"Just expect everyone to support us the way you support the national side.
Captain, Bangladesh Under-19s
History beckons the Bangladesh Under-19 side as the young Tigers face their New Zealand counterparts in the ICC Under-19 World Cup semifinal, hoping to make it to their first ever final of the biggest age-level event with a win at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom today.
Aside from the final group stage game against Pakistan, where rain saved the young Tigers’ blushes and helped them finish top of the group, it has been a very good campaign for the Akbar Ali-led side.
A dominant all-round performance from Akbar and Co helped the young Tigers oust hosts South Africa with a thumping 104-run victory in the Super League quarterfinal. More than the impressive performances in the ongoing tournament, Bangladesh’s recent record against the young Kiwis would help their confidence.
Bangladesh registered a powerful 4-1 series victory against New Zealand in their own backyard when the young Tigers toured the country in September-October last year. However, Bangladesh did lose against New Zealand during their final World Cup warm-up fixture last month.
According to skipper Akbar, the young Tigers would need to stick to their plan and implement them well in today’s game for the team to succeed.
“New Zealand played good cricket to reach here [the semifinal]. Our aim is to stick to our plan and try to get them out for as low a score as possible. They have a strong lower order and they have a long batting line-up. I just hope that we can stick to our plan and hope that our bowlers do well.
“If I talk about preparations then I should say that we are prepared well both mentally and skills-wise. Now we just need to implement on the field and if we are able to do that, I hope that the result will be in our favour,” said Akbar yesterday.
Going into today’s semifinal, the U-19s have the opportunity to surpass the achievements of the 2006 batch that boasted the likes of Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal and the 2016 group led by Mehedi Hasan Miraz, which finished third -- Bangladesh Under-19s’ best finish in the tournament.
However, Akbar remained unfazed and mentioned that only by taking it as another regular game could the young Tigers yield a positive result today.
“I think everyone in our team is very relaxed. If everyone takes it as a normal game and not see it as a semifinal or an opportunity to get to the final, then I think everyone can do better and get a good result.”