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Eyes on the prize as Bangladesh aim title defence

Staff Correspondent
01 Oct 2022 00:00:00 | Update: 01 Oct 2022 03:48:57
Eyes on the prize as Bangladesh aim title defence
Bangladesh Women’s national cricket team’s players celebrate after beating India in the final of the Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur in June 2018 – ACC Photo

Bangladesh will see an unforeseen event unfold today as the Bangladesh women’s national cricket team will start their Asia Cup campaign in Sylhet to defend their title.

Bangladesh were crowned the Asian Champions in 2018 after they beat India in the final by three wickets. To date, that is the only time Bangladesh has won a major trophy in cricket across gender.

In their bid to win back-to-back Asia Cups, Bangladesh will start their campaign against Thailand at the Outer Ground of the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium, which is the unofficial home of cricket for the women’s team as they generally have most of their training camps there.

Home support and defending champions – these two things will make anything less than a title win seem like an underperformance for Bangladesh. And skipper Nigar Sultana Joty knows that as she said in the pre-match press conference that there is no room for being content with playing good cricket.

“The time to play good cricket is no more. As the trophy is already ours, we will try to keep it. We are already playing good cricket. Our target is to continue that and win the trophy,” she said in Sylhet on Friday.

For their title defence, Bangladesh could not have asked for better preparation as they played five matches in the 2023 T20 World Cup Qualifiers in UAE just before the Asia Cup started.

Bangladesh won all five matches there to become unbeaten champions, and the semi-final was against Thailand, who are their opponent today.

Before facing them, Nigar said they were not thinking much about the strength of the opposition.

“Our target is to play match by match. We are not looking at the strengths of our oppositions. We want to play our cricket, execute our plans properly,” the Bangladesh skipper said.

The only challenge for Bangladesh, according to Nigar, remains to be able to play as a team and have a holistic performance.

“The matches we win, there is a contribution from everybody. We rarely win when one player plays well. But when everybody puts in small contributions, we find results. So, the challenge for us is to play as a team and for everybody to contribute,” she said in Sylhet on Friday.

The Bangladesh skipper is in pretty fine form lately as she has two fifties in her last five innings. In those matches, she has scored 180 runs at an average of 45.

Nigar hoped that she continued contributing, “I am ready to contribute in any way the team wants. I am in a good flow of runs, if I can continue this, then it will be good for the team.”

Bangladesh have all-rounder Jahanara Alam back in the squad after she could not play in the Qualifiers due to a hand injury, and the skipper believes it’s a big boost for the team.

“She (Jahanara) is an experienced bowler. With her return, the team combination will get better,” Nigar said.

A concern for Bangladesh is the weather in Sylhet as high temperatures are expected during the matches and may lead to the players suffering from dehydration and cramps.

But Nigar is not worried about the heat as she said that their experience in Abu Dhabi, where they played the Qualifiers, will help.

“We are not worried about the weather. We just returned after playing in Abu Dhabi, where the heat was even more severe. We had a good preparation there, but the most important thing was nobody pulled a muscle or cramped in that heat. That means all the players are fit,” she said in the pre-match press conference.