Bullish Bangladesh keep the focus on cricket despite week of frustrations

 

Bangladesh have arguably delivered the performance of the tournament so far in their defeat of South Africa at The Oval in game four. It was a stunning victory, a statement made by Mashrafe Mortaza’s men. Even though it was just nine days ago, that victory seems a distant memory now. Two defeats – one tight, one not so much – and a washout since has rather slowed down their fast start. They currently find themselves seventh in the table with just three points. Things aren’t quite so rosy as they once were.Sri Lanka are, on paper, one of the easier games in the group stage and the washout robbed Bangladesh of the chance to press for two points, an opportunity their rivals for a semi-final spot may get later in the tournament. Bangladesh’s next match, against West Indies in Taunton on Monday, has therefore taken on added significance. The two teams will probably be competing with each other for qualification to the knock-out stages and defeat for either one in Somerset would make their task that much harder.“I know that Sri Lanka would have fought very hard and are no pushovers at all,” said Steve Rhodes, Bangladesh’s head coach. “But we do see it as one point lost, and that’s disappointing but what can we do about it? Absolutely nothing. Now all we can do is win our games coming up, one at a time, which is the next game West Indies. Try and win that, and then win the next one after that. That’s all we can do.”Although the last week has not turned out how Bangladesh would have hoped, the wheels are still firmly on the bus. Out of the three matches they have played, the defeat to England was their only disappointing performance but Eoin Morgan’s men were in determined mood after their loss to Pakistan a few days earlier. Most teams would have struggled against England in that form. A narrow loss, but decent fighting performance, against New Zealand at The Oval in their second game could so easily have been a victory.Bangladesh will feel confident about facing West Indies too. They beat them three times in the tri-series in Ireland before the World Cup, although the men from the Caribbean did not have their IPL players for that tournament, and Bangladesh played the short ball very well against South Africa which should stand them in good stead for the barrage that Oshane Thomas and Andre Russell are likely to dish out in Taunton.“I’m very, very happy with the way we play the white ball, particularly, when it’s short,” said Rhodes. “I think you’ve seen some of our games, in particular against South Africa, that didn’t worry us. We’ve played against the West Indies bowlers recently out in Ireland. Oshane Thomas, as well, when we played against him in Bangladesh just before Christmas. So we are well aware of what they have got and we know what’s coming and we’ve got some plans to try and deal with that.”In one respect, the washout against Sri Lanka can be seen as a positive for Bangladesh. They have a number of players who are managing niggles and the lack of action allows them to further rest and recover bruised bodies. Shakib Al Hasan, a centurion against England, and Bangladesh’s best player so far in the tournament should be fit to face West Indies after suffering a quad injury while batting against England. Rhodes said he was “very, very optimistic” that the all-rounder will be fit for Taunton.In all three games where there has been play, Shakib has formed a three-pronged finger-spin attack for Bangladesh with Mehidy Hasan and Mosaddek Hossain. The trio have taken ten wickets between them but the lack of a cutting edge was exposed against England when Bangladesh were unable to make breakthroughs to stem the tide of runs.