Bullish Bangladesh Keep The Focus On Cricket This Week, In Spite Of The Frustrations > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Bullish Bangladesh keep the focus on cricket despite week of frustrations

Despite a rosy start, Bangladesh have slipped to seventh on the points table after a couple of losses and a wash-out.

Bangladesh have arguably delivered the performance of the tournament so far in their defeat of South Africa at The Oval in game four. It was a stunning victory, a statement made by Mashrafe Mortaza's men. Even though it was just nine days ago, that victory seems a distant memory now. Two defeats - one tight, one not so much - and a washout since has rather slowed down their fast start. They currently find themselves seventh in the table with just three points. Things aren't quite so rosy as they once were.

Sri Lanka are, on paper, one of the easier games in the group stage and the washout robbed Bangladesh of the chance to press for two points, an opportunity their rivals for a semi-final spot may get later in the tournament. Bangladesh's next match, against West Indies in Taunton on Monday, has therefore taken on added significance. The two teams will probably be competing with each other for qualification to the knock-out stages and defeat for either one in Somerset would make their task that much harder.

"I know that Sri Lanka would have fought very hard and are no pushovers at all," said Steve Rhodes, Bangladesh's head coach. "But we do see it as one point lost, and that's disappointing but what can we do about it? Absolutely nothing. Now all we can do is win our games coming up, one at a time, which is the next game West Indies. Try and win that, and then win the next one after that. That's all we can do."

Although the last week has not turned out how Bangladesh would have hoped, the wheels are still firmly on the bus. Out of the three matches they have played, the defeat to England was their only disappointing performance but Eoin Morgan's men were in determined mood after their loss to Pakistan a few days earlier. Most teams would have struggled against England in that form. A narrow loss, but decent fighting performance, against New Zealand at The Oval in their second game could so easily have been a victory.

Bangladesh will feel confident about facing West Indies too. They beat them three times in the tri-series in Ireland before the World Cup, although the men from the Caribbean did not have their IPL players for that tournament, and Bangladesh played the short ball very well against South Africa which should stand them in good stead for the barrage that Oshane Thomas and Andre Russell are likely to dish out in Taunton.

"I'm very, very happy with the way we play the white ball, particularly, when it's short," said Rhodes. "I think you've seen some of our games, in particular against South Africa, that didn't worry us. We've played against the West Indies bowlers recently out in Ireland. Oshane Thomas, as well, when we played against him in Bangladesh just before Christmas. So we are well aware of what they have got and we know what's coming and we've got some plans to try and deal with that."

In one respect, the washout against Sri Lanka can be seen as a positive for Bangladesh. They have a number of players who are managing niggles and the lack of action allows them to further rest and recover bruised bodies. Shakib Al Hasan, a centurion against England, and Bangladesh's best player so far in the tournament should be fit to face West Indies after suffering a quad injury while batting against England. Rhodes said he was "very, very optimistic" that the all-rounder will be fit for Taunton.

In all three games where there has been play, Shakib has formed a three-pronged finger-spin attack for Bangladesh with Mehidy Hasan and Mosaddek Hossain. The trio have taken ten wickets between them but the lack of a cutting edge was exposed against England when Bangladesh were unable to make breakthroughs to stem the tide of runs. They took just three wickets in the first 45.1 overs they bowled by which time England were already well on the way to a huge total.

It highlighted the lack of a wrist-spinner able to turn the ball both ways or a bowler with extreme pace, the type of options which allow captains to be aggressive and hunt wickets in the middle overs. Taskin Ahmed might once have been considered a pace option but although he was included in the squad for the tri-series in Ireland, he has not played an ODI since 2017 through poor form and injury. Bangladesh have not picked a frontline wrist-spinner in the past two years in ODI cricket.

It is not a new problem for them. Their options in these disciplines are limited so they use what they have: canny finger spinners and fast-medium bowlers with good change-ups. "If we had a very good wrist spinner in Bangladesh; I'm pretty sure he would be here," said Rhodes. "But we don't pick people just for the sake of it.

"I'd very much rather go into games with top-quality bowlers than somebody who is substandard but a wrist spinner. Some of the teams have not always been playing a wrist spinner. New Zealand is a good example of that. So you play your best 11. We are very confident about their abilities and what they can do."

Despite the frustrations of the last nine days, Rhodes still sounds bullish. The South African result may be a while ago now but it was still a performance from which Bangladesh can draw confidence. As to was the way they played against New Zealand. "We're very pleased with the way we play the white ball," Rhodes said. "We know we've got some good players ourselves, so we won't be worrying too much about who we're playing against. We'll be hopeful that they are going to worry about some of our players."

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