah...BEST of LUCK BD team...all the best from an away fan..

Posted by gummadv on (March 20, 2012, 0:24 GMT)

SL going to have a easy game as BAN try to battle pressure and superior(on record, Talent wise) SL. SL is not going to like to be No. 4 in asia cup.

Posted by KingOwl on (March 19, 2012, 23:52 GMT)

I am a Sri Lankan and I just can't understand why a big country (relative to SL) such as B'desh can't be a lot better. They got test status ages ago and yet are unable to beat top teams on a consistent basis. I have a feeling that it is something to do with culture. I think the entire sub-continent, except for SL which is an island, has the same cultural issues inhibiting achieving potential. If SL had the population of B'desh, I have no doubt that they would be world champions all the time!

Posted by Open-Eyed on (March 19, 2012, 22:55 GMT)

As it mentioned in this report, Bangladesh beat Srilanaka in similar situation before in 2009. And this time Bangladesh team looks more solid and spirited by playing good cricket against PK and IND. so there is a very good chance for them but Srilanaka will try their best to go home with a win. therefore it wont be easy for anyone unless one team collapse by taking extra pressure... hoping for a good cricket match tomorrow..good luck.

Posted by   on (March 19, 2012, 22:51 GMT)

Nice one Isam. I'm cautiously optimistic on this one. Sri Lanka players have had a long few months, are carrying a lot of niggles and finally have gotten PAID. All this adds up to a lot of them probably thinking of the early flight home :)

Posted by Tokai69 on (March 19, 2012, 22:41 GMT)

Bangladesh could be a young side considering the average age of the player, but some players of this team have already acquired enough experience and mental toughness to beat any strong opponent. Most of the players had recently performed well in the BPL, where they came out of their usual mindset and stressed their ability further. Shaqib, Nasir, Mushfiq, Tamim have already showed they can handle pressure game. Mashrafi is performing better everyday since he came back from injury. Now players should believe in themselves whenever they chase runs or play first, and forget those imaginary figure that only less than 250 is a winning target!

Posted by   on (March 19, 2012, 21:56 GMT)

go tigers go!! bd vs sl = 60% - 40%

Posted by BanglaBandhu on (March 19, 2012, 21:51 GMT)

I disagree that the average fan is expecting Bangladesh to lose. I feel that BAN in this tournament have shown something different. They contained PAK's batting better than IND and SL. They nearly defeated PAK and of course totally exposed the IND bowling. Although they lost against PAK, they showed consistency against both teams.

SL have fared a lot worse against IND and PAK, so the average BAN fan must be expecting something fireworks from the home team. The Shakib/Hossain/Mushfiqur batting is very pivotal BAN.

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Tournament Results
Bangladesh v Pakistan at Dhaka - Mar 22, 2012
Pakistan won by 2 runs
Bangladesh v Sri Lanka at Dhaka - Mar 20, 2012
Bangladesh won by 5 wickets (with 17 balls remaining) (D/L method)
India v Pakistan at Dhaka - Mar 18, 2012
India won by 6 wickets (with 13 balls remaining)
Bangladesh v India at Dhaka - Mar 16, 2012
Bangladesh won by 5 wickets (with 4 balls remaining)
Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Dhaka - Mar 15, 2012
Pakistan won by 6 wickets (with 61 balls remaining)
More results »
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