Armed with Fizz and self-be­lief, Tigers seek a famed scalp

New Straits Times - - Sport -

DHAKA: With a fiery new bowler named Fizz lead­ing the young guns and all-rounder Mush­fiqur Rahim the old guard, Bangladesh are aim­ing to leave their mark on the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy where they are ap­pear­ing for only the sec­ond time.

Bangladesh edged ahead of West Indies in the world rank­ings to get their place at the 50-over tour­na­ment where they will fea­ture in the open­ing match against hosts Eng­land on Thurs­day.

Cap­tain Mashraf Mor­taza said the team, who last took part in the tro­phy in 2006, have the men­tal strength to over­come the tough con­di­tions in Eng­land.

“If you look at our group, you must feel it will be a dif­fi­cult job for us,” Mashrafe said be­fore leav­ing Dhaka.

“But you can never be sure. We de­feated Eng­land twice in those con­di­tions, beat Aus­tralia once.

“Though those vic­to­ries are a thing of the past, at least they give you some self-be­lief. It all de­pends now on how we men­tally make prepa­ra­tions for the tour­na­ment,” he said.

Con­sid­ered peren­nial min­nows, the Tigers have seen a dra­matic rise in their for­tunes since the 2015 World Cup. Their move up to sev­enth, saw West Indies fall out of the top eight teams al­lowed at the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy.

Bangladesh reached the 2015 World Cup quar­ter-fi­nals and then posted con­sec­u­tive one day se­ries vic­to­ries against Pak­istan, In­dia and South Africa to zoom up the rank­ings.

Mustafizur “Fizz” Rah­man has emerged as one of the best young bowlers to come out of Asia in re­cent years.

He blitzed through four Ir­ish wick­ets in an eight-wicket win in a warmup in­ter­na­tional last week to high­light his po­ten­tial.

In Rahim, the coun­try’s Test cap­tain, Bangladesh have their best ever wick­et­keeper and a match-win­ning bats­man along­side the likes of Soumya Sarkar who made an un­beaten 87 in the win over Ire­land.

For­mer cap­tain Habibul Bashar be­lieves Bangladesh have seen a rev­o­lu­tion in their game mind­set and are now “wor­thy com­peti­tors.”

“The 2006 Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy was just fun. We had to play in the pre­lim­i­nary round to get into the main draw. But after all these years, we are di­rectly play­ing in the fi­nal round,” Bashar said.

How­ever for­mer opener Shahriar Nafees be­lieves the team will need to punch above their weight to stand up to the likes of Eng­land, Aus­tralia and New Zealand in Group A.

“We have got to be re­al­is­tic,” said Nafees, ar­chi­tect of their only Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy win so far, against Zim­babwe in the 2006 pre­lim­i­nary round.

“We are go­ing to play in the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy and our ri­vals are all tough teams. Es­pe­cially, all three are good in the English con­di­tions where the tour­na­ment will be held,” he said. AFP

Bangladesh’s Mustafizur ‘Fizz’ Rah­man is ex­pected to be a key man at the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy.

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