Rain has been a constant companion of the Bangladesh team since their fourth World Cup match against Sri Lanka was washed out in Bristol on June 11, and it was a presence in Taunton yesterday during their first practice session since that game.
However, in their eagerness to get their World Cup campaign back on track and lift themselves from seventh position after four matches, 12 of the 15-man squad started practice in the afternoon drizzle at the Coopers Associates County Ground. The small ground will be the venue for the Tigers’ next match against the West Indies on June 17. The players missing from the optional practice session were Shakib Al Hasan, Liton Das and Rubel Hossain. Shakib, who sustained a left thigh strain in the match against England on June 8, has been advised to rest and may join the team during practice today or tomorrow.
During practice itself, the Tigers appeared to have overcome the gloom of rain setting back their race to the semifinals, and were enjoying the warm-up game of keepy-uppy and their fielding drills. As the sun broke through batsmen like Mahmudullah Riyad and Mushfiqur Rahim were eager to get the net batting started as there was no telling how long the good weather would stay.
Apart from Shakib’s injury, there are lingering concerns regarding Mohammad Saifuddin’s back problem which first flared up during the warm-up match against India on May 28. Bangladesh bowling coach Courtney Walsh said yesterday that Saifuddin had played a couple of games ‘under duress’ but hoped that the two days of rest would be good enough to have the pace-bowling all-rounder back to 95 per cent fitness. Skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza has been nursing hamstring trouble since the India match as well. Both players, however, looked fit enough during fielding practice, both diving around to take catches.
With the match still three days away, settling on a playing eleven was still a way off. The square boundaries in Taunton are short, which may play into West Indies’ power-hitters’ hands. One change could be to include an extra pacer in Rubel Hossain, but Walsh said that they would have to see the pitch closer to the match day to come to that decision.