Like world leaders at a diplomatic summit, Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes and Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib uttered grand words in their press conferences at the Hampshire Bowl. Rhodes said he was proud of Afghanistan's rise in cricket and that he respects them a lot, while Naib praised Bangladesh profusely: for their start at this World Cup, for the form Shakib Al Hasan has shown, and even their domestic cricket.
But amidst all these niceties, Rhodes let slip a "we are ready to take them on". Naib, in the middle of a long answer in Pashto, slipped in a couple of cheeky lines in Urdu.
"Hum to dube hai sanam; tujhe bhi leke dubenge. (We are drowning, but we will take you with us.)"
Having lost all six of their matches so far, Afghanistan aren't going to make it to the semi-finals. And so, Naib reasoned, they might as well take Bangladesh down with them.
The statement, right at the end of the press conference, confirmed that there will be needle in the contest. And why not, for this is a proper rivalry. Bangladesh are 4-3 ahead in the head-to-head between the two sides in ODIs, but if you throw in T20Is, Afghanistan are 6-5 ahead. Last year, Afghanistan crushed Bangladesh in a T20I series in Dehradun, before handing them a 136-run hammering in the Asia Cup. But later in the same tournament, Bangladesh edged them out by three runs in a classic contest, which put them on course for the final.
These meetings have produced their fair share of altercations. The moment Bangladesh won that last game in the Asia Cup, Mushfiqur Rahim mimicked Mohammad Shahzad's dance routine from the Dehradun T20Is, where he had led the Nagin dance. During the 2014 World T20 game, Shahzad got into a tangle with Tamim Iqbal, and Dawlat Zadran with Tamim and Shakib. Even during a BPL game three years ago, Shahzad and Sabbir Rahman had to be separated during an on-field altercation.
In terms of the on-field contest, it seems to be a "new kid on the block" thing between these two teams, but it seems to be largely confined to the field of play. Away from it, there's a lot of bonhomie. Before Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan became T20 globetrotters, they cut their teeth in Bangladesh's domestic competitions like the BPL and the Dhaka Premier League. The likes of Rahmat Shah, Shahzad, Najibullah Zadran, Naib and Mujeeb Ur Rahman have either played in the DPL or the BPL, or both. There's not just great demand for Afghan cricketers in Bangladesh, but respect too.
Recently, Bangladesh inadvertently helped Afghanistan's cricket in one way. When they passed up on Phil Simmons as head coach last year, Afghanistan took him on, and by all accounts it has helped them in their progress into the World Cup through the qualifiers. Simmons has generally made his name by lifting struggling sides.
But there has been a sense of unease among decision-makers in the BCB about Afghanistan. Bangladesh should do their bit to help the two newest Test teams, but in the next three years they are scheduled to play Afghanistan in just one Test, three ODIs and four T20Is split over two bilateral series - in October 2019 and February 2022.
These two closely-matched teams don't play each other as often as they should. Given that their few meetings have often been tensely fought, more frequent matches won't just help the teams grow individually, but also give their fans a rivalry to get hooked to. On Monday, sparks will most certainly fly in Southampton - sink, swim or drown.