Bangladesh face Irish test for survival
Bangladesh take on Ireland in a tricky group A clash on Monday that will almost certainly take the winner into the next round of the World Twenty20.
The Tigers, who lost to India by 25 runs on Saturday, must win to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the Super Eights. A defeat will send them packing from the 12-nation tournament.
“We know this is a do-or-die match for us, so we have to be at our best,” said Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful ahead of the group A game at Trent Bridge.
“We can’t afford to put a foot wrong now.”
Ashraful said the experience of playing against defending champions India, where they scored 155-8 in reply to their rivals’ 180-5, will hold the team in good stead.
“We learnt our lessons,” he said. “I think we matched India well but just did not have good partnerships to keep going till the end.
“We bowled and fielded quite well. We must do the same again. The batsmen must put up enough runs on the board.”
Opener Junaid Siddique tamed the Indian attack with 41 off 22 balls that contained three sixes and two boundaries, but none of the other top order batsmen were able to fire.
It was left to tailender Naeem Islam, who followed his two wickets with a 17-ball 28 to narrow the victory margin.
Bangladesh raced to 74 by the eighth over against the champions before India’s left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha turned the match around with four wickets, including two in his first over.
“We have to do much better against Ireland,” said Ashraful. “I am not taking the Irish lightly. They know the conditions well and have nothing to lose.
“It will be a tough game but I am confident we will put up a good show.”
Ireland, a non-Test playing side unlike Bangladesh, will ride on the experience of their county players to make an impact in their first-ever World Twenty20.
Eoin Morgan, who plays for Middlesex, was snapped up by England for the tournament, leaving captain William Porterfield, Boyd Rankin and the O’Brien brothers, Kevin and Niall, to keep Ireland’s flag flying.
It is almost the same Irish team that stunned Pakistan in the 50-overs-a-side World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007 to advance to the second round.
Ireland have never played a Twenty20 international against an established side, but have won three of their four games against fellow minnows.
They also stunned Worcestershire last month after bowling the English county side out for 58, a victory that pleased their coach Phil Simmons, the former West Indian opener.
“That win was just what we needed before the tournament,” he said. “It was achieved without our top county players which says a lot for the depth of the squad. I will be very disappointed if we don’t make our mark.
“Obviously our best chance lies in the game against Bangladesh but the beauty of Twenty20 cricket is its unpredictability. We will be going into the tournament in a confident mood.”
Ireland’s last group match is against India on Wednesday.