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June 29, 2005
As Bangladesh gear up for their final match of a tough tour of England, it is clear that the warm afterglow of that victory over Australia has yet to wear off. Bangladesh face the Aussies for the third and final time at Canterbury tomorrow, but their captain, Habibul Bashar, is adamant that the trip has been a success.
"I am very pleased with the way we have played in the one-day series," Bashar told the Press Association. "We didn't start well against England at The Oval but came back against Australia at Cardiff. In the last couple of games we could have done a little better but we are showing improvement."
Australia exacted swift revenge for their humiliation at Cardiff, as Bangladesh were pummelled by ten wickets in the return fixture at Old Trafford, and their captain, Ricky Ponting, insisted their would be no let-up, even though their place in Saturday's final is already secure.
"There won't be anybody resting as such on Thursday," he confirmed. "If anyone is carrying a knock or needs a game off through injury or something like that, then we'll consider it. But we've tried over the last few games to keep the same group of players together and try and create some momentum. That's partly because of the way we started the tour as well."
Ironically, it is the Bangladeshis who are allowing their gaze to wander. Their next challenge will be a trip to Sri Lanka in September, and after emerging from England with their morale intact, Bashar is adamant that a further upset is on the cards. "We are becoming more competitive," he insisted. "In the last three games we have put ourselves in a position where we had a platform to make a big score but did not carry it through. That shows our improvement."
Bashar singled out the efforts of three of his players - the batsmen, Javed Omar and Mohammad Ashraful, who have provided consistent runs in the NatWest Series, and the paceman, Mashrafe Mortaza - and re-iterated his belief that some of his players would be able to make the grade in county cricket.
"I think it would a great opportunity for us if we came and played county cricket," said Bashar. "If the boys can get a chance to play in England, they should take it because they could improve a lot. There is no shortage of talent in our team. They just need a little bit of exposure and a little bit of experience and to be playing a good level of cricket."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa
Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?