Bangladesh prepare for the Caribbean February 18, 2007

Bashar aiming for World Cup progress

Cricinfo staff



Habibul Bashar is aiming for progress beyond the group stages © AFP

Bangladesh believe they have a realistic chance to progress beyond the first round in the World Cup, due to begin from March 13.

Habibul Bashar, captain of the 15-man squad, told reporters that their goal was to upset some of the stronger sides in their group and reach the super eight stages.

"Our target is the second round," Bashar told a news conference as his side prepared to leave for the Caribbean. "Beating Sri Lanka and India will be a tough job, but not impossible."

Bermuda are the other team in their group, but Bangladesh will no doubt draw some confidence from wins over Sri Lanka, India and Australia since the last World Cup. In its first World Cup appearance, in 1999, Bangladesh beat Scotland and Pakistan, but has failed to win a game since then.

"We went twice to the World Cup without any expectations," Bashar said. "Now, we have beaten big teams. We are a much better and mature side."

Dav Whatmore, the Bangladesh coach, echoed Bashar's sentiment, arguing his side had a "realistic chance" of reaching the second round. Whatmore has been in charge since the last world cup in South Africa and has been widely credited for the improvement since then.

The vice-captain Shahriar Nafees said the team are learning. "Since 2005 we have been beating better sides, like Australia, India and Sri Lanka. We've learned how to beat a big side."

Bangladesh's squad has only four players with previous experience of the game's grandest tournament: Bashar, Mohammad Ashraful, Mohammad Rafique and Mashrafe Murtaza. Veteran wicketkeeper Khaled Mashud, who featured in 1999 and 2003, was dropped because of poor form and replaced by Mushfiqur Rahim.

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