'We have a slight advantage'
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al-Hasan discusses his team's chances in the World Cup with Bikash Mohapatra.
It's a highly anticipated match. At least as far as Bangladesh is concerned.
The world's youngest Test nation caused a major upset in the last World Cup, in 2007, shocking favourites India in their opening match.
Four years on, the two neighbours face-off again at the same stage. And the equation is more or less the same: India, by far, favourite to win the game.
However, the Bangladesh team is approaching this contest with far more confidence than they did in the corresponding fixture in 2007.
"We are focusing on our cricket. We are not too concerned about who we are playing against," says Shakib Al-Hasan, the confidence in his voice all the more palpable.
Bangladesh's captain though is quick to validate the same with reason.
"We have had a very good preparation and the guys have worked really hard for this tournament," he explains, adding, "In the last four years we have improved our cricket a lot.
"As regards this match, both the sides have to play to their potential to win. But since we know the conditions well -- most of our players have played at least 30-35 games in these conditions -- it gives us a slight advantage.
Image: Shakib Al-Hasan
'We have been playing consistently'
Tell him that his Indian counterpart, MS Dhoni, isn't taking the match lightly too, and Shakib comes up with more justification.
"We have been consistently playing good cricket and that is the reason why the other teams aren't taking us lightly now," he reasons, adding, "Also for the past two years we have played really well at home."
The fact that Bangladesh is playing most of its matches on home soil adds to the confidence.
"The wickets here in Bangladesh demand sensible cricket," warns Shakib, adding, "You can't expect teams to score 350-plus totals each time.
"A score of around 260-270 is going to be good enough for a team batting first," he added.
Image: Bangladesh players celebrate after picking up a wicket
Besides captaining the side with conviction, Shakib also happens to be the most important member of this Bangladesh squad.
A player who delivers with both the bat and the ball, the 23-year-old was named 'ICC All-rounder of the Year' in 2009.
Ask him the players he looks up to for inspiration, and Shakib comes up with an elaborate answer.
"When I started to watch cricket, I used for follow Saeed Anwar even though his batting style was quite different," he said, adding, "Later on I started following different players for their batting and bowling.
"For instance, I have followed Daniel Vettori's bowling a lot, and, as regards batting, I follow Shivnarine Chanderpaul a lot.
"They are both different kind of players but I do follow them," he added.
If he delivers like either of the names he's mentioned, his team will surely benefit a lot.
Image: Shakib Al-Hasan