Birmingham: Two heart-breaking losses at the hands of India in the past two global tournaments - quarter-final of the 2015 ICC World Cup and a group match of the 2016 ICC WT20 - has left the Bangladesh team and its fans craving for revenge and the Tigers have a grand opportunity to set the record straight when they take on the 'Men in Blue' in the second semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy on Thursday.
The Bangladesh team is keen to tie up the loose ends ahead of the big clash and that was visible during an intense practice session at Edgbaston on Tuesday. The players started with a long fielding session, where the stress was on taking high catches and perfecting the art of a good throw from the deep.
Bangladesh has often been let down by poor fielding at the highest level of the game and head coach Chandika Hathurusingha has been prioritising this department from the beginning of the tournament.
The other important factor for Bangladesh in the recent past has been the presence of the great Courtney Walsh in their camp. The former West Indies bowling great has been working closely with the Tigers' pace battery. The Bangladeshi pace quartet of Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain and captain Mashrafe Mortaza spent a long time taking tips from Walsh during the net session. Walsh was seen observing the run-up of the bowlers keenly and gave his inputs to all four. Head coach Hathurusingha also earmarked his pacers as their main weapon against India.
"We have a lot of variety in our pace attack and that I think is going to be important in this match. We have plans for all the Indian batsmen and we will look to execute them in the middle.
The idea is to play fearless cricket, just like we have been doing in the past. This brand of cricket has brought us a lot of success and we will look to continue the same," the Sri Lankan added.
The arrival of Mustafizur Rahman on the world stage has added more depth to Bangladesh's bowling. The left-arm pacer burst on to the scene with a 'Man of series' performance against India in the three-match ODI series at home in June 2015 and has since troubled several big names in international cricket. He will definitely be a key figure in the match on Thursday and the lanky paceman was seen going full throttle in the nets on Tuesday.
"He's struggled a bit after the first season but has come back well since then. The bowling coach and senior players are working on him and he is improving his skills everyday. He is a very clever cricketer and is picking up things fast," Hathurusingha said.
Bangladesh's other big weapon is their star-studded batting line-up which has a collection of batsmen who can take the attack to the opposition at any point. The likes of Tamim Iqbal and Sabbir Rahman provide the x-factor, while Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahman and Mahmudullah provide the much needed depth with their measured approach. All these men worked hard in the nets, perfecting their skills before they face a confident Indian attack, which is on a high after blowing the South Africans away.
Asked if the team is still looking for revenge after the loss in the 2015 ICC World Cup quarter-final, where the Bangladeshis cried foul about a no ball decision that allowed Rohit Sharma to notch up a century, which ultimately turned the match in India's favour, the coach said that the team has moved on.
"We will not play for revenge. What has happened has happened. We will look to play positive and fearless cricket.
"We know no one expected us to reach this far. But if we play to our potential then we can challenge any team," the Bangladesh coach said.
This is the first time Bangladesh has reached the semi-final of an ICC tournament.
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