Dhaka, Feb 18 (IANS) Bangladesh skipper Shakib-al Hassan feels the immense expectations from the home crowd would not put any additional pressure on his team and they should just play their own game in the cricket World Cup opener against India here Saturday.
The 23-year-old Shakib said Bangladesh was taking it game by game without being unduly bothered about a probable backlash from the Indians, who made a first round exit in 2007 World Cup in the Caribbeans after losing to them in a group match.
“We will play six games in the group league. We will take it game by game. We are not thinking about India. If we do well it will be a very good World Cup,” Shakib said at the pre-match media meet here Friday.
The Bangladesh captain said kicking-off the campaign with the big ticket match against India was good for the side.
“It is a good way to start the World Cup. It couldn’t have been better. If we do well it will be a great start for us.”
Asked about crowd pressure, he replied: “I think the guys are old enough to cope with this kind of pressure. As far as the team is concerned I will tell them to ‘play your own game’. All my team mates are happy to know the crowd is behind us. The players are enthused.”
On the three big steps his side has taken over the past four years to raise confidence levels, Shakib said: “Our fast bowlers are bowling well. The batsmen are more confident and consistent and the fielding has improved a lot.”
Shakib, currently rated as the world’s No.1 ODI all-rounder, said his team would miss injured pace spearhead Mashrafe Mortaza, who was ruled out of the event following an injured right knee.
“He has been a great performer for Bangladesh cricket. We will miss him. But our guys are doing well,” he said.
Shakib said while a good start was necessary, it was equally important to retain the momentum.
“When Mashrafi was in the team it was a great plus. We will miss his experience. But others are also doing well over the past six to eight months. So it would not be that much of a problem,” he said.
Asked to compare the Indian team of the previous World Cup and the present side, which is No.1 in ODIs, Shakib said: “As a team they have improved a lot. Some of those who were in the 2007 side are also here. I think they now have a better combination and the way they have performed have changed things.”
He said the toss would be vital but the dew factor would not play havoc at this time of the year. “So I think there will be no problem batting or bowling in the second half.”
Recalling the previous World Cup, he said: “If you ask me I will say the win against India is my biggest memory of the event. We had a very good time in the Caribbean, where we also defeated South Africa.”
Shakib said for the rest of his life he would carry the memory of the rousing reception give to him by the 25,000 spectators as he entered astride a cycle rickshaw during the World Cup opening ceremony at the Bangabandhu National Stadium Thursday.
“It was a great feeling. I was emotional. I will always remember it,” he said.