No 'upset' if Bangladesh beat India - Mashrafe
Mashrafe Mortaza took slight at the use of the word "upset" when questioned about Bangladesh's chances against India. Mashrafe, who picked up two wickets including Sachin Tendulkar's in Bangladesh's win against India in their last Asia Cup match in 2012, said the younger players are keen to show their best. The two teams kick off their Asia Cup campaigns on Wednesday in Fatullah.
"I don't count it as an upset if we win against India," Mashrafe said. "We have done it before. They have been playing in different wickets in South Africa and New Zealand but do well in the sub-continent, and we know this well.
"We are playing at home where the support and conditions are known. If we can come up with our best cricket I think we can fight it out. Everyone is excited, especially the younger players. They want to show something. We are playing at a major event, and I know that everyone is trying their best. If most of us perform, it is easier for us to win."
Back during the 2012 Asia Cup, Bangladesh crashed Tendulkar's 100th hundred party, by pulling off a 290-run chase. Previously, Bangladesh beat India at home in 2004 and more famously during the 2007 World Cup, with Mashrafe performing well on both occasions.
But given Bangladesh's current form - they lost the home series to Sri Lanka 3-0 last week - it will be a major turnaround if they are able to actually play better cricket than India. On top of that, they are without Tamim Iqbal, who is out due to injury, and Shakib Al Hasan, who has been suspended by the BCB.
"I think we have to perform together and stay as a team," Mashrafe said. "On-field performance will definitely have an effect on our mentality so we have to do well out there. Everyone in the team has remained positive, and we will all try to support the team. Those two [Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal] are big players. We will miss them. But we have good players, from whom we can expect a good result."
Realistically, the team has enough performers to give India a close contest. Mushfiqur Rahim, Naeem Islam, Mominul Haque and Mashrafe Mortaza will be among those players on whom a lot will depend. Mashrafe has now played in 50 Bangladesh wins in which he has averaged 18.84 with the ball. But in the three wins against India, his performance has been better, averaging 14.75 per wicket. But Mashrafe said that he is not too focused on the previous victories against India.
"A player wants to do well every game. There is expectation on all the bowlers to perform. If we can put together a combined performance, it will help us," he said. "We beat them two years ago, so the most important thing is what happens tomorrow. They are without their key player Dhoni but their batting line-up is still world-class. They can beat anybody. We haven't played our best cricket recently, but we will recover quickly."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here