L-R: Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (L) and Rubel Hossain hone their football skills during practice at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday evening. The duo is expected to spearhead the pace attack when Bangladesh take on West Indies in the third ODI today. Second match's centurion Anamul Haque wears a broad grin as he walks down the lobby of the Sonargaon Hotel yesterday. Photo: Firoz Ahmed. The 19-year-old batsman will be the focus of attention as Bangladesh take on West Indies in the third ODI today.Photo: STAR
Mushfiqur Rahim along with young batsman Mominul Haque came to the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium two hours before the scheduled practice time yesterday evening. The Bangladesh captain had a quick look at the pitch on which the Tigers, 2-0 up in the five-match series, will take on a wounded West Indies in today's third ODI, which will start at 2.30pm.
The pitch might not have looked too different to the Tigers skipper compared to the ones in Khulna and most importantly they are very familiar with the Mirpur surface, but what amazed the little wicketkeeper-batsman was the amount of dew on the ground, which will definitely play a role in the crucial match where a win will give Bangladesh the series with two matches in hand.
So a different challenge awaits the home team who have got some talented young players in off-spinner Shohag Gazi, opener Anamul Haque, middle-order batsman Mominul Haque as the young brigade showed their nerve in the last two games to empower Bangladesh to tremendous success. They have to apply themselves in new conditions but the momentum is with Mushfiqur Rahim's men after they completely outplayed their mighty opponents in the first two games.
And the way Mushfiqur talked at the pre-match press conference at Mirpur yesterday made it clear how confident they are of winning the series against a team who have been below par in their performance in the series so far.
The Bangladesh skipper said that while they were concerned about the dew factor, the pressure is now on their opponents and it would be difficult for the West Indies to bounce back in the series if the home team can execute their plans the way they did in the first two games.
â€œToday I was amazed with the huge amount of dew on the ground. It's a concern but we chased a huge total down in the Asia Cup against India, the dew helped us a bit there,â€ informed Mushfiqur, adding that it would be a slow track where the ball will skid in the second half of the match.
â€œThe pressure is now on the West Indies team. We have the confidence because it's not only the win but the way we won the matches gave us huge confidence. Without any doubt we are playing much better cricket than them (West Indies),â€ he added when asked whether the expectations put any pressure on them.
The Bangladesh skipper was not willing to put too much emphasis on the outcome; instead he was delighted with the way his side played good cricket consistently in all three departments and wanted the same approach from his colleagues in the next three games.
â€œIt's a big opportunity for us, especially for the young players who I believe try their best to grab opportunities. We have been playing good cricket for the last one-and-a-half years and our main concern before the start of the series was that we will be happy if we can be consistent in our performance in all three departments and I will be happy if we can do the same things we did in the first two games in the next three matches, no matter what result we get,â€ said a confident Mushfiqur, who added that they are still missing their champion all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan despite their success without him.
Mushfiqur was not ready to accept that they won the matches because of the West Indies batsmen gifting their wickets, as asserted by visiting coach Ottis Gibson.
â€œWe forced them to give up their wickets. And the way our bowlers bowled there were no options for them other than giving away their wickets,â€ was the slightly annoyed response from the little man when his attention was drawn to Gibson's assertion that 'we have gifted our wickets' and made things easy for the Bangladesh team.
The Bangladesh skipper however was well aware of the fact that West Indies are a very dangerous side, saying: â€œThey have some outstanding players who can take the game away from you.â€
Bangladesh is set to make one change to the winning combination as fast bowler Rubel Hossain will take the place of the injured Abul Hasan.