Vol. 5 Num 263 Tue. February 22, 2005  

Duleep Trophy
BCB XI open campaign today

As the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) XI team warmed up yesterday to begin their maiden campaign in India's premier domestic competition, the Duleep Trophy, coach Dav Whatmore was surprised seeing a green pitch.

"It is special and rare to see in India. The pitch will certainly help us," Whatmore told reporters after his boys spent time in the nets ahead of their match against East Zone starting at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground today.

Asked about his team's prospects, he said, "We are looking forward to positive results. It is a wonderful opportunity to play in this type of tournament."

The Bangladesh coach believed young batsmen Aftab Ahmed, Alok Kapali, Rajin Saleh and Al Shahriar would benefit from the experience of playing in the Duleep Trophy.

Commenting on the debate on the two-tier system in Test cricket, Whatmore said it was a 'shallow view' and weaker teams needed to play quality cricket to improve their standard.

Meanwhile, captain Mohammad Ashraful was pleased with his team's participation for such an important tournament. He said it could also benefit the national team that will be making its first official tour of England in May.

"The wicket is ideal for our prepArations for the English tour and our boys are looking forward to getting positive results," said the gifted 20-year-old right-hander after practice.

"We have to first win two games and then who knows we could reach the final," he added.

The 14-member Bangladesh selection arrived in the Indian city on Sunday and went straight into practice for their first four-day match against East Zone, who will be captained by Sourav Ganguly.

The BCB XI are the second foreign side to play in the Duleep Trophy after England A had taken part last season.

The visitors however have their task cut out against an East Zone side for whom it is going to be a 'must-win' situation having lost their opening outing against Central Zone last week.

Besides indian skipper Ganguly, Rohan Gavaskar, the son of legendary batsman Sunil, is set to return to the side after missing the previous fixture.

East Zone coach V Venkataram said the return of Sourav and Rohan would bolster the team's batting strength against their Bangladeshi opponents.

Former Indian Test opener Shiv Sundar Das said he hoped that some consistent performances in the domestic circuit could help him resurrect his international career.