D-day for Bangladesh as they take on Pakistan in Asia cup final

It’s a D-Day for ‘minnows’ Bangladesh who are in a giant killing spree. After defeating World Champions India and World Cup finalist Sri Lanka and giving Pakistan a run for money in the league matches, the Bangla Tigers are ready for their kill against the Pakistanis in the final of Asia Cup in Dhaka on Thursday.

In a week building towards Bangladesh's annual Independence Day celebrations on March 26, the cricket team has done its might to boost the nation's collective self-esteem, writes The Hindu. “The celebrations on the roads adjoining the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium on Tuesday night, was a surreal spectacle of colours laced with ear-splitting noise. Mushfiqur Rahim's men have offered spectacular cheer to fellow-Bangladeshis but they are fully aware about being on the cusp of history and the words ‘more-needs-to-be-done' have tempered their thoughts ahead of Thursday's final against Pakistan. Mushfiqur, a diminutive man with enormous presence, had once said after scoring a Test century against India at Chittagong — “they can't under-estimate me any more.” It is an individual preamble that has also seeped in to the collective consciousness of his team,” writes the national daily.

Meanwhile The Times Of India writes that a nation is on the cusp of history. “Since their arrival into the big league in 1999, a place in the Asia Cup final is the biggest moment for Bangladesh cricket. It was mayhem on the streets on Dhaka on Tuesday night when they beat Sri Lanka to set up the final clash against Pakistan, and the dust is yet to settle. The biggest challenge for the Bangladesh players now is to gather their thoughts, put their heads down and get ready for another big fight against Pakistan,” writes the paper, adding that Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh’s hero on Tuesday night, indicated it won’t be easy.

“When the tournament started, we didn’t expect to go this far. The realistic possibility was to win one game and give a good fight to the other teams. Now, the unthinkable has happened and we have to put all our parties to hold for two more days and concentrate on the job at hand, that is to beat Pakistan,” Shakib said.

The sense of anticipation for this game in enormous and the price of tickets in the black market have even shot up to Tk 50,000. “Probably, every Bangladeshi wants to come for this match-…It’s difficult picking up the calls on the mobile, because invariably it will be a request for a ticket,” a Bangladesh Cricket Board official said.

Sunil Gavaskar in his column in TOI writes that Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan have been consistency personified, but others too have played their part in taking Bangladesh to the brink of glory. “Every good skipper's personality influences the rest of the team, and so it is a bubbly buoyant Bangladesh, that one sees out in the middle.  Mushfiqur is a very young man and his love for the game can be seen by his enthusiastic efforts behind and in front of the stumps. He also showed that he is not afraid to take responsibility, by coming ahead of the in-form Shakib, in the must-win game against the Sri Lankans and though that tactic did not work, it showed a skipper who was positive and competitive, and not just resting on his teammates’ shoulders.”

Meanwhile Sanjay Manjrekar in his column in TOI writes that ever since that hundred in the Adelaide Test, Virat Kohli is looking a different batsman. “It’s not that he was not good before. But when you get a Test hundred against a team like Australia in their backyard, especially when others are struggling, your self-confidence just hits the roof. And that’s what you are seeing in Kohli’s innings -- a world-beating attitude and, thankfully, he has the talent to keep pace with that attitude. But can we all go easy on the ‘Is he the next Tendulkar?’ bit. Onething we all can’t seem to do is enjoy the moment for what it is. For example, we find it difficult to stop at ‘Virat Kohli is batting beautifully’ or ‘We may have found the next No 3’. Instead, what we love to do is speculate and hope.”