Asia Cup 2016 February 23, 2016

Shastri calls for winning starts from India

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We need to start well - Shastri

There is theatre in a counterattack and India have played the protagonist for a while now. They went down to Australia in the five-match ODI series but came back with T20I wins to square the eight-match limited-overs tour. Against Sri Lanka at home, they lost the first match before wrapping up a 2-1 scoreline and another trophy. Team director Ravi Shastri, however, has had enough of that. He prefers India buck up and begins series with wins as well.

"We don't want to always come from behind. Sometimes we want to start also well. So hopefully we'll be looking to do that in this tournament," he told reporters in Fatullah where the Indian team trained ahead of the opening match of the Asia Cup's main round. "Like I said, every game from now is important before the World Cup. Yes, we are playing the Asia Cup but the momentum is good so it's important to keep that momentum going."

Shastri has been the man the BCCI have turned to to help the Indian team come back from unfavourable results. He was appointed the team's cricket manager in 2007 in the wake of a first-round exit at the World Cup. His current and rolling post of team director was created in August 2014 as a response to India's poor form on overseas tours. A few winning starts and the ability to build on them can be the best outcome for Shastri and the team going into a World T20 at home.

India's first challenge in the Asia Cup will come from the Bangladesh, who were near unstoppable during the last meeting between the two teams. Mustafizur Rahman claimed five wickets on ODI debut and then six more in the next game to spearhead a 2-1 victory. Shastri, however, appears quite comfortable a repeat of that will not happen.

"That was eight months ago, I've already forgotten about it," he said. "There's been plenty of cricket since. Ask about what's been going on in the last two months. Anything before that, I don't have in my memory."

Shastri is more than aware of the hosts' threat though, after a breakout 2015 when they reached their first World Cup quarter-final and secured maiden series wins over Pakistan, India and South Africa. "I've seen cricket in Bangladesh grow, I've come here right through the 90s as a broadcaster. I'm happy to see the way cricket has developed and I'm happy to see the Bangladesh has evolved as a team. No team can take them lightly as they showed last year playing one-day cricket and tribute to them. So they have the respect of every opposition and India will be no different."

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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