Bangladesh target U-19 World Cup semi-finals
Allister de Winter, the Bangladesh Under-19 coach, believes his side have a good chance of making the semi-finals of the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka.
"This group (of players) has been together for seven months training solidly and in that period of time we have had a lot of competition," de Winter told reporters in Colombo. "That has allowed us to work on our simple but effective game-plan and we are happy with the way that has gone."
In four previous attempts, Bangladesh have yet to make the Super League stage, but de Winter remained optimistic following Bangladesh's recent performances. In last November's Afro-Asian U-19 Cup in India, they secured a key win over Pakistan before tasting further success in a tri-series at home featuring Sri Lanka and England. "We have performed well in this competition and that has meant we have a high expectation of ourselves and the country also has high expectations of us now, and rightly so," he added. "We expect to, at best, make the Super League and if we can do that then we are confident we can reach the semi-finals."
Bangladesh begin their World Cup campaign against New Zealand on Sunday. If they harbour hopes of making the semi-finals they will have to secure a top spot in their group, which also include Pakistan and Uganda. "Every match will be tough for us ... and that first match against New Zealand is the one that really matters to us," said de Winter. "We know a little about Pakistan, having played them in the Afro-Asian U-19 Cup but we know nothing about New Zealand and we will be making efforts over the next few days to make sure we gather a bit of information on them. Uganda are also in our group and they will provide a different challenge for us." Mushfiqur Rahim, the Bangladesh captain, echoed de Winter's words. "Our preparation and our game-plan is definitely super and that is why we feel we can do well in this tournament."
Bangladesh's run-up to the World Cup included two one-day victories against the United Arab Emirates. Among the runs were Rahim, Mohammad Shamsur Rahman, Sirajullah Khadem and Sakib Al Hasan, a fact de Winter cited as key to Bangladesh's efforts. "I am confident we can pick any (combination) of our 14 players on any given day and play very good cricket," he said. "Everyone is fine, we have had a few days to rest and recuperate (after the UAE matches) and now we are ready to go."
Bangladesh U-19 squad: (from) Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), Mehrab Hossain (vice-capt), Nabil Samad Chowdhury, Sakib Al Hasan, Roqibul Hassan, Kazi Kamrul Islam, Rezaul Islam, Sirajullah Khadem, Tamim Iqbal Khan, Dollar Mahmud, Md Shamsur Rahman, Md Sohrawardi, Mehedi Hasan Siddiqui and Ishraq Sonnet.