Bangladesh eye semifinal

The Bang-ladesh Under-19 cricket team will leave for New Zealand tonight with a lofty target of finishing amongst the top four in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2010 that kicks off on January 15.
“You can?t go into a mission without setting a target. Our target is to make it to the last four in the World Cup which we are capable of,” skipper Mahmudul Hasan told a news conference prior to their departure on Wednesday.
“We have a strong fielding side. The batting has come together nicely. If I have to comment on weakness then I guess we have a lot of room for improvement in the pace bowling area,” he said.
Asked about the main difference between the last U-19 team and the present one, Mahmudul said that there was an age gap between players last time around but in this team we are all around the same age level.
“We have been given the opportunity to grow as a team and therefore the team spirit is excellent. We know each other really well and there is a great camaraderie,” said the all-rounder.
Bangladesh will play in the Group D of the competition which also includes former champions Pakistan, West Indies and Papua New Guinea.
Coach Minhajul Abedin expressed his satisfaction over the preparation of the team.
“We started in last April and have played a good number of games at home and away against England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. The core group has remained together and we have had some very impressive performances along the way,” he said.
“It?s true that we have not played in New Zealand conditions before but the trip to England last year should help in countering that. Also, for the last one month or so the conditions at home have been similar,” added the former national skipper.
“It has been chilly and the teams have struggled with the dew factor in the ongoing Tri-Nation series. In the last tournament, we played in Sri Lanka the wickets had grass although the weather was really humid and sultry,” he said.
Minhajul identified three key players for the team.
“There are three who I believe will do well at any level. Opening batsman Anamul Haque has been a brilliant find, very positive and fearless. The skipper (Mahmudul) has been our most consistent performer with the bat and ball. Shabbir Rahaman is an exciting leg-break bowler, who also has tremendous ability with the bat,” he pointed out.
“I am also excited with the fact that we are taking two specialist leg-spinners to New Zealand (Shabbir and Nur Hossain). As a part of strategy we may even open the bowling in New Zealand a la Dipak Patel in the 1992 World Cup. I have a lot of faith in this team,” said Minhajul.
Squad
Mahmudul Hasan (Captain), Amit Majumder, Saikat Ali, Shabbir Rahaman, Muminul Hoque, Mohammed Abul Hasan, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Alauddin Babu, Shaker Ahmed, Nur Hossain, Anamul Haque, Quazi Nurul Hasan, Tasamul Hoque, Soumya Sarkar, Arman Badsha.

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