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Bangladesh being realistic, aiming to win World Cup opener

February 6, 2015

Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurasinga is confident of at least opening the Cricket World Cup with a win. After that, he knows his squad will have to do something remarkable to have any chance of reaching the quarterfinals.

Bangladesh opens against Afghanistan in Canberra on Feb. 18, a match it is expected to win. Hathurasinga also is targeting a win against Scotland in Nelson on March 5. He knows they’ll need two convincing wins in those matches to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage in front of the Pool A favorites: Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and England.

Chief selector Faruque Ahmed conceded when the squad was announced that Bangladesh was keeping its expectations realistic.

“We have to win at least two of those matches to have any practical chance of making it to the next round,” Ahmed said. “We’ve considered form and who can sustain in those conditions while picking the squad.”

Bangladesh has pulled off some surprise victories in past four World Cup appearances, most famously defeating Pakistan in 1999 and ensuring an early ouster for India in 2007. It also beat South Africa in a Super Eights-stage match in 2007 and England in 2011.

Showing consistency on cricket’s big stage may not be easy for Bangladesh, which has never won an international match in either Australia or New Zealand.

Bangladesh drubbed Zimbabwe 5-0 at home recently but it has not beaten any of the top-tier nations in the year leading up to the World Cup. It also lost at home to Afghanistan in last year’s Asia Cup.

The preparations are far from ideal, given the team enters the 14-team tournament without playing an ODI in two months. A domestic limited-overs competition and training camps at home and in Brisbane will precede official World Cup warm-up games in Sydney against Pakistan and Ireland.

Much of the onus for Bangladesh’s success will be on the batsmen, who have so far failed to post a century in World Cup matches.

Left-handed opener Tamim Iqbal, former captain Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad and Sabbir Rahman form the nucleus of a batting lineup that will have to show impeccable shot selection if it hopes to trouble better opposition.

There’s also uncertainty about how a spin bowling attack led by all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will perform in the less spin-friendly conditions in Australia and New Zealand. Shakib Al Hasan goes into the World Cup as the world’s top-ranked ODI allrounder and the man best capable of winning matches for the team but will need support.

The Bangladesh squad also contains another left-arm spinner in Taijul Islam, who recently became the first player to take a hat-trick on ODI debut against Zimbabwe.

Captain Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan and Rahim have the experience of playing in two World Cups, offsetting a relatively inexperienced squad that includes allrounder Soumya Sarkar — who was picked after playing just one ODI.

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