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'This is a do-or-die match for them' - Shakib deflects pressure towards South Africa

Ngidi says both teams will be equally under pressure if they are looking to win the World Cup

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Shakib Al Hasan: "Taskin is one of the leaders now"  •  ICC/Getty Images

Shakib Al Hasan: "Taskin is one of the leaders now"  •  ICC/Getty Images

Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan has deflected attention, and some of the pressure, towards South Africa, their opponents on Thursday at the Sydney Cricket Ground. South Africa had to contend with just one point after rain halted their chase against Zimbabwe in Hobart earlier in the week.
Although T20 is a volatile format, recent form and results tell you that South Africa are competing against Pakistan for the second semi-final spot from Group 2, with India favourites to take the other one. Shakib, therefore, didn't miss the opportunity to remind his opponents what is at stake for them. He also said that Bangladesh's ODI series win against South Africa earlier this year will give them confidence ahead of the game.
"It is a very important match for both sides but for South Africa, who would have expected two points from their first game, this is a do-or-die match," Shakib said. "They will be under some pressure. We have a win under our belt, and now we will be playing at a ground that normally aids the spinners. The ICC usually tries to produce true wickets in the World Cup so that everyone gets help.
"They have a number of world-class players in their side, but we will try to the best of our ability. We have some good memories against them recently, albeit in another format. It will certainly help us mentally. We want to be clear-minded and enjoy the game. We are hopeful of a big crowd since Sydney has a huge Bangladeshi population."
But according to South Africa seamer Lungi Ngidi, both sides will be equally under pressure. He also said that South Africa would look to attack Bangladesh with their seamers.
"Think everyone is under pressure in this tournament if you are looking to win," Ngidi said. "Their claim that we will be hungry to win, that's definitely true. Obviously, we would have loved a win in the first game and we know now what pressure we have in terms of going forward in the tournament. But to say we are under pressure, I would say it's pretty equal if you are looking to win the World Cup.
"At the moment we are just playing to our strengths. From the games we've watched, we have seen that pace has been the most successful, so we are going with our strengths. We would like to attack the Bangladesh side with our strength and that is the pace. Depending on how they handle that, guess we'll see tomorrow, but all in all we are running with what we are good at."
Bangladesh didn't fare that well against Netherlands in their nine-run win, with their fast bowlers bailing them out after yet another indifferent batting performance. Shakib, however, said that Bangladesh have the personnel to produce another "heroic" effort against South Africa.
"T20 is a game of momentum, so it is important to maintain it," he said. "T20s also don't allow you to have a number of performers like Tests and ODIs. But the performance has to be a big one. Tomorrow is going to be another opportunity for one of our 11 to be a hero.
"I believe our openers can bat for 20 overs. Or, why can't our bowlers again take ten wickets? We will go with an open mind. We want to enjoy the match. We want to be aggressive. We want to end the game with a smile on our faces."
Shakib is hopeful that Bangladesh can take down South Africa's pace attack, especially after openers Soumya Sarkar and Najmul Hossain Shanto gave them a brisk start against Netherlands, adding 43 in 5.1 overs for the first wicket.
"The opening stand will give us confidence. Both openers were quite positive [against Netherlands], which was more important than the runs they scored. We should play with more freedom now.
"We have played against the South African pacers recently. We know what they can do, and we have been successful in ODIs. I think we can counter their plans and have the upper hand."
He also lauded the Bangladesh pace attack, particularly Taskin Ahmed for his strong showing against Netherlands. It has been one of the better years for Bangladeshi fast bowlers, having led from the front in wins in New Zealand and South Africa.
"[Taskin] is one of the leaders now after Mashrafe's exit. He has done tremendously well in the last two years for Bangladesh. He is leading by example.
"We have a very good fast bowling group in all three formats. I can't be more proud of how they have improved themselves and come this far, and it is showing in the results. I hope they continue their form in this World Cup."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84