Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dhaka Bank Test Series 2013

Skipper hoping for pace success

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim (L) calls out at someone as spinner Mosharraf Hossain looks on during a practice session at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Hambantota on Friday. Bangladesh will play against the hosts in the first of three ODIs today.  PHOTO: AFP

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim (L) calls out at someone as spinner Mosharraf Hossain looks on during a practice session at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium in Hambantota on Friday. Bangladesh will play against the hosts in the first of three ODIs today. PHOTO: AFP

The remoteness of the area always takes centre stage in any discussion concerning an international match at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Stadium, named after the country’s incumbent president who hails from the once-backward district, though Hambantota is not the only venue in the world to be located in an isolated area. For any nature lover the journey to the ground is a treat as it involves going through picturesque landscapes. You may even be surprised by the sudden arrival of a big snake as the Bangladesh team were, while returning to the hotel after practice.
Hambantota’s natural bounties were however not on the mind of Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim as he had more demanding issues to deal with ahead of today’s first one-day international of the three-match series. The Bangladesh captain was more concerned with the wicket which is different to what they have played on so far on tour, and also the bigger outfield. If the absence of star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and leading paceman Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was a setback, then the last moment injury of pacer Nazmul Hossain came as a shock as the skipper was looking to his pace bowlers to give the Tigers a good start in the series.
After an impressive Test series, expectations are high. The recent good record of the Tigers in one-day cricket and their success against Lankans in the Asia Cup roughly a year ago demand some positive results.
While the touring skipper stopped short of predicting the outcome of the series in the pre-match press conference, there was confidence in his voice when he said that they wanted to win all matches. He also stressed that there was no pressure on his team, as the expectations they are faced with only came about because they performed well over a certain period, but countered by saying that the Tigers had yet to show their mettle in ODIs in foreign conditions as all of their recent positive results have come at home.
To set that straight, the Bangladesh skipper said that he was expecting something from his inexperienced pace attack other than his side’s traditional strength in spin.
“The wicket is totally different here and the outfield is also big. This is a new venue and we know that it’s a seaming track. So much will depend on them (pace bowlers) and the pace bowling will be important for us. I hope our pace bowlers prove their worth. It’s a day-night match, so the ball will move in the second session,” opined the Bangladesh skipper. And it is worth mentioning that Thisara Perera (10 wickets), Nuwan Kulasekara (8 wickets) and Lasith Malinga (8 wickets) are the leading wicket takers at this venue, and are ready to test the Tigers in the first two games here. Bangladesh will rely on Rubel Hossain, Abul Hasan while Ziaur Rahman, mainly considered a T20 specialist, will get a look in if the Tigers want to play a third pacer.
Mushfiqur however kept faith in the youngsters in his mission to change the tide of the Tigers’ poor overseas results.
“It’s an opportunity for us to play good cricket in ODIs abroad and we are looking to do that. Sri Lanka is a good team, especially in home conditions. Our goal is to play consistent cricket in ODIs abroad. We are missing some key players in Mashrafe (Bin Mortaza) Bhai and Shakib (Al Hasan), but our replacement players proved their potential in the series against West Indies (Bangladesh’s last ODI series which they unexpectedly won 3-2). So I have faith in them,” said confident Mushfiqur.
On the batting front, the poor showing of vice-captain Mahmudullah Riyad might be the biggest concern for the captain, but Mushfiqur was hopeful of his deputy rediscovering his touch in the one-day series.
“He played a bad shot in the first innings of the first Test and was unlucky in the last innings of the second match. He was one of the best performer in the last ODI series against West Indies and I am hopeful that he will come back strongly in the one-day series,” hoped Mushfiqur, adding that he will expect the same approach that Mohammad Ashraful displayed in the Test series if the right-hander plays in the number three position.
The Tigers will wear a black arm-band during the match to mourn the death of Bangladesh President Zillur Rahman and Mushfiqur said that providing his countrymen a positive result in their days of mourning will be an added incentive.