18 February 2011
We won't be under pressure against India: Shakib
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan on Friday brushed aside fears about taking on power-packed India in Saturday's World Cup opener, saying his side was confident of doing well.
Bangladesh cricket captain Shakib Al Hasan.
"Our bowlers are in good form, the batsmen have been doing their job and our fielding has improved a lot," Shakib told a crowded media conference at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.
"This tournament is not only about playing India. We have six league matches to play and we have to perform in all of them. If we get our basics right, we will do well."
The match assumes importance in the light of Bangladesh's stunning five-wicket win over the Indians in the previous World Cup in 2007, which knocked the 1983 champions and 2003 finalists out in the first round.
On paper, the day-night clash may look like a no-contest with tournament favourites India having won 20 of their 22 one-day matches against the Tigers.
But all-rounder Shakib insisted his team will not be under pressure when they take the field against Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men in front of some 25,000 partisan home fans.
"The guys have played enough cricket to cope with the pressure," he said. "We are not looking too far ahead. We will take it one game at a time and concentrate on the job at hand."
Shakib said it was good to start the tournament against the co-hosts.
"I don't think it can get better than this," he said. "Playing a strong side like India has its advantages. We want to prove ourselves against the best."
Familiar home conditions that assist the slow left-arm spin of Shakib and Abdur Razzak have seen Bangladesh win seven and lose just one of their last 10 home one-dayers.
The victories included an astonishing 4-0 rout of Daniel Vettori's New Zealand in October.
Shakib conceded the toss will play a vital role since the late evening dew may make it harder for the team fielding second.
"If there is no dew, conditions will be good for batting till the end," he said. "We can't rely only on spin, because teams from the sub-continent usually play spin quite well."
Shakib conceded Bangladesh will miss former captain and pace spearhead Mashrafe Mortaza, who was ruled out of the tournament due to a recurring knee injury.
"He has been a great performer for us over the past few years," the captain said. "But this current side has been playing well over some time now and we have a very settled combination."
Mortaza, 27, has been the pivot of the Bangladesh attack with 146 one-day wickets, including a match-winning 4-38 against India in the last World Cup.
Bangladesh will depend on the left-handed openers, Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes, the fluent Junaid Siddique and former captain Mohammad Ashraful to give the bowlers a reasonable total to defend.
India and Bangladesh have been drawn with England, the West Indies, South Africa, Ireland and the Netherlands in group B, with the top four advancing to the quarter-finals.
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