Vol. 5 Num 373 Wed. June 15, 2005  

Last minute worries

There were about ten English reporters present while the Bangladesh cricket team was training at the Brit Oval on Tuesday morning. But they were least bothered about what was happening in the middle. They were more interested about their paceman Jon Lewis, who took four wickets on Monday as England demolished their bitter rivals Australia in what was the first Twenty20 international on English soil.

Lewis had a press briefing at the Oval Long Room and the discussion was dominated by the stunning 100-run win for England in what the Australians claimed a mere game.

The name of Bangladesh in the briefing was addressed once when a reporter sought the opinion of Lewis about England's opening game of the NatWest Series against the ranked-outsiders on Thursday.

Lewis said that England would be as brutal as they were in the two Tests just to show that complacency is the last thing they would like in the build-up for the Ashes in July.

Truly, England are on a high this summer after a successful winter in South Africa and Bangladesh require more mental strength than their technical abilities to prevent what promises to be yet another mismatch.

The team management was weighing options before finalising the squad on Wednesday and despite the poor run of form Nafees Iqbal is set to open the innings with Javed Omar, the lone consistent performer for Bangladesh so far. Coach Dav Whatmore has been left with little option but to change the fragile top-order after Rajin Saleh and young Shahriar Nafees, who scored a first-ball duck in the second practice game against Worcestershire, failed with the bat.

Tushar Imran, Aftab Ahmed, Mohammad Ashraful and skipper Habibul Bashar will provide the backbone of Bangladesh's batting. And the Bangladesh coach will desperately want them to click to at least put up a decent total.

The team management is not quite sure whether to field two left-arm spinners or include all-rounder Khaled Mahmud, who took three wickets against Worcestershire, which the visitors won by four wickets.

Mohammad Rafique will definitely play but Manzarul Islam will fight for the other slot with Mahmud.

It is also certain that Nazmul Hossain, who bowled exceedingly well in the two practice one-day games where he took five wickets, will open the attack with Mashrafee-bin-Mortuza. Tapash Baisya will be rested for the game.

The team enjoyed a three-and-a-half hour training session on Tuesday including nets at the spectacular ground.