Not far from The Oval, the scene of a stirring win in their World Cup opener against South Africa on Sunday, the Bangladesh team were enjoying a well-deserved rest day at their hotel yesterday. It may have seemed unlikely that the high spirits that characterised their build-up to the World Cup would continue through a tough opening match against a side ranked three places higher than them in the world rankings, but the 21-run win has served to lift spirits higher, which would no doubt have been boosted further by the fact that they will be celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr either today or tomorrow.
Skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was quick to remind all and sundry on Sunday that they should forget about the win because they had another tough match coming up on Wednesday against New Zealand. Even as most of the team were enjoying an day off out of doors, many with their families, the backroom engine gearing up for the Kiwi challenge has been in motion since Sunday night as Mashrafe said that team performance analyst Srinivasan Chandrasekaran would be working through the night to arm the team with all the relevant data about their next opponents.
Team manager Khaled Mahmud informed reporters yesterday that the pitch for the day-nighter against New Zealand (starting at 6:30 pm Bangladesh time on Tuesday) would be a fresh one and two days before the match had a greenish tinge, which is unlikely to presist till Wednesday but a fresh pitch would still be a difficult proposition for the Tigers against Kiwi seamers Trent Boult, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson, who shot Sri Lanka out for 136 in their first World Cup match, which the Black Caps won by 10 wickets.
It may also bring about some changes to Bangladesh’s lineup. They may think about an extra seamer in Rubel Hossain, but that would mean benching off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz, their most economical bowler against South Africa. There may also be a case for including Sabbir Rahman, who hit a century in Bangladesh’s last match against the Kiwis in February in similar conditions, in place of Mosaddek Hossain. That would also be a brave move as Mosaddek impressed with a 20-ball 26 against South Africa and also lends an extra bowling option with his part-time off-spin. Although it was still early stages as far as planning is concerned, unless the conditions are drastically different from their first match, changes to a winning team seem unlikely.
New Zealand are in form and in the opinion of many, one of the odds-on candidates to make the semifinals. However, Bangladesh have shown time and again that they have the squad depth to challenge anyone and will be hoping to give the nation an Eid present come Wednesday.