Bangladesh are upbeat to overcome the tough challenge of Sri Lanka and Afghanistan as they set their initial goal to move into the Super Four stage in Asia Cup.
The Tigers played the final of Asia Cup three times with the last one being in 2018. But ahead of facing off Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in the group phase, the past experience against those two teams came to the fore, making the rivalry in group stage all interesting one, reports BSS.
During the Nidahas Trophy in 2018 in Sri Lanka, the match between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka turned out to be tempestuous one as the players of both the team were engaged in verbal spat.
Coincidentally Hathurusingha was the coach of Sri Lanka when Bangladesh faced off the hosts in Nidahas Trophy's match.
Bangladesh dramatically beat Sri Lanka in this match to move to the final but it seemed the defeat was hard to swallow for the Lankans.
The Bangladesh players also had wild celebration which Hathurusingha, the then coach of Sri Lanka, apparently didn't like.
As the things came to the fore, Captain Shakib Al Hasan and head coach Chandika Hathurusingha brushed aside the bitter experience in Sri Lanka's backyard five years ago, saying that the team solely focused on bringing up their best result in the regional tournament, forgetting what happened in the past.
Meanwhile Afghanistan, another team which beat Bangladesh in a three-match series just two months ago at their own backyard will also face the team.
It is expected Bangladesh would be highly motivated when they face off those two opponents in the group phase.
But Shakib Al Hasan said he wants to win those two matches to confirm the Super Four, rather thinking about their past encounters.
"I don't like the term rivalry that much. We've always had competitive encounters which is good for the crowd and for cricket. The players don't feel any such rivalry. The important thing for the players is to win for their countries," Shakib Al Hasan said on Saturday.
Hathurusingha echoed the same, saying: "I'm not aware of the rivalry, but then, lately, those two teams played really good games against each other, especially in the previous Asia Cups."
"So, I think both teams give us a good challenge. But at the same time, I think we had some success against them in the recent past. So, we don't take the rivalry into account, but our strategy against both teams is how we can get an advantage."
Such was the format that even a victory would not guarantee the Super Four stage. So both Shakib and Hathurusingha were aware about the fact that they would be relaxed with just a single victory.
"Our aim is to qualify for the second round first. As you said, we are playing in Sri Lanka against Sri Lanka. They're a very good team at their home condition. And then, we are playing Afghanistan in Pakistan and lately, they played here and they won the series. So, there are big challenges, but we are up for that challenge," Hathurusingha said.
"Our plan and preparation right at this moment solely revolve around Asia Cup. If I make it short, the only target is now to beat Sri Lanka and Afghanistan in a bid to move to the Super Four," Shakib said.