The surroundings of the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium remained unexpectedly quiet yesterday but inside, the Tigers rearranged their strategies ahead of a potentially do-or-die game.
Bangladesh take on Ireland for their second Group B game of the World Cup this Friday at the team’s favourite venue and while both sets of players remained in their hotel yesterday, a few of the Tigers made their way back to Mirpur to work on their batting.
Batsmen Junaed Siddiqui, Imrul Kayes, Rokibul Hasan and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim batted for a couple of hours with only a few onlookers around as the “home of cricket” returned to its usual desolate look.
Head coach Jamie Siddons was overseeing the batsmen going about their business and while the Australian had their technique, form, temperament, averages, etc in his field of vision, he had other things in mind despite catching a cold.
After the Tigers’ 87-run defeat at the hands of India, a few more glitches in their system showed up but one problem that remained was the use (or misuse) of the batting Powerplay. The first thing the Tigers did after calling for the five-over slot on Saturday was lose Mushfiqur after only three balls. Though they made 30 runs, they lost two more wickets (Mahmudullah Riyad and Naeem Islam) and with India using both their strike bowlers during the five overs, it was evident that the Tigers’ inability to slog (or at least clear the in-field) is going to be one of the major headaches in the coming games.
Among the four who didn’t play against India is of course Mohammad Ashraful and with the rumour mills abuzz with the news of his inclusion, Siddons confirmed that they were considering the right-hander as a possible option.
“There’s a chance but its one of a few options we have. We’ll talk about it with Shakib [Al Hasan], Tamim [Iqbal] and the head of cricket operations,” said Siddons. “We will try to consider all our options, one of which is also sticking to the same team and give everyone another chance.”
The latter option though seems to be less likely given Ireland’s weakness against the turning ball. The possible switch could be of Ashraful coming in to replace Rubel Hossain, a tough call after the paceman turned out to be the best bowler on show against India. But being a second choice, Rubel’s chances could suffer a blow if the think-tank pick a spin-heavy attack.
“Shafiul [Islam] is our opening bowler but we also saw how well Rubel [Hossain] bowled. At the same time [Suhrawardi] Shuvo could also come in, but they also have four left-handers so we would need off-spinners,” he said.
Siddons will have his hands full in the next few days, pondering all his options for a game which could dictate the team’s as well as the nation’s mood in the coming weeks.
“It’s a huge game; if we lose we are out,” said Siddons, before offering more encouraging words, “We didn’t pencil in the India game, we wanted to give them a go but we have pencilled in the Ireland game and West Indies as well. We are confident and we think we can win.”
The stakes could not be higher for the Tigers and in such an important game, the wisdom of taking a punt with an erratic force has come into question.
“I am an Ashraful fan and of course I’d like to see him play. He can also provide a bit of off-spin but we have weighed over all the options that we have. We still have a couple of days to think about it,” said Siddons.