Published: February 28, 2010
Can Shakib Al Hasan’s men prove, while launching their campaign against England tomorrow, that they are the better team than the one that played at home more than six years back?
One should get a positive answer if he or she takes the words from the young Bangladesh skipper who made a bold statement ahead of the first one-day of the three match series to be held at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur tomorrow.
There was no shortage of confidence while captain Shakib and coach Jamie Siddons spoke about their chances against a new-look England side during a pre-match press conference at Mirpur yesterday. Both have considered the favourable home conditions and their recent graph of improvement to think big about the series. Shakib was very much confident that it is not unlikely for them to win their first international match against England, the only major force they have yet to conquer.
“Yes, we are still winless in this year after two series’ but it’s possible to win matches against England if we can play as per our ability. Realistically at least we can win one game; hopefully even two,” said a confident Shakib, whose side lost all the matches this year but played some decent cricket against formidable opponents like India, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
“It’s a better team than the one which played the home series back in 2003. And in home conditions we are a very good side and as always we have the opportunity to win the match,” he added.
Shakib also said that they have a good chance to win the first match against England as the visitors are missing some of their key players in the series. “It’s an inexperienced side but definitely the new players will also try their best to cement their position in the team but what I believe is that the conditions may favour us”.
The Bangladesh captain informed that the wicket will be different from the tri-nation tournament.
“In the tri-nation the ball was coming on to the bat nicely but hopefully this time the pitch will offer low bounce and the ball will come to the bat late as we desire. We have a decent spin attack which I believe can play a big role in the series while as far as I know they (England) have only one good spinner in their arsenal,” Shakib said explaining the advantage they can enjoy during the series.
Coach Jamie Siddons also echoed his captain’s sentiment. “We are hoping that the conditions out here will undo them.”
The Australian also painted a positive picture of his team’s recent performance against the top-ranked sides.
“Two guys in New Zealand played really well in grassy conditions. In the tri-nation against India and Sri Lanka we were very good, and was probably beaten by the dew a couple of times. In our condition we played really well. We are a developing team, a team that is growing in confidence,” said Siddons.
“The last twelve months we have been going through a really good time. I think we are still a team of 22-23 year olds. But we are getting better, not having those bad patches. We are putting good scores on the board and our bowlers are developing. [Shakib] is probably the best or second best spin bowler in the world. Tamim Iqbal is playing beautifully at the top of the order and a couple of really good bowlers are bowling 135 kilometres and over. So we are a better team than what we were,” he added.
The Bangladesh coach also said that England would need to play their best cricket to beat his side.
“England need to be at their best to beat us. I guess a couple of key players may be the difference. But we will wait and see,” he said when asked about the absence of some key players like Andrew Strauss.
Responding to a question about Mohammad Ashraful’s omission, Siddons said: “I spoke to Ash after the New Zealand series; he was talking about having a rest. Not sure what happened over the last three or four days. But Ash has made that decision and I respect that. He is a little diamond in the rough that we are looking to. He needs to step up to come along with, Tamim, Shakib, Mushfique and Riyad. Those guys have really stepped up and now we need Ash to fill the gap and then we will be a formidable batting team.”