Tigers ready for all

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The ICC Twenty20 World Cham-pionships are already underway and the Bangladesh team gets going today believing that anything and any result is possible.

Their opening match against the West Indies at the Wanderers is as crucial as cricket games come, especially for the West Indies who must win to stay in the competition. Victory for Bangladesh on the other hand would ensure they are not catching an early flight back home and a chance for more heroics in the Super Eight stage.

The match starts at 2pm Bangladesh Standard Time.

The Tigers trained for three hours at the Wanderers in the morning and it was a relief for captain Mohammad Ashraful that those nursing injuries all came out okay from the practice.

Tamim Iqbal, who has a moderate fracture on his left index finger batted and fielded without any noticeable discomfort and key spinner Abdur Razzak also showed no side effects from a strapped left hamstring and was his usual self while bowling.

Yesterday was Razzak's only second practice session following the muscle strain suffered during the warm-up game against Scotland on September 8.

"It is very good that we had all the players fit for selection for this important match. We have had a nice preparation phase leading up to this competition and now the real game begins and we have to be at our full strength," said Ashraful.

Bangladesh have left out Nadif Chowdhury, Mahmudullah Riyad, Junaed Siddique and Ziaur Rahman from the starting line up. Nadif will be the 12th man. Tamim and his prolific Chittagong partner Nazimuddin will open the batting with Aftab Ahmed, Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan and Alok Kapali completing the top order.

"All our preparation has been directed towards this moment. I have been scoring runs in the warm-up matches and hopefully that will continue. I have faced the Pakistan attack that I consider among the best in the world and that has given me a lot of confidence. But in Twenty20 you cannot say that this is a good bowling side and this is not. The West Indies are experienced in this form of the game but I will play my natural game," said Nazimuddin who has top-scored for the Tigers in three out of their five warm-up matches.

The Bangladesh side watched the opening match of the tournament popularly called T20 here at the Wanderers on Tuesday afternoon and felt the amazing atmosphere.

Sitting in the stands side by side with the colourful multicultural and diverse crowd was an occasion to behold. The packed Wanderers roared to every South African wicket taken or run scored and at every overs break groups of dancers would delight the crowd by getting on stages made for them and move their bodies to the beat of the booming music. They also saw West Indies score 205 batting first thanks to the first T20 century by a rampaging Chris Gayle and yet his team losing with nearly three overs to spare.

"Obviously Gayle is their key batsman. But we are not targetting any particular player. In T20 you may get a major player out early but then someone else might turn up the heat when you least expect. All the players in their side are good cricketers and we are a good team also. We just have to play our natural game and stay focused in all three departments. The outfield at the Wanderers is like a carpet so balls will come fast. So the fielders also have be on their toes all the time," said Ashraful.

Mohammad Ashraful (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Nazimuddin, Aftab Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, Alok Kapali, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (Vice Captain), Farhad Reza, Mushfiqur Rahim (wicketkeeper), Abdur Razzak, Syed Rasel. 12th man: Nadif Chowdhury.