With just over 24 hours to go before their fifth multi-nation tournament final in limited-overs matches, Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said he wants his side to remain as relaxed as he had seen them throughout the day. It encouraged him to hope that the rest of the players would keep out the mental blocks and treat the final like just another game.
It is easier said than done, especially against India who have beaten Bangladesh in all seven previous T20s, including the 2016 Asia Cup final. In the two league stage matches in the Nidahas Trophy, Bangladesh were outplayed and looked short of ideas on occasions. But Shakib is bound to put a brave front. He insisted that if the Bangladesh players treat it as a mere contest between bat and ball, they could remain focused on the job in hand.
"We haven't discussed the final so we are not thinking about it as pressure yet," Shakib said. "This, I think, is a big realisation of how we are handling this game so far. If you think about pressure, it is pressure. If you don't think about pressure, it is not pressure. I am sure everyone is relaxed, and if we can be like this till tomorrow's match, it will be good for us.
"We are not thinking too far ahead. We have to be relaxed and open-minded. It is important to be mentally free to do well in T20s. I hope no one takes any pressure, and stays focused on the process. Everyone has a different mentality. I would hope that none of our players have that mental block. It would help us to play well. If we think it is a big final against India, then it is pressure. Rather, let's think about a bat versus ball contest."
Given how the R Premadasa Stadium's pitches have remained mostly similar throughout the length of a game, Shakib wasn't too worried on whether he wouldd want to bat or bowl first, but much of Bangladesh's focus would be on their start. During this tournament, their opening batsmen have provided them with better starts than their opening bowlers. Against Sri Lanka on Friday, they bowled well in the first eight overs and then gave away a big partnership.
"We have a fair idea of what the Indian batsmen like to do," Shakib said. "They are quite experienced, so we will try not to make it comfortable for them. We have to start well in the game, and then hold on to the momentum."