Monday, March 25, 2019

Bangladesh drawing on mental toughness in Asia Cup final against India

  • Ariful Islam Roney from Dubai,
    Published: 2018-09-28 04:32:10 BdST


Playing consecutive matches in the dripping, energy-sapping UAE heat and humidity has left Bangladesh cricketers running on the empty. Their bodies are aching, joints creaking.

Worse, he hurt the right little finger in the sink-or-swim battle against Pakistan.

“This is still fine. There’s no point thinking about the body,” Mashrafe Bin Mortaza said, showing his body, while walking through the lobby of the team’s hotel in Dubai on the eve of the final match, on being asked how they will play in such a state.

Their bodies are revolting but their minds are focused. The Bangladesh skipper and his team are taking on India on Friday by digging deep into their mental reservoir of strength.

Bangladesh had arrived in Dubai with the hope of playing the final, but inconsistent performances raised fears that they may exit from the group stage of the Asia Cup.

In the finale of the last Asia Cup, which was a T20 tournament, Bangladesh lost to India. In 2012, the Tigers lost to Pakistan, whom they flattened in a virtual semifinal on Wednesday. This is the third time Bangladesh have reached the Asia Cup final in last four editions of the tournament.  

India may have rested Virat Kohli, but they are still ahead of Bangladesh, who have lost key opener Tamim Iqbal and all rounder Shakib Al Hasan to injuries.

Besides Mashrafe, Mushfiqur Rahim is also playing with injury, but has helped his team reach the final. Mustafizur Rahman, the pace spearhead, has body pains as well.

Now they will have to prove themselves in the final after giving their all in the match against Pakistan two days ago.

In contrast, India can take things a little bit easy as they did not have to play Super Four matches on consecutive days. They did not have to huff and puff travelling between Abu Dhabi and Dubai either.

They rested five first-team players in the inconsequential last match against Afghanistan as they had confirmed their berth in the final earlier. They also had one more day to rest than the Tigers.

Mashrafe, however, does not want to think about the circumstances. He is following the same mantra they had used to surmount obstacles before.

“There’s no point in thinking about recovery now. We played yesterday and will have to play tomorrow. Now what is most essential for us is to be mentally fit. That’s what we are trying to do. We must have the mental strength when we take the field (on Friday),” he said.

India are the only unbeaten team, with the only blip being a tie against Afghanistan. The Bangladesh skipper also admits that India are the favourites. “But anything can happen on our day. We will have to be mentally strong and fight until the end,” he said. 

“The boys learned a lot in the last matches. It was huge setbacks of us to lose Tamim and Shakib – they were our two best performers. The boys have fought with every bit of their energy despite the fact that two were not with us,” Mashrafe said.

The captain, however, is worried about their batting that has been misfiring. “Mushi (Mushfiqur) is playing well. Riyad (Mahmudullah) and Mithun (Mohammad Mithun) have also done well. It will be great if the top order clicks,” he said.

In the Super Four match against India, Bangladesh could not even put up a fight and they do not have many fighting ingredients either.

So the pressure of performing in the final is less; the Tigers do not have much to lose but everything to gain. The relaxed attitude can help them lay their hands on the elusive trophy for Asian cricket supremacy.