DUBAI: Skipper Shakib Al Hasan warned Bangladesh that they must keep their emotions in check after rivals Sri Lanka dumped them out of the Asia Cup cricket following a bitter war of words.

Sri Lanka won a do-or-die match in Dubai by two wickets and with four balls to spare on Thursday to move into the Super Four stage of the tournament, a prelude to the T20 World Cup.

Before the clash the two sides exchanged verbal volleys in media conferences with Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka saying Bangladesh lacked a world-class bowler other than Mustafizur Rahman and Shakib.

Bangladesh team director Khaled Mahmud hit back, saying: “I don’t see any (world-class) bowler in Sri Lanka as well… we have at least two.” The battle of words moved to social media with former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene tweeting: “Looks like it’s time for (our) bowlers to show the class and batters to show who they are on the field.”

Shakib denied after the defeat that ended their Asia Cup hopes that the off-field chatter had affected them, but admitted his Bangladesh team needed to play more with their heads.

“We are very emotional. That is the other area we need to improve,” Shakib said, with the World Cup in Australia on the horizon in October-November.

“Keep our emotions on the side and play the way we need to play. More looking to give our head in the game than our heart in the game.”

Sri Lanka batsman Bhanuka Rajapaksa offered an olive branch to the Bangladesh players and said Shanaka’s words were misconstrued.

“The statement that the captain made, I don’t think he meant any wrong,” Rajapaksa told reporters.

“Of course, when you compare the (dangerous) Afghanistan bowlers, what we meant was we had a slight advantage facing the Bangladeshi bowlers.” Rajapaksa added: “Like India-Pakistan, Sri Lanka-Bangladesh is also a good rivalry, but we are friends off the field.

“Some words could hurt the players and hurt the staff. But what the captain meant was not what went through the media.”

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2022

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