On the ground that was once graced by Viv Richards when he played for Somerset in the halcyon days of West Indies cricket, preparations for facing the Caribbean side had taken on a 1980s feel yesterday. In their first full practice session since the World Cup match against Sri Lanka was washed out on June 11, the Tigers were practising against short-pitched deliveries in the nets to be primed for the West Indies pacers in their next match tomorrow.
Practice was not without its perils as wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim was hit on the right forearm by a short delivery from Mustafizur Rahman and immediately left the nets for treatment by the team physio. He was later taken for an X-Ray after practice,
the results of which were unknown at the time of writing.
The Tigers were a bit dejected after their game against lower-ranked Sri Lanka was washed out as they had targeted the match as an opportunity to get two points and get their campaign back on track. However, the break from cricket -- there was an optional practice session the previous day -- seemed to have rejuvenated their spirits. As the nets were being set up on the centre square of the Coopers Associate County Ground in Taunton, the players had a laughter-filled warm-up game of foot volleyball along with support staff and team officials, which was followed by a lively fielding session.
Apart from Mushfiqur’s injury, there was good news regarding ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and his recovery from a left thigh strain sustained during the match against England on June 8. Shakib, Bangladesh’s form player in the tournament so far, had two long batting stints and also fielded and bowled with the verve that has become a distinguishing feature of his presence in the team in this campaign.
Bangladesh’s other injury concern concerns pace-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin. The youngster has been experiencing back pain since the warm-up match against India on May 28, but has played in all of Bangladesh’s three matches so far. While he did bat for an extended period yesterday, the right-arm pacer did not bowl, which is his main function in the side. Whether there will be a change in the pace-bowling department may depend on whether he bowls in practice today.
It has been raining on and off since Australia’s match against Pakistan here on June 12 and the pitch at the small ground has been under covers for much of the last four days. After a gloomy start yesterday, there was bright sunshine through much of the afternoon and if that continues that could play into Bangladesh’s hands as it would dry up the wicket and make it more spin-friendly.
Bangladesh are currently in seventh position on the 10-team table with three points from four matches. The Tigers won their opening match against South Africa, but lost the next two against England and New Zealand before sharing points with Sri Lanka due to the washout. To stand a chance of reaching the semifinals, Bangladesh would have to win four of their last five matches against West Indies, Australia, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan.