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Spunky Bangladesh banks on frenzied support

India looks to have all bases covered but host will fancy its chances in title clash

Spunky Bangladesh banks on frenzied support - Cricket News
Bangladesh is a much better side when in familiar environs is no secret. The 2-1 One-Day International series win in 2015 is still fresh in everyone’s mind.
The day before a big match is usually spent in putting in the final yards at training, enough relaxation, talking strategy.
All of that was certainly on the agenda for Bangladesh and India on the eve of the Asia Cup 2016 final, to be played at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on Sunday (March 6), but the frenzy that has built around the match has affected everyone as well. Local media reports say the demand for tickets has hit an unprecedented high – it’s almost the biggest day in cricket in this small country, and the excitement is palpable.
What goes on outside the stadium doesn’t usually affect the players much, cocooned as they are in the team hotel or at the practice facilities, but everyone here knows that come match time, at least 25,000 people will be shouting the house down inside the Sher-e-Bangla. It’s almost like a 12th man for Bangladesh. It can be a bit intimidating for a visiting team.
“We're used to noise. Let there be 100% support for the home team. Who cares? When you play at that level, you are immune to that. You can use it to your advantage as well. You can be more geed up and show that you can play,” said a typically gung-ho Ravi Shastri, the Indian team director.
Everything the Indian team has done in recent times suggests that Shastri knows what he is talking about, but for a team with quite a few new players, it might not be easy.

In the other camp, too, the crowd factor could cut both ways. The passion of the local fans is a source of great motivation for the Bangladesh boys, but emotions change with each turn in a match, and Mashrafe Mortaza knows very well that support of that kind could easily turn to hostility.
“Our biggest strength is the support we get from the crowd. It has always been the case,” said the Bangladesh captain, whose popularity is at an all-time high and could well go through the roof if he can orchestrate an upset win for his team on the morrow. “We feel motivated by our fans. Their contribution, their sacrifices can never be forgotten. So we always want to make our fans happy, do something for them.”
Whether players from either side are cowed down by the crowd or motivated by it is up to them, but the fact that Bangladesh is a much better side when in familiar environs is no secret. The 2-1 One-Day International series win in 2015 is still fresh in everyone’s mind, but the man who scripted it, Mustafizur Rahman, isn’t around. His side strain came as a big blow to Bangladesh’s plans, but it got a boost when Tamim Iqbal joined the team after having missed the first part of the Asia Cup because of the birth of his first child. And Taskin Ahmed ensured that Mustafizur’s absence wasn’t felt too much against Pakistan, who the home side beat to reach the final.

At various stages of the tournament, different people have put their hands up for Bangladesh. Apart from Taskin and Mustafizur, Al-Amin Hossain has been one of their unsung heroes, picking up ten wickets from four matches, almost always striking at the start and at the death, though he has tended to be expensive. Sabbir Rahman, meanwhile, played probably the best innings of the tournament, a belligerent 80 from 54 balls that took Bangladesh past Sri Lanka. Mahmudullah has played good hands too, while Soumya Sarkar looked like he had run into some form in the last game, against Pakistan.
But India is a huge and powerful force, a massive boulder that has hurtled down crushing everything in its path. In the very first game of the tournament, against Bangladesh, it looked out of sorts as it laboured to 97 for 4 after 15 overs. From there, it muscled its way to 166 for 6, riding on Rohit Sharma’s 83, and hasn’t looked back at all since.
So formidable has it been that no cricketing logic suggests that Bangladesh is going to best it, come Sunday night. However, there is an iffy cog in a wheel spinning beautifully in Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. He has got runs from time to time, but has been a bit too tentative for the most part. India is hoping he gets back to where he needs to be by the time the ICC World T20 2016 arrives, but that’s a weakness the Bangladesh bowlers would be looking to exploit. There are no other visible chinks anyway.

Bangladesh is about no little skill but it’s its spirit that takes it where mere talent might not. That, and the support it will get, is making it hope for something out of the ordinary. It knows it is the underdog, but that means it has nothing to lose but a trophy no one gave it a chance of winning when the tournament started. Failure would be disappointing, but probably not gutting. But success at a format it has been unimpressive in till before this tournament could well change its world.
There was an injury cloud over Shakib Al Hasan, who was hit by a ball on the left thigh during training on Friday. Bayjedul Islam, the Bangladesh physio, confirmed that Shakib was feeling some discomfort, but was confident that he would recover in time for the match.
Bangladesh will want the experienced allrounder to be available for the final act of what has been a dream run. One fantastic innings. An outstanding bowling spell. A crucial run out. If enough of those moments go Bangladesh’s way on a green-tinged pitch that could well change colour come Sunday evening, it’s game on. But India might just have far too much firepower to allow that to happen.
Teams (from):
Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Nasir Hossain, Nurul Hasan (wk), Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed.
India: MS Dhoni (capt, wk), R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh.

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