Shakib Al Hasan and Nazimuddin play football during a training session on the eve of the Asia CupÂ
Game starts on 1400 local time (0800 GMT) on March 22, 2012 at the Shere Bangla Nagar Stadium at Mirpur.
The impressive victory over Sri Lanka, which propelled Bangladesh in the Asia Cup finals, is the biggest moment in the youngest test nationâ€™s cricket history. It was a tremendous team effort and showed an unprecedented consistency held by the Bangladesh team. Albeit it was against a tired, jaded Sri Lankan team but this argument could only be used by those who have not watched the game and want to demean the achievement.
However it is all in the past now, what happened on March 20 will be remembered but nothing the Bangladeshi players would like to rely on. Bangladesh comes into the final as serious contenders if not favorites, something that was unthinkable a week earlier. But Bangladesh are here, and more deserving than the teams that have missed out, Bangladesh have played cricket of very high quality, shown great promise throughout the tournament and with such an amazing crowd backing, you never know where the roof of their achievement lies.
When the Bangladeshi team takes the field tomorrow, there will be a different kind of pressure, the pressure to show they can handle massive games, something they are not very well known for. However, the Bangladesh team that has played over the past week has shown significant difference from their ancestors, and one will not be surprised if they pull the biggest bunny out of their hat on Thursday. Pakistan on the other hand, would be happy to see Bangladesh in the finals. As they have a bad track record of losing crucial games to India. However the Pakistani team will not be as relieved as they were when they faced Bangladesh for the first time this tournament. They know the hosts will be upbeat and full of confidence and with a determination to win. When they say the clichÃ©d â€œwe are not taking the opponents lightlyâ€, it will be more than formality one will assume.
The Pakistan team also has a point to prove, despite their unbelievable Test run; their one-day form has not been one to match the testsâ€™. Coming to Asia cup following a whitewash in the hands of England, they will like nothing more than to take the Asia cup home. Winning the Asia cup would certainly prove to be a fine addition to the crown and would certainly be a cherry to top off their revival since the spot fixing tragedy.
In all likelihood, Pakistan are still expected to win the game and lift the trophy but the Bangladeshis will know, who have just come out of their biggest cricketing success, that the achievement on 20th March could very well become second best if they somehow manage to sneak past Pakistan tomorrow. In addition, given the sort of form they are in, it will take a brave man to bet against Bangladesh.