Mushfiqur eyes revenge against Afghanistan
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has said that they are looking to take revenge on Afghanistan in their opening day World T20 game on March 16. The home team of the tournament's fifth edition is looking ahead to a turnaround in form and results after having been without a win since November last year.
Last month, they drew the Chittagong Test against Sri Lanka but since then, Bangladesh have lost the two-match T20 series as well as seven ODIs in a row, including a 32-run loss to Afghanistan on March 1.
"They [Afghanistan] will also be under pressure," Mushfiqur said. "They would like to do something in such a big event. But we want to take revenge after being beaten in the Asia Cup. Our first target is to cross the first round, but more importantly, we are concentrating on the first game against Afghanistan. We have two matches after that against Nepal and Hong Kong.
"We have found out more information about them [Afghanistan] lately. We have played against them, which helped in that regard. They might know enough about us but Shakib [Al Hasan], Mashrafe [Mortaza] and Tamim [Iqbal] didn't play the Asia Cup match against them. They must have seen these players on TV, but it is a different ball-game when they play against them."
Bangladesh had Afghanistan in big trouble at 90 for 5 but a 164-run sixth wicket stand between Samiullah Shenwari and Asghar Stanikzai wrested the initiative away from the home side. Bangladesh's opening batsmen were dismissed for 0 and 1, and the middle-order misfired despite most of the batsmen getting starts.
Mushfiqur hopes that Mashrafe, Tamim and Sohag Gazi will be fit for the first game, with the trio still recovering from injuries. Gazi hurt his bowling hand during the Afghanistan game while Mashrafe suffered a side strain in the India match. Tamim missed the Asia Cup after suffering a neck strain during the Sri Lanka series.
Mushfiqur himself hurt his finger during the second Test against Sri Lanka and have given Anamul Haque the wicketkeeping gloves in the last seven ODIs, but he said he hopes to recover soon. "I had another X-ray. I will start keeping from tomorrow, and the pain has been less. I hope to keep wickets from March 16.
"I believe that we will find everyone fully fit which will make us stronger. I think it is important to do well on the particular day and overcome the pressure."
Mushfiqur believes their recent poor performance has made the team a lot keener, and urged his players to step up. What also motivates them is their poor World T20 performance till date.
"We beat West Indies in the 2007 tournament but haven't quite played consistently. We don't play too many T20s like the other international teams which hinders our consistent performance. Recently we have played some domestic T20 competitions, where our players have done well.
"We are more focused on working hard, and showing our performance. We are hungrier now. We want to show that Bangladesh can take up a big challenge in this World T20. We need to be calm under pressure, and there are guys in the dressing-room who play better in pressure situations. I hope they do that in the coming days."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here