Vol. 5 Num 382 Fri. June 24, 2005  

Bashar's toss fear

Habibul Bashar is by far the most successful Bangladesh captain with seven wins in the last 15 months under his belt and the triumph against Australia at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff in the NatWest Series is the brightest jewel in his crown.

But the 32-year-old felt that the luck factor has done little in his success story since he took over from Khaled Mahmud.

Take for instance the last five tosses he was involved in -- four with England captain Michael Vaughan including the two-Test series and the other one against Australian captain Ricky Ponting. He lost all of them.

"I feel more pressure when I walk into the middle for the toss than batting out there. I have already lost five out of five and most likely lose the last three and create a record of some sort," said a witty Bashar with a boyish smile on his face after the net session at Old Trafford.

"Although I have lost the tosses in the last two one-dayers, it eventually fulfilled my wish," said the Bangladesh captain three days ahead of the repeat clash against Australia.

Ponting surprised everybody by electing to bat at Sophia Gardens, where the team batted first in the last four games ended up a loser.

"We also had a plan to bowl first at Trent Bridge against England and I'm relieved that I called the coin correctly. The information we gathered is that at Trent Bridge the ball does a bit in the first hour. But we bowled badly in the first 15 overs," Bashar said.

England went to score 391-5, the second biggest innings total in one-day history, but Mohammad Ashraful with a blazing 94 saved the blushes of the visitors.

Bashar however disagreed that the 168-run defeat against England at Trent Bridge was a blow to the morale of the team after the famous five-wicket win against Australia.

"Everyone in the team looks very positive. We might have lost against England by a big margin but we could have easily posted a big total against them after Ashraful was out in the 26th over," he said.

Bashar's men enjoyed a two-hour training under brilliant sunshine at Old Trafford, which is the home of English county Lancashire and where great left-arm paceman Wasim Akram played for more then ten years.

Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore also enjoyed a brief stint with them after his days with Sri Lanka were over.

"Whatmore coached the Lancashire team here before joining Bangladesh. So, his experience will be a great help for us before the next game against Australia," said Basher.

But the Bangladesh captain said that he was not thinking about repeating the same feat against the Australians.

"Our target is to play positive cricket no matter we win or lose. We have beaten Australia but at the same time we also know that victory will not come quite often for us. What we can to do is play positive and fight till the end," Bashar said.

The number of Bangladeshi expatriates in Manchester, the third most important commercial city in England after London and Birmingham, is quite noticeable, They are very excited at the prospect of watching a good contest in the city that has produced England's most recognisable footballer David Beckham and all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.