Hosts chase maiden ODI tournament title in Asia Cup final against Pakistan today
Bangladesh are on the verge of making history. Today, they meet Pakistan in the Asia Cup final, with the prospect of winning their first-ever one-day tournament. Their only previous appearance in a final was against Sri Lanka during the tri-nation tournament (that also included Zimbabwe) in 2009. A victory over Pakistan today will undeniably mark their greatest-ever achievement in one-day international cricket.
Get set, go: Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim (right) runs with
teammates at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka yesterday.
The hosts defeated heavyweights India and Sri Lanka to make the final. And senior Pakistan batsman Younis Khan acknowledged their spirit. "Personally, we wanted India in the final. But, we are all up to play professional cricket against a spirited Bangladesh side that have won against two major teams -- Sri Lanka and India. So, we are not taking them lightly. We believe that we only lost to Virat Kohli's heroic performance (last Sunday) and believe it wont be repeated again," Younis said.
Chasing second title
Pakistan have underperformed in the Asia Cup, winning it only once compared to the four titles each won by India and Sri Lanka. They won their previous final (in Dhaka in 2000) by 39 runs. Today, they will look to clinch only their second Asia Cup title.
Younis also acknowledged that although Bangladesh are deprived of any star players in their ranks, "they are playing as a team right now, so anybody from their side can rise to the occasion and take away the match from us. It's going to be a tough contest."
How will the Bangladesh players approach the biggest match of their careers so far? Former captain and current selector Habibul Bashar wants them to enjoy the moment. "I have asked the team not to put any pressure on themselves. Try to enjoy the moment and don't think too much about the outcome of the final," Bashar told MiD DAY.
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim wants to make up for the loss to Pakistan in the group stage. "We have the momentum with us, and will try to cash in on that. We could not beat Pakistan by a narrow margin in the opening game of the tournament. Now, it is time to make up for the loss in the group stage," he said on the eve of the final. Whatever the result, Bangladesh will not go down without a fight. There is great excitement in their camp. Add to that, a jam-packed crowd will be there to egg them on.