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Mental strength will be key against India: Ex-Bangladesh skipper

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Birmingham: Former captain Gazi Ashraf feels more than training on the pitch, it is the mental prepardness that is key for Bangladesh ahead of their crunch ICC Champions Trophy semi-final against arch-rivals India here on Thursday.

“I feel mentally they need to be ready. That is the key against India. This is their best chance at glory and I hope a great match will be on show. I really hope Bangladesh come out winners showing great mental strength,” Ashraf told Bangladesh’s vernacular daily ‘Jugantor’.

India and Bangladesh have fought bitter battles in the past and the latter have been on the losing side on two occassions in ICC events.

If the 2015 World Cup quarterfinal in Melbourne was a lopsided affair as India won by a whopping 109 runs, it was the 2016 T20 World Cup loss by just one run which still hurts.

Habibul Bashar, one of Bangaldesh’s greatest Test batsmen and one who skippered the side to their maiden Test win back in 2004, said he predicted the Tigers would play the semifinal and that the trophy is not far away from them now.

“We played brilliant cricket against New Zealand. The trophy is not far away now. At the start of the tournament, I had said we will play the semis. We have to give our best in the next two matches. I dream of Bangladesh playing the final.”

Former captain Mohammad Ashraful added that it is normal for Bangladesh to play the semi-final as they have been playing good cricket over the last two and half years.

“The way we have been playing in the last two years, it is but normal that we will play the semifinal. I hope we make it to the final.”

This is Bangladesh’s maiden semi-final in an ICC event.

Bangladesh have so far rode their experienced players’ performances to book a semi-final berth albeit some assistance from rain in the game against Australia where they were down in the dumps when the skies opened up and points were split.

Nonetheless, the likes of Tamim Iqbal who hit a century and followed it up with a 95 in the first two games of the tournament, and Mushfiqur Rahim who scored a fifty against England helped the team punch above weight.

To cap things off, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudulah Riyad’s magnificent hundreds in a 224-run fifth-wicket stand that won they the game against more fancied New Zealand after being 33/4 chasing 266 to win showed their mettle.

IANS

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