Sri Lanka’s upset win over England on Friday has breathed some life into a World Cup that was heading into predictable territory and Bangladesh may be one of the teams to benefit in the race to the semifinals, if they play their cards right. And that starts with winning tomorrow’s match against Afghanistan in Southampton’s Rose Bowl.
It is ironic that Sri Lanka were the team to widen Bangladesh’s avenue to the last four as it was the washout against Sri Lanka -- along with West Indies and Afghanistan one of the three teams Bangladesh were expected to beat -- that at first reduced Bangladesh’s chances. England’s defeat means that one of the three favourites -- along with India and Australia -- may not make it to the semifinals, and that opens up a place for the others. Despite needing to win all of their last three matches after a spirited loss to Australia in their last match on Thursday, the cricketers have been in a good mood and Sri Lanka’s win would have contributed to that.
“Mentally, everyone is in a good place,” said Bangladesh batsman Mohammad Mithun, who has lost his place in the team to Liton Das, yesterday. “We haven’t played bad cricket in the tournament, we’ve played good cricket. Everyone is doing well and everyone is also very energised mentally.”
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mithun, Sabbir Rahman, Abu Jayed and Mosaddek Hossain went for an optional practice session at the Bowl, where India were being given a thorough run for their money by Afghanistan. The last name in that list should provide some succour to Bangladesh fans as Mosaddek has been a vital cog in the Bangladesh machine so far in the World Cup. More than his batting at number seven, it was his part-time off-spin that was missed against Australia during a 48-run defeat. Mosaddek missed the match because of a shoulder injury, but bowled at practice yesterday and should be fine for tomorrow’s game.
There was not much positive to report about the other injury concern. Pace-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin, Bangladesh’s highest wicket-taker in this World Cup, missed the match against Australia complaining of back pain. There has been debate in the media about the severity of his injury and reports of discontent within the team surrounding the issue. Team physio Thihan Chandramohan was set to file a report on Saifuddin’s state yesterday.
Whoever plays, Bangladesh’s sudden-death challenge begins tomorrow with the spin challenge posed by Afghanistan’s spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi.