Reaching the Asia Cup final for the first time, host Bangladesh know they have an opportunity to prove they are among the cricketing world's elite if they defeat Pakistan.
Inspired Bangladesh ready to cause one more upset in Asia Cup
DHAKA // Mushfiqur Rahim is confident he can lead Bangladesh to their first major title in the Asia Cup final on Thursday.
The expectations of home fans have rocketed over the past week as their team beat World Cup finalists India and Sri Lanka to reach the final against Pakistan at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
"It's not that we upset the big guns, rather it was a well-planned strategy and we executed that well," Rahim said yesterday.
India have been the most successful Asia Cup team with five titles, and Sri Lanka have never missed the final.
"So far, we have gained everything we wanted," Rahim said "We are now so close and do not want to lose the chance."
The captain said his team were keen to prove Bangladesh could maintain its high standard.
"We played such a way that every match was a do-or-die match for us," he said. "We'll take this final match the same way. As a team, we've been improving. So the victory in the final would be crucial to show our improvement toward the rest of the world."
Pakistan won their round-robin match by 21 runs, and Rahim acknowledged Pakistan were the favourites in the final. But he was reluctant to concede anything else.
"We believe no side is unbeatable. It is all about to put up good cricket and execute the plan well," he said.
Younis Khan, the senior Pakistan batsman, paid respect to Bangladesh for their gutsy performances and expected a hard-fought final.
"You see the match against us, then against India, it was wonderful to chase a big score," Khan said. "Their teamwork is tremendous; it is certainly a great strength that they are chasing well. So I think it will be a tough match."
He praised Bangladesh's consistency.
"They came close to a victory against us by chasing a respectable total, then chased down India's mammoth total. Even in a rain-affected match, they eased past Sri Lanka as if they like to chase any total," Khan said. "It will be very tough to beat Bangladesh; the way they have been playing is amazing."
Khan said if Pakistan win the toss they will probably send Bangladesh in to bat first in the final.
Pakistan won their only Asia Cup the last time they reached the final, in 2000.
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