There is a touch of planning in everything in Lahore. From the roads to the shopping malls and the elegant houses there is a definite sense of order and purpose. The red-brick laden Gaddafi Stadium, so curiously named after the leader of a nation which does not even have the remotest link to cricket is otherwise a dream venue which is bound to inspire anyone associated with the game. Bangladesh's Asia Cup ambitions start here with a match against the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday and if you are looking for motivation, a ticket to the next round is quite a decent prize.
"If we play to our ability then we should be too strong for them (UAE)," said coach Jamie Siddons at a full-house media briefing at the Gaddafi in the afternoon just before the Tigers started their training session. "We have to be mindful of the fact though that they would also go out there trying to win. We want to get past UAE and then plan for the next opponent."
Captain Mohammad Ashraful also took the restrained approach when asked about prospects against the ICC associates.
"We'll take it one game at a time. We are definitely stronger than UAE and we know that a win on Tuesday would take us into the next round. We are very confident," said Ashraful.
The UAE team, a combination of mostly Pakistanis and Indians who have become citizens by living, practiced on the other side of the ground Bangladesh were having their nets and this was the first time most Bangladeshi team members saw them in training action. The team does not play against top international sides often and the last time they appeared in an ODI at this venue was in the 1996 World Cup.
"We don't have footages of them. We have some statistics and we'll try and get an idea of how they go about playing," said Siddons.
Lahore has been a batting paradise of sorts for all teams with an average of 5.7 runs scored per over in ODIs since 1978. For Bangladesh most recent memories have also been encouraging.
"The last time we were here (5-match series) we made 285. In two other matches the team passed 200 and also we got better in batting in the tri-nation series back home. We have been beaten but against the likes of India, Pakistan and South Africa who are very, very good sides. Players like Roqibul (Hassan) and Ashraful and others who are following the team rule are playing better and we are on track I believe. We are probably not bowling as well as we can," said Siddons.
It had rained quite heavily last week in Lahore but for the time being the weather is pleasant and sunny and Siddons brushed aside any concerns about the elements.
"It is just like the weather back home," said Siddons and just to stress upon how similar it is Pakistan has recently adjusted the daylight saving time and both countries are now on the same time zone (+6 GMT).
The Bangladesh team had a three-hour practice session at the Gaddafi, under lights for most part with all top-order batsmen getting a 40-minute hit in the nets. The morning had started with gym training. Tomorrow schedule will follow almost the same pattern with swimming in morning before skill training from 4pm at the Gaddafi.