Sri Lanka captain Charith Asalanka lost the semi-final match, by a huge margin to India, and had no reason to be upbeat during the post-match media briefing. He had no idea what would happen when he spoke about Bangladesh in response to a question, and he was totally taken aback…a wave of cheer and applause crashed down on him when he said Bangladesh had a good chance to pip India to the cup.
Bangladesh U19 team will face West Indies on February 11, Thursday at Mirpur stadium for a place in the final against the tournament favourites India. They have reasons to be in good spirits, and the fact that the team is peaking at the business end of this World Cup may not bode well for their opponents.
When Stuart Law, technical director of Bangladesh U19 team spoke to the media after practice today, he reciprocated the positive mindset of the young cricketers, and how they were looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“The boys are up for the fight. They have played West Indies before, and they know what to do to get the job done on Thursday” Stuart Law said to the reporters. He was particularly pleased with the matured chase under pressure during the quarter-final match.
Bangladesh were in a spot of bother against Nepal chasing 212, when they lost their fourth wicket in the 29th over. Thankfully, Zakir Hasan and captain Mehedi Hasan Miraz stood their ground, and steered their team home under pressure with the maturity and calmness of seasoned pros.
The run-rate climbed to seven after the 40th over, but never did the Bangladesh batters lose their cool, played wild slogs across the line, or tried to do anything fancy out of frustration. They knew exactly when to attack, and timed the chase like clockwork…something even the senior Tigers should be proud of.
Having failed to fire in the last match, Bangladesh leading run-scorer in this tournament, Nazmul Hossain Shanto focused on the positives against Nepal, and worked hard on the weaknesses ahead of the crucial clash against the West Indies team.
“West Indies have some good fast bowlers, but we have played some of them before and seen tapes, so we are not worried about their quicks” said Shanto. However, he was wary of the failures at the top of the order, and expected to make amends in the next match. Shanto has scored 208 runs in four matches with 113 not out as his personal best.
The Bangladeshi batsman was confident going into the semi-final considering West Indies, the team they white-washed only a month ago. On the other hand, the current West Indies have some new faces, and can definitely offer some nasty surprises with the hard, new ball if the pitch is conducive. Chemar Holder, Shamar Springer and Alzarri Joseph were sharp off the deck, and constantly hurried the Pakistani batters in their quarter-final match, even when the ball had lost its sheen and hardness.
Holder and Springer regularly clocked over 140 km per hour, and got steep bounce from a good length with their high-arm action. They used the short-ball intelligently, and could bowl at the body with pace to deny any width. If the overhead conditions and the pitch are in bowlers’ favour, West Indies would probably bowl first to exploit the situation. In such a scenario Bangladesh top-order will be find it more difficult than facing spin or military medium bowlers.
Bangladesh have more boxes ticked in the bowling department, with Saifuddin leading the pack with nine wickets in four matches. The spinners have done well so far, and non-subcontinental teams have found it tough to get on top of them when the pitch offers a hint of turn. They kept things tight during the middle overs, and managed to strike at crucial moments in most of the matches.
Saleh Ahmed Shawon has eight while skipper Mehedi has seven wickets to show for their efforts. Bangladesh’s bowling is probably their stronger side, but they will need the batters to give them a decent total against West Indies on Feb 11, Thursday.