London: Bangladesh are heading into the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 as a confident bunch, and despite a washout in their practice match against Pakistan in Cardiff on Sunday 26, they will still be feeling well prepared.
They arrived in Ireland to play a tri-series against the hosts and West Indies, and won that tournament without suffering a defeat. That experience of playing in very similar conditions, and succeeding while doing so, softens the blow of this missed opportunity in Wales. Steve Rhodes, the Bangladesh head coach, feels that his team are in a really good place to do well in the upcoming World Cup.
"One of the things the dressing room feels is quietly confident," Rhodes said. "But we are well aware that we are playing against some very good teams. We respect the opposition; we don't fear them. But what we have been trying to do is play that down a little bit, and actually it is great to be an underdog.
"Because if we can keep surprising all these big teams, everybody is going to be commenting about what is going on with Bangladesh, 'how do they do this sort of thing, how do they keep doing this sort of thing.' If we don't get too big for our boots, then we will keep surprising, and we should handle the pressure a lot better," he said.
Rhodes has been in his role with Bangladesh for just under a year, and he says he has built on what was already in place rather than trying to fix something that was not broken. "The key thing is the team were going in the right direction in ODIs before I got here," he said.
"So I had to quickly assess why and how, and then I certainly didn't want to be a person to stop that growth. I had to adapt my natural coaching style to work with the team. Sometimes that can be a little bit taxing for me," Rhodes said.
"But I quickly found out giving a little bit of responsibility to the guys, they are very experienced. I support when I can, realise the ones who want an arm around the shoulder to get the best out of them. But I think the main thing was not coming in and trying to shake things up. It was coming in and trying to see and assess why we were going forward and getting better. And then just enhance that even more," he said.
Rhodes was full of praise for this captain, Mashrafe Mortaza, who has played such a big part in pushing Bangladesh to be one of the top teams in this format. He also mentioned the impact of having Bangladesh's Twenty20 Internationals captain, Shakib al Hasan, in the team as being important for the side's chances.
"Mashrafe leads in a warrior-like fashion," said Rhodes. "He is very much the person at the front, very much the person that people respect. He wouldn't ask anybody to do something that he couldn't do or wouldn't try himself. If he wanted to run through the wall, they would give it a go. And I know that is a great attribute for a captain. I try and support him in some of the areas, just try and work on our relationship a lot, and it seems to work quite well."
"The other one is Shakib in the different formats. They're different types of captains. Shakib is a tactical captain with immense knowledge of opposition, and what to do at the right time. So my working with them two is, actually, I work in a very different way. But again, it is to get the very best out the situation, the relationship, and for Bangladesh cricket. It is not me dictating what is going on, it is making sure the bus has stayed in the right direction," the Bangladesh head coach said.
It isn't just as an on-field leader that Shakib offers extra to his team. he is one of the very best players in the world. "Shakib is world No.1 in ODIs as an all-rounder," Rhodes said. "The next, probably nearest, might be Mustafizur Rahman with the ball at 10, something like that. So he is really our only one in that top bracket. It doesn't mean to say we haven't got good cricketers," he said.
"Just interviewed here was a guy who replaced Shakib in the final against West Indies in the tri-nations, and had a magnificent game ? fifty-odd off 20-odd balls to win, that's Mosaddek Hossain. So he replaced Shakib in that top seven, and bowled spin. So we have managed to do OK without Shakib,"Rhodes said.
"But when Shakib doesn't play, it can cause a few issues. Not only in missing the best player that you have got, but also your balance of the team. Because he is such an important batter and bowler, as well as person because of his tactical ability," he added.
Holder insists West Indies not undercooked despite rain-affected warm-up
West Indies captain Jason Holder has asserted that his side are sufficiently prepared for this summer's Men's Cricket World Cup in England & Wales, despite them going wicketless in a rain-affected warm-up bout against South Africa.
On a frustrating day in Bristol which saw showers halt play on several occasions, South Africa breezed to 95/0 inside 13 overs, before an extended downpour put an end to proceedings entirely.
Holder was not concerned about the dearth of match practice for his team prior to the tournament however, citing some of his players' recent IPL campaigns and West Indies' tri-series in Ireland as reason to believe that they are suitably equipped."We are absolutely not undercooked," he said to reporters following the match
against the Proteas.
"We just came from Ireland, we had a series there, we've had a lot of cricket leading up to this. A lot of the guys have been playing IPL cricket and everybody has been playing cricket leading up to the tournament."We are well attuned to the conditions and we are just looking to start the tournament," Holder said.
While insisting that the side are "under control" Holder did stress the importance of getting some play under their belts when they take on New Zealand on 28 May, also at Bristol, in their second and final warm-up. "Well if the weather allows us to play, then we will be looking to play some cricket," he said.
"It just wasn't our day today, we are under control, but we are just in a situation where we need to get some cricket in in the next two days against New Zealand," said Holder.Holder praised the efforts of Proteas openers Quinton de Kock (37 not out) and Hashim Amla (51 not out), who looked fluent throughout their knocks in the washed out warm-up fixture, but he also highlighted areas in which his bowlers can improve moving forward.
"The two batsmen played well and the wicket played great as well," he said."We just have to make some slight adjustments in terms of our length, I think we were probably a little bit too short and we offered a bit of width at times as well. Especially in these conditions where the ball doesn't do as much, I just think you need to be as accurate as you possibly can in terms of holding line and length, and then trying to create some problems there," the West Indies captain said.
"If you stack up some dot balls, and stack up some pressured overs together, more often than not you get the wickets you are looking for," he said.39-year old veteran Chris Gayle was present in the field during the match's 13 overs, to the surprise of some, considering his usual lack of lust for fielding and the fact that 15 players were at the disposal of the Windies, given the fixture's unofficial status.
Admirably, Gayle even stayed outside for a prolonged period of time in the rain to take
pictures and sign autographs for adoring fans. While the 'Universe Boss' might be keen
to stretch his legs for now, Holder implied that he will not over-exert the opening batsmen
in a bid to keep him fit.
"Chris is definitely up for it you know," he said. "We just try to keep everybody as fresh as possible. Chris is obviously one of those guys who carries a bit of age and is a senior guy within the squad, so while we want him to have a knock out in the middle, we still want to manage the time spent on his feet, as we do everyone else in the team."
"Everyone is equally committed, as they should be, and we are just looking to start the tournament well," Holder saidWhile lauding the highly-anticipated comeback of explosive all-rounder Andre Russell, Holder was also enthusiastic in his assessment of the young players in his squad, claiming that he could give a "whole host of names" from his team that could be
headline-makers in his summer's flagship tournament.
"Russ (Russell) is one of those guys who is very impactful, he is a power-player and
a match-winner," he said."We expect guys like Russ to hold a big fort in our World Cup campaign. It's a matter of everyone coming together, we've got other guys like Nicolas Pooran, Evin Lewis, I could go through a whole host of names in this squad who are potential match-winners on any given day," said Holder."It's about bringing it together collectively and playing an attractive brand of cricket," he added.(UNI)