With just over a month left for the World Cup in the United Kingdom, how Bangladesh will fare in the mega event has become the most discussed topic. And when Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes attended probably the last press conference in the country yesterday in Mirpur before the World Cup, he appeared very confident and positive about the Tigers’ chances in the showpiece event starting from May 30.
“Are we capable? Yes,” was how the Englishman responded when asked about Bangladesh’s chances of beating big teams in the World Cup. However, Rhodes did mention that the Tigers will have to give their absolute best if they are to yield positive results in foreign conditions.
“Let us be brutally honest. There are some very good teams going to the World Cup. For Bangladesh to do well, it will be tough. But I do know that a lot of these countries respect Bangladesh. They know that if they have an off day or even play well, Bangladesh are capable of beating sides,” Rhodes said.
Bangladesh will be leaving for Ireland on May 1 to play a tri-nation series which is scheduled to begin from May 5 and with the World Cup soon to follow, Bangladesh will be taking the Ireland tour as a build-up to the mega event.
The series may be the perfect opportunity for the Tigers to try and find solutions to issues like injury concerns, keeping players fresh and fit, game time for talismanic all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan who is currently playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and lastly, figuring out who between Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar would be a better option to open with Tamim Iqbal in the World Cup.
Bangladesh bowling coach Courtney Walsh had earlier indicated that the Tigers may need some back-up bowlers in Ireland in order to keep players still recovering or just recovered from injuries fresh ahead of the World Cup. Rhodes echoed that sentiment.
“We have some niggles. We have got Rubel [Hossain] who is coming back from a side strain, we got Mustafizur [Rahman] who has had an ankle problem. He is coming back to fitness. We have [Mohammadf] Saifuddin who has been playing nonstop with a bad elbow. And Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza], you never know, he keeps going. So I think what he [Walsh] was alluding to was that if we need to then we may have to bring in some players. But that will be if these guys are a little bit slow with their recovery, but at the moment they are going well.”
It will also be very important for Bangladesh to rotate players in Ireland in order to keep them fresh as they have a very hectic schedule, with almost 13-14 matches slated to be played in just one and a half months. After Tamim stressed on the need for rotation, Rhodes seemed to agree yesterday.
“We will try to mix it around a little bit in the tri-nation, but we have to be careful not to get too funky. We won’t make massive changes, but we will share around an odd position just to keep people fresh. I think the length of the tour is more of an issue than the amount of games,” the Englishman said.
Rhodes also thought that Shakib’s involvement with Sunrisers will benefit Bangladesh, pointing out that Shakib playing a few games with Sunrisers is good as the all-rounder got some match time. Shakib was left out of his IPL team a few times and Rhodes took that positively too as he thought that being starved of cricket would encourage him to some good performances for Bangladesh to show the world what he is capable of.
Lastly, although Rhodes mentioned that he prefers a left- right combination in the opening partnership, he can actually use the Ireland tour to figure out the best possible partner for Tamim before heading into the World Cup.