Mortaza: India clear favourites for Asia Cup


Mashrafe Mortaza has India down as "clear favourites" for Sunday's Asia Cup final, but says Bangladesh have a bright future regardless of the outcome at the Sher E Bangla Stadium.

Bangladesh have exceeded expectations on home soil, with victories over Pakistan, Sri Lanka and United Arab Emirates enabling them to take second spot in the round-robin stage.

The Tigers, who sit 10th in the Twenty20 rankings, started the tournament with an 45-run defeat to India after Rohit Sharma smashed 83 from only 55 balls in a total of 166-6 and the hosts could only muster 121-7 in reply.

And Bangladesh captain Mortaza said there is no questioned that the top-ranked T20 team will be expected to go into the World Twenty20 in their homeland on the back of an Asia Cup triumph in Dhaka.

The skipper said: "I said before the tournament that we are by no means favourites to even go to the final of the Asia Cup, but we believe if we play as a team we may do it.

"I am glad that we are here. India are clear favourites for the final no doubt about that. But we also have momentum on our side, and we have won the last three matches after the losing the first and we showed character to be in the final.

"Everyone is excited about it. Everyone wants to watch the game, and are looking for tickets. Truth is without the support of the fans, Bangladesh cricket would never be where it is right now. We would love to give our fans a joyous moment tomorrow.

"Sri Lanka and Pakistan were the finalists of the Asia Cup just a couple of years ago. Sri Lanka are also the defending World T20 champions.

"All teams have their highs and lows and this is just a phase where we are getting better results than them. But that doesn't mean we are the next Asian superpower or anything. Our future is bright, that is all I can say."

India won all four round-robin matches and team director Ravi Shastri is backing the players to rise to the occasion in the final.

He said: "They are experienced players and they should treat this as another game. Our approach to every team and every game has been the same,

"We are the number one team in T20 cricket. It has been a gradual process, but an enjoyable one. Let's hope we can show that kind of cricket in the final too tomorrow."

Bangladesh expect all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan to be fit despite a thigh injury he sustained in training on Saturday.