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June 15, 2007
As Bangladesh gear up to tour Sri Lanka, Mohammad Ashraful, their new captain, has pinpointed batting success as they key to a rewarding series. For the last week, preparations at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium through indoor and outdoor net sessions and on pitches in the middle have focused on the side's batting.
Ashraful, speaking after the final practice session before they leave, said he was confident his batsmen would break through. "Every member in this team has worked on their batting. We are starting with Test matches and I think that if we can succeed with the bat, we can go a long way in this tour.
"We have worked very hard over the last week and from my experience, I can tell you that the team look confident, going into this tough series."
Given that Bangladesh managed only two Test half-centuries and one in ODIs during their last tour to Sri Lanka, the emphasis is not surprising. "We worked on ball selection -- which to leave and which to play. I think the amount of time we have given in the middle or at indoors will be valuable once we get going in the Test matches. Wherever we have practised, we have put more importance on our batting," said Ashraful.
Bangladesh were whitewashed on their previous tour in 2005, a tour former captain Habibul Bashar dubbed Bangladesh's 'worst ever.' Ashraful pointed out, however, that this side will go with a different attitude. "The difference from our last tour there and now is that we have done well in ODIs over the past year. Players are more confident as a result and I think we can ensure a better show than last time.
"Teams have struggled there [in Sri Lanka]. But we have players with runs and wickets under their belts and that gives self-belief. Our team has played together for the last six to seven years from the under-13 level through to the national side and our goal is to try help each other and that keeps the team spirit so good."
Shaun Williams, coach of the side for the series after Dav Whatmore didn't extend his contract, was also happy with the preparations. "We are fortunate to have had such good practice sessions given the conditions. Tribute must go to the curators for giving us everything we needed. I think we haven't missed a single session during this camp, and it is remarkable in this weather.
"The strength of these boys is their attitude and keenness. Every practice session, they arrive with more vigour and I think given their wealth of talent, it will be a good time to move forward in international cricket," said Williams.
Bangladesh leave for Sri Lanka on Saturday for three Tests and three ODIs. They play a three-day warm-up game from June 20 and the first Test begins, in Colombo, on June 25.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.