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Asia Cup starts today

Staff Correspondent

The four Asian cricketing giants begin their rivalry for continental glory from today with Pakistan facing hosts Bangladesh in the opening match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium. 
The cricketing corridors in Bangladesh took a festive look again in less than two weeks after the Bangladesh Premier League ended as all the Asian Test-playing teams are now in town with India being last team to set their feet. 
With no clear favourties in the biennial tournament, Pakistan have the opportunity to seize the momentum as they are pitted against Bangladesh, arguably the weakest side in the tournament, in their opener.
While India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all won the tournament at least once in the past, Bangladesh are the only side never to have won a game against the ‘big three’ despite being a regular participant since 1986. 
It, however, did not change Misbah’s attitude towards his opponents in the opening match as he is aware of the damage that the home side can cause to his unpredictable Pakistan. 
‘It is really a mistake to call any team “weak” and we don’t want to make that mistake. Bangladesh are always a difficult opposition at their home, on a given day they can just upset you.
‘So we are not really thinking like that, we have
to put in our hundred percent and come hard if we want to win this match,’ said Misbah.
Misbah led Pakistan brilliantly in last one-and-a-half years, winning six one-day series consecutively, but they stumbled before coming here as they were whitewashed in the one-day series by England in the UAE.
The sub-continental pitches are always quite similar to each other and the loss in the UAE
might affect the Pakistanis as well, but Misbah
thinks otherwise as, according to him, Dhaka has a totally different wicket than UAE’s.
‘I don’t think it is similar to the UAE pitches, it’s totally different. A typical Dhaka wicket which looks a bit different from the strips we normally have because of some grass on the wicket,’ he said.
Sakib al Hasan was the name for concern, the last time these two sides met, for the Pakistani tent and Misbah says that it’s not only Sakib, but they are wary of all the other players as well.
‘Of course he is the main player [Sakib], so we are focussing on him and we are focusing on all the other players, you can’t just focus on one player in the opposition.
‘It’s a team of 11; anybody can come and make good contribution. For a team you have to have a plan against everybody,’ added Misbah.
The world number one all-rounder, whose act will be a concern for the opponents, himself says that
they are confident of putting up a good show against Pakistan despite a poor performance in their last meeting.
‘We know we didn’t play well against Pakistan recently when we had a series against them but this is another tournament and the boys are confident,’ said Sakib.
An upbeat Sakib believes they are capable of winning against the big teams and is hopeful of a positive result in the tournament.
‘I believe we have the ability to do well against any big team and we have proved that time and time again. I am hopeful that we can do it again in this tournament,’ he added.

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