ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

Bangladesh v England, World Cup 2011, Group B, Chittagong

Bangladesh desperate to revive World Cup fortunes

Sidharth Monga in Chittagong

March 10, 2011

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This World Cup began in Bangladesh. No, not because it hosted the inauguration ceremony, but because when India seemed unexcited and cool about the World Cup, the anticipation began in earnestness here. The whole week leading to the event was one incredible party on the streets of Dhaka. That excitement, however, hasn't carried onto the field for their side. They are now a side looking for some excitement, for some action.

England, on the other hand, have kept the World Cup alive, or at least the league stages of it. They have brought the excitement into what promised to be a boring month of travel all over the subcontinent, with not much to determine. They have been the biggest endorsement for the Associates, who are on the hit list of the ICC and the sponsors. They, however, are looking for a little less thrill and a lot more passive action.

"It's been great to be involved in some thrilling games," their captain, Andrew Strauss, said on the eve of their game against Bangladesh. "Personally I would have liked them to be a bit easier. I'd probably have a bit more hair on my head at this stage of the tournament. But we have shown a lot of character in a couple of those games certainly, and we want these last two games to be less close, to be honest."

They haven't quite been that fortunate on that count in the lead-up to the game: in four days, they have lost Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad to injuries. Surely they won't mind even scraping through to the next round, no matter how comprehensively or scratchily they do it. After that it is just a matter of having three good nights.

"We have been inconsistent in the tournament so far," Strauss said. "We have had two very good games against India and South Africa, two less good ones, against Ireland and Netherlands. We really want to firstly make sure we qualify for the quarter-finals, which means we have to win this game. And secondly, we need to get some consistency into our game. We have got this game, and one against the West Indies in order to do that. It's important that we do do that, and play good solid cricket with both bat and ball."

Shakib Al Hasan walks back after offering a return catch, Bangladesh v Ireland, World Cup 2011, Mirpur, February 25, 2010
Shakib Al Hasan has been a man under pressure after Bangladesh's humiliation against West Indies © Getty Images

The loss of Pietersen and Broad is huge, but like any modern side knows, it is the reality of playing modern cricket with modern schedules. "It's not ideal by any means," Strauss said. "We have had to deal with this over the winter. We are very fortunate we have got two ready-made replacements there. In Eoin Morgan, whose finger has recovered just in time, thankfully. And Chris Tremlett, who bowls very similarly to Stuart Broad, and who has been with us, and is used to the conditions. It could have been worse, I suppose, in some ways. Those guys need to come in and hit the ground running, that's important."

Bangladesh have had issues of the other kind to deal with. It has been a mix of their playing worse than they can, and also the crowds expecting too much. For, when you look at it, they have lost to India and West Indies which, provided both sides are at full strength, they are expected to more often than not. They always knew they would need two upsets, or if they are lucky, just one, to make it to the next round. They still have an opportunity to do that. The end of the world has not yet arrived, but it's the way they crumbled against West Indies last week that made their fans lose it.

Shakib Al Hasan has had to bear the brunt of the people and the former players, but he says he is happy to have deflected all the negative attention onto just himself. "It's difficult to describe," Shakib said of the crowd reaction. "Some days when you play well, they will cheer for you. When you don't play well, they will abuse you. We are not thinking about our crowd. We have to just do our stuff. We know what we can do, and we have to do those things."

However, Shakib didn't seek to hide the pressure the side is under, going into what should be a now-or-never game given their poor net run-rate. "Boys will be a bit tense, but we know if we play our best cricket, we can beat any side. They are confident enough to do the right things. We have the belief in ourselves that if we play our best game we can beat any side in the world, in our home conditions, especially."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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