ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Bangladesh play down Pakistan warm-up game
Mohammad Isam in Mirpur
February 14, 2011
For regular visitors to the Mirpur venue, be it players, officials or journalists, it was like entering familiar terrain, but one that had a different feel to it. Bangladesh's premier cricket ground has been transformed into an excellence centre and it was fully utilised on Monday, with three teams taking the opportunity to enjoy the facilities. After England used the Academy ground in the morning, Pakistan began to use the newly-laid turf on the northern side while Bangladesh sweated it out at the indoor centre in the eastern corner while also using the green retreat of the main venue for their fielding drills.
It is here, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, that the latter two teams will play a warm-up match tomorrow, a contest Pakistan at least are taking seriously. "Any match before the World Cup is going to be tough," Shoaib Akhtar said. "We are going to take it as a proper match rather than thinking it to be only a practice. We have seen India playing against Australia, which was a pretty serious match.
"Bangladesh have beaten New Zealand few months ago and we all know what Bangladesh is capable of. I predict that Bangladesh is going to be in the semi-finals or in the quarters for sure."
Pakistan have a settled enough line-up and if they do use 14 players tomorrow, it will be to test some of the youngsters. Ahmed Shehzad (despite his recent century), Asad Shafiq and Junaid Khan have never played an international game in the subcontinent and this game would be an excellent way to blood the trio in front of a sell-out crowd.
Bangladesh, however, had a different strategy, and were determined to play down the significance of the game. "They will play fourteen players, we'll play thirteen so it's not a real match, just a practice match," Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons. said. "It is a really good challenge, actually a great practice game."Pakistan are a good team but I'm not worried about them, I'm worried about us. We won't be experimenting, the batting line-up will be close to our actually starting XI. We will use extra bowlers as part of the thirteen and give everyone a try.
Bangladesh captain, Shakib Al Hasan, adopted the same stance. "We are not thinking about the result but we are concentrating on properly using the practice game. We'd rather do well in the tournament than in these games. The players used the last game very well and I was impressed by the pacers. I think Rubel [Hossain] just returned from injury and he will come back better."
This insistance on ignoring the result is an indication that the Bangladesh camp is keeping a close eye on the pressure the players might face in a home World Cup (although it is just a warm-up game), and why they are repeating the mantra that though a win is important for momentum, ultimately, "it's not a real game".
Mohammad Isam is Senior Sports Reporter, The Daily Star in Dhaka
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