Bangladesh may have a poor record in Twenty20 Internationals but with an inspiring One-Day run to back them up, they are set to assess their skill in the shortest format against India in the opening match of the Asia Cup.The match is scheduled for 7:30pm (Bangladesh Standard Time) at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.The tournament will be held in the 20-over format for the first time.Hosting the Asia Cup for a third consecutive time, Bangladesh did their tweaks in a four-match T20 series against Zimbabwe last month.Skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza believes the series achieved its goal of setting a team combination.The Tigers, who rose in confidence by playing 20-over games in recent times, will want to polish the team as much as possible before the World Twenty20 in India next month.Although all-rounder Mahmudullah said they aimed to be aggressive in the Asia Cup, the captain is not thinking too much about winning or losing. Mashrafe is keen to enter T20’s showcase event with confidence.Coach Chandika Hathurusingha has worked on the T20 skills and strategies of his apprentices in two training camps in Khulna and Chittagong. The Sri Lankan wants his team to emulate its ODI performances in T20s.Mashrafe is quite happy to be pitted against India in Bangladesh’s first match. He thinks doing well against their neighbours will give them the requisite boost to do well all through the tournament and for the World T20 as well.Bangladesh beat India in a three-match One-Day series in their backyard last year. They will surely draw inspiration from the memories of the historic success.
Young pace sensation Mustafizur Rahman was instrumental in Bangladesh’s victory. India vice-captain Virat Kohli thinks the 20-year-old seamer will be a ‘big factor’ for Bangladesh in the Asia Cup too.Mashrafe and Al-Amin Hossain are likely to form the pace battery with Mustafizur in the first match. Bangladesh Premier League revelation Abu Hider Rony and Taskin Ahmed might have to sit this one out.Regular opener Tamim Iqbal has opted out of the Asia Cup to be by the side of his pregnant wife. His replacement Imrul Kayes could be sidelined against India to make way for Mohammad Mithun to open with Soumya Sarkar.Nurul Hasan could be picked ahead of off-spinning allrounder Nasir Hossain in hopes of some late fireworks.In the spin department, Shakib Al Hasan will have Arafat Sunny as his wingman and the only other specialist spinner. But Sabbir Rahman and Mahmudullah are quite capable of bowling some overs between themselves.Past statistics show Bangladesh have had problems at the outset and the death overs in T20s. Their strike rate in the first six overs since 2014 is 112, which is the second worst for a Test-playing nation after that of Pakistan.In the last four over since 2014, Bangladesh batsmen could manage a strike rate of 132.33, which is the worst for any Test-playing nation.They are looking for solutions in Sabbir at the start while banking on wicketkeeper-batsman Nurul for a solid finish.India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is doubtful against Bangladesh after sustaining a muscle spasm during training. Left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman Prathiv Patel has been called up as his back up.India and Sri Lanka are the two most successful teams in the tournament, having won the title five times each and Dhoni and his men would look to extend that trophy haul.India are bubbling with confidence as they come into the tournament on the back of a 3-0 thrashing of Australia which was followed by a 2-1 win against Sri Lanka.