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Abhishek Purohit in Pallekele
September 24, 2012
You summoned incredible courage once and beat up the school bully back in class five, but it doesn't help if till then, and thereafter, he has thrashed you every single time. The memory of that one triumph might even start to fade with each successive failure. In 44 meetings, Bangladesh have defeated Pakistan all of once, in the 1999 World Cup. It's been more than 13 years and 37 losses since that heady Northampton evening. The unfortunate part for Bangladesh is, even a win, unlikely as it seems, may not be enough to keep them in the tournament. Nothing less than a comprehensive victory will do.
Mushfiqur Rahim knows what he is up against on Tuesday, but held out a brave front. "It is difficult but not an impossible task," Mushfiqur said. "It is Twenty20, and England were bowled out last night for 80 [against India]. Who would have thought? Pakistan are good but not unbeatable. If we play our best cricket tomorrow, if everyone puts their hands up and shows guts anything is possible. We know where we have to improve and to how go about it tomorrow."
He also said something which rings true on the other side, considering the kind of rumblings the 1999 loss caused in Pakistan. "There's pressure in every game. They'd think in the same way. Pakistan don't want to lose against us, that is for sure. We have to come hard and we will give our best shot."
Bangladesh rely so much on their spinners but the fact that they played on a fresh pitch against New Zealand, and will do the same tomorrow, has forced Mushfiqur to consider playing another quick bowler. "I thought we made a mistake in the first game as the wicket was not that helpful for the left-arm spinners. We thought there would be something in the day. That is why we choose to field. We didn't bowl well also.
"We are looking at a fresh wicket tomorrow and it is also a night game. We have a few seaming all-round and pace bowling options. Probably we will have one more [quick] bowler in place of a spinner. We will come back tomorrow, have a look at the wicket again and see how it goes."
Mushfiqur said Bangladesh are in a tough group, with New Zealand and Pakistan, but said tomorrow was a chance to perform against another top side. "It brings a big challenge for us. They have great strength in their bowling and their batting is also good. It is one more opportunity, a do-or-die game for us. We have nothing to lose. Our boys did not put their hands up in the previous game, hopefully we will learn from our mistakes."
Fresh pitch or not, Mushfiqur knows Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez will be a handful. "He's [Ajmal] a big factor. He will start bowling in the Powerplay when we have to take some risks. We can't play all their bowlers normally, but attack some. We have players for that, and we are planning in that way."
Bangladesh have Saqlain Mushtaq, the former Pakistan offspinner, travelling with them as spin-bowling consultant. He's been giving tips to the spinners in the squad and has also bowled to the Bangladesh batsmen during training. "He is telling us how to read Ajmal, Afridi, [Umar] Gul and Hafeez. But the application of it will depend on us."
The last time these two sides met, Bangladesh came within one stroke of winning the Asia Cup in Mirpur in what was ultimately an emotional loss. Mushfiqur said that was a different format and admitted Bangladesh would not have the same kind of confidence they had that night in Mirpur. A more revealing stat is that after beating West Indies in their opening game of the World Twenty20in 2007, Bangladesh have lost nine successive matches in the event. It is almost as distressing as their record against Pakistan. They are up against a lot of history tomorrow.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Abhishek Purohit
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala