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India not a worry, says Bangladesh captain

Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan addresses a press conference in Dhaka on Friday, February 18, 2011 (AFP)


Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan on Friday brushed aside fears about taking on power-packed India in Saturday's World Cup opener, saying his side was confident of doing well.

"Our bowlers are in good form, the batsmen have been doing their job and our fielding has improved a lot," Shakib told a crowded media conference at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.

"This tournament is not only about playing India. We have six league matches to play and we have to perform in all of them. If we get our basics right, we will do well."

The match assumes importance in the light of Bangladesh's stunning five-wicket win over the Indians in the previous World Cup in 2007, which knocked the 1983 champions and 2003 finalists out in the first round.

On paper, the day-night clash may look like a no-contest with tournament favourites India having won 20 of their 22 one-day matches against the Tigers.

But all-rounder Shakib insisted his team will not be under pressure when they take the field against Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men in front of some 25,000 partisan home fans.

"The guys have played enough cricket to cope with the pressure," he said. "We are not looking too far ahead. We will take it one game at a time and concentrate on the job at hand.

Shakib said it was good to start the tournament against the co-hosts.

"I don't think it can get better than this," he said. "Playing a strong side like India has its advantages. We want to prove ourselves against the best."

Familiar home conditions that assist the slow left-arm spin of Shakib and Abdur Razzak have seen Bangladesh win seven and lose just one of their last 10 home one-dayers.

The victories included an astonishing 4-0 rout of Daniel Vettori's New Zealand in October.

Shakib conceded the toss will play a vital role since the late evening dew may make it harder for the team fielding second.

"If there is no dew, conditions will be good for batting till the end," he said. "We can't rely only on spin, because teams from the sub-continent usually play spin quite well."

Shakib conceded Bangladesh will miss former captain and pace spearhead Mashrafe Mortaza, who was ruled out of the tournament due to a recurring knee injury.

"He has been a great performer for us over the past few years," the captain said. "But this current side has been playing well over some time now and we have a very settled combination."

Mortaza, 27, has been the pivot of the Bangladesh attack with 146 one-day wickets, including a match-winning 4-38 against India in the last World Cup.

Bangladesh will depend on the left-handed openers, Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes, the fluent Junaid Siddique and former captain Mohammad Ashraful to give the bowlers a reasonable total to defend.

India and Bangladesh have been drawn with England, the West Indies, South Africa, Ireland and the Netherlands in group B, with the top four advancing to the quarter-finals.

Dhoni shrugs off 2007 Bangladesh shock

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni insists his team will go into Saturday's World Cup opener against Bangladesh without the baggage of their humiliating loss in 2007.

The high-profile Indians suffered a five-wicket defeat at Bangladesh's hands in their first match of the previous edition in the Caribbean, leading to the team's first round exit.

But Dhoni, preparing for the day-night clash at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka, said the loss four years ago had not even crossed his mind in the past few years.

"Frankly, I have never thought about it, but we obviously don't want a repeat," said Dhoni, who was part of the 2007 squad which was led by Rahul Dravid and coached by Australian Greg Chappell.

Dhoni said his team was in a better frame of mind going into the tournament, and insisted there was no additional pressure on the boys playing in the sub-continent.

"Being a co-host will always bring a lot of expectations," the wicketkeeper-batsman said. "But we do not get bogged down by expectations.

"The important thing is to do the process right. We always look to put more emphasis on the process, rather than on winning, and this is what has made us a successful team."

India are the number one Test team in the International Cricket Council's official rankings, and are placed second behind Australia in one-day cricket.

India have won 20 of their 22 one-day matches against the Tigers, but Dhoni refused to take another victory for granted.

"Bangladesh is a good side with three very good left-arm spinners," he said. "They rely a lot on spinners, especially in the sub-continent where slow bowlers get a lot of help."

India go into the Cup opener on the back of two convincing morale-boosting wins over Australia and New Zealand in practice matches this week.

"The tournament already started for us with those practice matches. We have picked up the intensity and now look forward to our next game," he said.

"Like any other team, we want to begin our campaign on a winning note."

The Indians rely mainly on their powerful batting, led by world recorld holder Sachin Tendulkar, to pile up a big total and bat the other side out of a match.

With Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh adding to a top-heavy line-up and with Dhoni and the explosive Yusuf Pathan coming down the order, Harbhajan Singh has been pushed to number eight despite two Test centuries to his credit.

Off-spinner Harbhajan leads the bowling attack with new-ball spearhead Zaheer Khan, but India will rely on part-timers Sehwag, Yuvraj and Pathan to fill the fifth bowler's spot.

Dhoni declined to say who among Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina or Yuvraj will bat at number four, but said Zaheer was fit to play after being rested for the two practice matches.

Dhoni predicted a very successful tournament over the next six weeks.

"If it is not successful in the sub-continent, it won't be successful anywhere," he said. "One-day cricket is an ideal mix of Tests and Twenty20. These days not even 300 is a safe total."