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22 February 2024

Bangladesh's Mortaza wary of England backlash

Bangladesh players Mashrafe Mortaza (left) and Taskin Ahmed jog during a training session ahead of their 2015 Cricket World Cup Pool A match against England at Adelaide Oval on March 8, 2015. (AFP)

By Agencies

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza cautioned his team against taking struggling England lightly in Monday's World Cup clash at the Adelaide Oval, saying it was tough to predict the outcome of a "pressure match".

A win for the Tigers will see them knock Eoin Morgan's side out of the tournament and move into the second round for only the second time since their World Cup debut in 1999.

England, with one win in four matches, must beat both Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Sydney on March 13 to stay in contention for the last eight.

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Even that may not be enough if Bangladesh, who have five points to England's two, upset co-hosts New Zealand in Hamilton on March 13 to squeak through to the quarter-finals from Pool A.

Mortaza acknowledged beating England will be one of the biggest wins for Bangladesh, but expected the rivals to come hard in what will be good batting conditions on the drop-in pitch.

"We are not taking England lightly at all," the skipper said. "They are a very experienced side and know how to deal with pressure games like these.

"I am not thinking of the quarter-finals yet. The focus is to bat, bowl and field well so that we can trouble England. We should just think about our cricket and not worry about what England have been doing."

Mortaza said his team's ability to chase down a 300-plus target in the last match against Scotland had given them confidence to tackle England.

"It was a good win and has given the boys a lot of confidence," he said, adding it did not matter that the chase was achieved against a winless non-Test playing nation.

Mortaza said the aim before the tournament was to defeat one of the top teams in the pool and the opportunity had arrived to realise the dream.

Bangladesh have beaten both Afghanistan and Scotland, lost to Sri Lanka and shared the points with Australia in a rained-off match.

"The equation before we came here was to beat Afghanistan and Scotland and take a chance against a big team," said Mortaza. "That chance has now come and the real challenge is to see if we can achieve that.

"We know 160 million people back home are praying for us to succeed. I hope we can give them that joy because we are waiting to play our best cricket."

Mortaza, whose 14-year career has been marred by at least seven leg surgeries, said he was fit to play after hobbling with an apparent hamstring strain against Scotland.

"I am ready to play, I have to play," said the 31-year-old pace spearhead who has taken 187 wickets in 147 one-day internationals. "It looks better."

Bangladesh defeated England in the 2011 World Cup but Mortaza refused to read too much into the two-wicket win in Chittagong.

"That was at home and four years is a long time," he said.
"It is a nice memory to have, but the important thing is to play good cricket now. Everything will depend on how we play, not what happened four years ago."

England out to prove a point, says Moores

England coach Peter Moores is confident his beleaguered team will rise to the occasion in Monday's must-win World Cup clash against Bangladesh, saying the players were "excited" by the challenge ahead.

Eoin Morgan's side, with just one win in four matches, must beat both Bangladesh at the Adelaide Oval and Afghanistan in Sydney on March 13 to stay in contention for the last eight.

Even that may not be enough if Bangladesh, who have five points to England's two, upset co-hosts New Zealand in Hamilton on March 13 to squeak through to the quarter-finals from Pool A.

Moores admitted it was a pressure game which his team was ready to handle and prove critics wrong by making their way to the quarter-finals.

"There is certainly pressure on us as a team because we have not played as well as we would have liked to have done," Moores said Sunday.

"We know we've got to win the game.

"The ability to be able to handle pressure and play under pressure is part of the job of being an international player. So that will be the challenge for the players tomorrow," the under-pressure coach added.

"We're very aware of it, and I think we are up for that challenge."

Moores said the World Cup campaign had been a good learning experience for the younger players, who now had to prove they belong at the highest level of the game.

"International cricket is played by tough men," he said.
"There is no compromising that. We've got senior players whose responsibility is to help the others.

"Some of our younger players have been through some pretty tough experiences and they have to adapt to them, and they have to be able to then come back with something.

"Yes, it's a pressure game. But I only see a lot of people very excited to play and they feel they've got a point to prove and they want to go out and start proving that.

"The only place to do that is on the cricket field."

England lost to Bangladesh by two wickets in the previous World Cup in 2011 - a match in which Morgan made 63 - but still survived the shock defeat to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Moores, asked if this was a revenge match, said what happened four years ago did not matter anymore.

"We have a different group of players who are very focused on how we are going to play tomorrow and how we are going to play the best game we can. That is the most important thing for us."

Moores said the playing XI had been picked, but refused to reveal the team, increasing speculation whether hard-hitting batsman Alex Hales will get his first game in the tournament.

"We're pretty clear on what that XI is now but we will announce that at the toss," he said. "You've obviously got to get the best XI out to win a game and we know we have got a really big game tomorrow."

Moores predicted a high-scoring match on the drop-in pitch at the Adelaide Oval.

"It's historically been a good batting pitch here and I expect it to be full of runs," he said. "We'll put out what we think is the best team to be able to take wickets and put Bangladesh under pressure."