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Shakib hopes 'relaxed' Bangladesh don't carry 'mental block' into final

Cricket news - Shakib hopes 'relaxed' Bangladesh don't carry 'mental block' into final

On the back of two dramatic wins over hosts Sri Lanka, a rejuvenated Bangladesh have a spring in their stride, and there's a big chance they could stand in the way of India and the Nidahas Trophy triumph.

Although, Bangladesh have had no success in their previous seven outings against India, the momentum is such in the Bangladesh camp will be buzzing with a lot of self-belief. And with a big final to play on Sunday (March 18), Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan hoped for there to be no 'mental block'.

"We haven't discussed it, so we are not thinking about it as pressure. This I think is a big realization. If you think about pressure, it is pressure. If you don't think about pressure, it is not pressure. I am sure everyone is relaxed, and if we can be like this till tomorrow's match, it will be good for us.

"Everyone has a different mentality. I would hope that none of our players have that mental block. It would help us to play well. If we think it is a big final against India, then it is pressure," Shakib said on the eve of the final, on Saturday (March 17).

India, who rested some of their senior players for the tri-series, are not without challenges. They walk a tightrope while trying to test their bench strength and yet ensure it doesn't come at the cost of a loss. It helped them that Rohit Sharma, the skipper for the series, had clearly spelt out the expected approach for the team before the series.

"With Rohit [Sharma], the first thing that he said was that although we have a few of our other players missing, we're looking to play exactly the sort of cricket that we've played in the past one year. We're looking to win every match," Dinesh Karthik said on Saturday in a pre-match press conference.

A final against Bangladesh can be quite a banana peel. Karthik reckoned it'd be tricky, despite the fact that they were playing a second-string side, while also talking up Bangladesh's abilities in the shorter format.

"Let's be fair to India as a cricketing nation - whether we play the second string or the first string team that's always the case. When we play Bangladesh, if we win it's like 'Ok, you've won against Bangladesh', but if we lose it's like: 'Dude, you've lost to Bangladesh. What are you doing?' I'm sure that's going to be there.

"As a team they [Bangladesh] are known for that (tenacity). They really try hard. They are a team that achieved Test status not many years ago, from there on they have propelled in all formats of the game and done well for themselves. Especially in subcontinent conditions, they are a very good team," he added.

The wickets used in the tournament at the R. Premadasa stadium have been very good for batting, but as the tournament has gone on, it has also assisted the bowlers who have brought in wily change of pace. For spinners too, the ball has gripped and given results, especially for the likes of Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal.

Karthik though felt that the surface hasn't been very straightforward, leaving batsmen to 'second guess' the turn. "See the thing is in wickets, if it goes straight then it's a flat wicket, if it only turns then that's also fine but the tricky wicket is when the odd ball turns and the odd ball goes straight, so it's always a little bit harder. Even to rotate strike, it's not that easy. That's the tricky part about this wicket and that's why you see a lot of dot balls being played," Karthik reckoned.

"The batsman is kind of second guessing whether it's going to turn or not. Fair enough the spinners have been using that and bowling pretty consistently with low economy rates. Good thing to do against spinners is to have a very positive mindset in terms of trying to look to score runs every ball rather than just survive there."

The most improbable chase in the tournament where Bangladesh tracked down 214 against Sri Lanka saw the least number of dot balls in a game throughout the tournament - 70, as compared to a series average of 82 per game. Karthik thus, touched upon rotating the strike and how important a role it would assume on the final day as well. With every batsman from No. 1 to 6 having secured some game time, Karthik believes India are well prepared.

Shakib, though, believes his team has done enough homework to try and expose India's frailties. The Bangladesh skipper, who has been a regular feature of the Indian Premier League, also feels that technology has allowed teams to work out every aspect of the opposition in a detailed manner.

"Technology has made us have a better idea about each and every player. We have a fair idea of what they like to do. They are quite experienced, so we will try not to make it comfortable for them. We have to start well in the game, and then hold on to the momentum."

While the cricket between two sides will take centrestage on Sunday, it will also be interesting to see the turnout of people on the day. On the previous two occasions, both the teams had played out to near-empty stands, and that, Karthik believes, does have an impact on the performance, especially the fielding. "See I think a noisy crowd makes a massive difference. When you play international cricket you're used to a certain amount of crowd - that's one of the things that spurs you on. A massive effect it has is a lot on fielding. Sometimes the motivation is not there," Karthik noted.

"The second match that we played, I thought we fielded the poorest, against Bangladesh. We dropped about five catches. We weren't the usual Indian team that's known for its fielding. The fielding coach was straightaway in our ears and pointing it out, saying that's not happening, irrespective of whether we have a crowd or not, whether the outfield is good or not.

"We've set a certain benchmark for ourselves and we need to keep hitting that benchmark every time we step on to that field. I think that message was taken loud and clear by the boys. I think we came back all guns blazing the next time we played Sri Lanka and in the next game against Bangladesh."

Good turnout or poor, both teams will need to turn up prepared for the most important evening of the tour. While India start on pole position, Bangladesh will not be far behind.

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