Aiming for the quarterfinals

Tigers face SA today
Prior to today’s crunch Bangladesh-South Africa match, the question on everybody’s lips was what awaited the millions of cricket crazy fans in the country? Will it be heartbreak or will today usher in an era of hope?
Shakib Al Hasan’s men can write a new chapter for Bangladesh cricket when they face off against an inform South Africa in a make or break battle at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur. But for each and every single person their feelings have oscillated between hope and hopelessness as regards the outcome of the match which has turned into a do-or-die clash for Bangladesh after the West Indies crumpled against England on Thursday.
If someone take the result of the last two matches and the spirited display of the Tigers and of course the advantage of the home conditions, he or she will definitely be looking at something positive. And if they do manage to come out on top it will be a pinnacle in achievement for the Tigers.
But the pressure would be absolutely on the Tigers because only a win in the day match will take them to the quarterfinals from Group B, the group of death in the ICC Cricket World Cup, and anything else will mean that the World Cup will be over for the Bangladesh team and as well as millions of fans.
On the contrary there is virtually no pressure on the South Africa team and they were found in a relaxed mood while practicing at Mirpur yesterday. They have already confirmed their quarterfinals berth and a win will only keep their supremacy intact.
South Africa is one of the favourites in the tournament, especially their bowling attack has lot of variety, which can exploit any conditions but still Shakib’s men can say that no team is unbeatable and anything can happen in cricket: a fact they have proved time and again. The on paper favourite does not always win the matches which Bangladesh team has also proved in the tournament by beating the mighty England at Chittagong.
It’s not only that someone plays with emotion versus reality but the fact is also that Bangladesh has a sweet memory of a 67-run victory over the same opponents four years back in the second round of the 2007 World Cup in Guyana..
Thus Shakib’s men not only can take the inspiration from their last two back-to-back victories against England and Netherlands but they can also take it from their great victory in the last World Cup.
Like the 2007 game, Bangladesh have pinned their hopes on the slow bowlers this time also and what will be required is an innings like Mohammad Ashraful’s, who hit 87 in Guyana in 2007. He will not feature today even as Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said that everybody has to play their part to win.
“It’s not as if only Tamim and myself can fire, rather everybody must contribute if we want to win the match,” said Shakib.
Pointing out that the spinners squeezed them in 2007, South African skipper Graeme Smith said that they were more careful this time. “We’ve had a good look at Bangladesh. They’ve averaged 40-42 overs of spin in a game so we expect to face a lot of spin tomorrow. They also have seven left-handers in their team so we’d also look at that and see how we can benefit,” said Smith.
By winning three games in the showcase event, Bangladesh almost achieved their pre-tournament target and now it’s time for them to take their game into new height.

 

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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