Tigers train hard before Afghanistan clash
Even as Ireland were hunting down West Indies in Nelson, in a quiet corner of quiet Manuka Oval in quiet Canberra, Bangladesh were going through a three-hour intense training session. Bangladesh lost both their World Cup warm-up games, one of them to Ireland, and their first opponents in the tournament are Afghanistan, who beat them in the Asia Cup last March in the only previous ODI between the two sides.
Bangladesh have not played an international game for two-and-a-half months now, but going by this afternoon's workout, they are putting in the effort in training. Barring Tamim Iqbal, who is feeling his way back from a knee injury and only faced throwdowns and some offbreaks, the other Bangladesh batsmen had long stints in the side nets just outside Manuka Oval against both pace and spin. The fast bowlers ran in hard in the heat and tested their team-mates' techniques.
The injury-prone Mashrafe Mortaza eased into his spell, bowling off a few paces at the start, and clutching his right shoulder on a few occasions as he loosened up. He was soon sprinting in from his usual run-up, although he was the slowest of the four Bangladesh pace bowlers. He also bowled the shortest spell among the four, choosing to have a short batting stint after that.
Rubel Hossain seemed the quickest, sending Mahmudullah's leg stump out of the ground with a sharp yorker. He also found some swing, while the two young ones, Taskin Ahmed and Al-Amin Hossain hit the surface hard and generated rapid bounce. The well-built Taskin, especially, was quite a sight when viewed from just behind the batsman as he pounded in.
Rubel and Al-Amin bowled in tandem, while Mortaza and Taskin took charge in another net. Spinners operated in the remaining two practice nets. Team manager and former Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud sent down a handful of his mediums as well, even going past the outside edge a couple of times.
Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Soumya Sarkar and Mahmudullah comprised the first batch of batsmen while Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Sabbir Rahman and Mortaza formed the second. Anamul Haque came on in the final batch along with some of the bowlers.
After some initial discomfort in tackling the pace and bounce of a couple of the strongly-built local net bowlers, the short Mominul went on to play some solid pulls, picking up the lengths early and moving quickly into position.
Watched by the odd group of children returning from school, Mushfiqur batted the longest, in the net just adjacent to the pavement. There were some instinctive punches on the up off the middle of the bat along with some top-edged hooks. Soon, he started batting in mock situations. Twelve needed off four balls. Fine leg up, called out Taskin before starting to run in. Mushfiqur calmly walked across and connected on the scoop off a full delivery. He did it against Mortaza too. With two needed off one, however, Taskin fired in a yorker, which Mushfiqur missed. Bangladesh will be hoping all the work prevents another misfire against Afghanistan.
*Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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