'Whatever is in the media...': Shakib's straightforward response to 'controversy' prior to must-win Asia Cup game vs SL
The first do-or-die encounter of the Asia Cup is between two teams who suffered defeats against Afghanistan. Both have to battle it out for a place in Super Four stage of the tournament.
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan on Thursday said that his team focuses on playing quality cricket against Sri Lanka instead of being concerned about the recent controversy before the Asia Cup 2022 game. Both teams square off each other in a virtual eliminator, having suffered defeats against Afghanistan, who became the first team to advance to the next stage from Group B. Follow Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh Live Score, Asia Cup 2022
The game preceded a verbal battle between the two camps, which started with Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka taking a swipe at Bangladesh's bowling attack and calling them an “easier opponent” as compared to Afghanistan.
“Afghanistan has a world-class bowling attack. We know Fizz [Mustafizur Rahman] is a good bowler. Shakib [al Hasan] is a world-class bowler. But apart from them, there is no world-class bowler in the side. So if we compare with Afghanistan, Bangladesh is an easier opponent,” the Lankan skipper had said during a press conference.
Playing down the war of words, Shakib said he wants his team to keep wickets in hand to utilize the last 10 overs, as Sabbir Rahman and Mehidy Hasan Miraz replaced the openers, and fast bowler Ebadot Hossain replaced Mohammad Saifuddin.
"We wanted to field first, but that's not in our control. We didn't bat well against Afghanistan, but today is a different day. We have three changes in our team, we have made quite a few changes. Hopefully, that will work for us today. We want to play some good cricket today. Whatever is being talked about in the media, we are not concerned about it," said Shakib after New Zealand great Scott Styris asked him about the “controversy” at the toss.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, made just one change as Asitha Fernando made his debut after entering the eleven in place of Matheesha Pathirana. Skipper Dasun Shanaka said at the toss - "Chasing in a big game will be more important. We're going to [continue playing aggressively] like how we've played over the last few years."
In response to Shanaka's comment, Bangladesh team director and former captain Khaled Mahmud had said his team has two world-class bowlers in Shakib and Mustafizur but the islanders have none.
"I don’t know why Dasun made that comment. Definitely, Afghanistan has a better squad. He said we have only two bowlers in our line-up, but I don’t see any bowlers in Sri Lanka. At least Bangladesh has world-class bowlers like Mustafiz and Shakib. They don’t even have that. It is not about the words. It is about how you play the game,” he said while addressing the media ahead of the clash.
Sri Lanka legend Mahela Jayawardene also reacted to Mahmud's remarks and asked his side to put up a strong show in the Group B game. “Looks like it’s time for @OfficialSLC bowlers to show the class and batters to show who they are on the field,” he tweeted.