Bangladesh go into Thursday’s World Cup clash against Sri Lanka at the Melbourne Cricket Ground confident of doing well despite an uninspiring record against the former champions.
Bangladesh have lost 32 of their 37 one-day internationals against Sri Lanka and suffered heavy defeats — by 10 wickets in 2003 and by 198 runs four years later — in their only two previous World Cup meetings.
But skipper Mashrafe Mortaza said past records will count for little when they take the field on Thursday, insisting his team was capable of causing an upset.“If we lost to Sri Lanka in the past it meant we did not play those games well, it’s as simple as that,” Mortaza said. “If we do well there is no reason why we can’t beat them.”
The fast bowler pointed to Bangladesh’s 105-run win over Afghanistan in Canberra last week to stress that history does not dictate the course of a match.
“We lost to Afghanistan in the Asia Cup last year and many people thought they will win again, but look what happened,” Mortaza said. “We won easily and the same can happen again.
“We have defeated Sri Lanka in recent times and can do so again if we play to our potential.”
“We are familiar with their players, who have a lot of experience. But then it takes just one ball to get a batsman out. The important thing is to stick to our plans.”
Sri Lanka have had a shaky start in the tournament, losing the opener against New Zealand by 98 runs before scraping through against Afghanistan on the back of a century by the ever-reliable Mahela Jayawardene.
Bangladesh find themselves in the enviable position of being unbeaten after two games after their second match against mighty Australia was washed out in Brisbane.
Two wins in their remaining four group matches will steer Bangladesh into the knockout phase, but with Sri Lanka, England, New Zealand and Scotland awaiting them, the task ahead is not easy.
Mortaza said his team, playing for the first time at the iconic MCG, had watched India’s 130-run win over South Africa at the same venue last Sunday with a lot of interest. “It’s a good batting track and should be a high-scoring game,” he said.
“Big scores will please the crowds, but it will be a challenge for the bowlers. “We may not have played here before but we can’t let that worry us. We just have to adapt to the conditions and perform well.”
Bangladesh will benefit immensely from the invaluable feedback of their coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, a former Sri Lankan Test batsman who was on the coaching staff of New South Wales before moving to Dhaka last year.
“He has been a great help and made plans for us,” Mortaza said of Hathurusinghe. “It is for us now to execute those plans well.”
Former captain Mushfiqur Rahim has recovered from the thumb injury he suffered during nets on Tuesday, but Mortaza remained noncommittal on whether he was fit enough to keep wickets.
“Mushy is okay and he batted at the nets today,” the captain said. “There are still 24 hours to go and he is being monitored closely by the physio. “If Mushy is unable to keep wickets, we have Anamul Haque to do the job.”
Mortaza refused to dwell on the expulsion of seamer Al-Amin Hossain from the World Cup for indiscipline, saying the team had got over that episode.
“That chapter is behind us,” he said. “I think we are one of the most disciplined teams at the World Cup, so if anyone breaks the rules he has to be punished.
“Besides he has been replaced by an experienced seamer in Shafiul Islam. What God does is always for the good.” – AFP/BSS