/ 12 April 2007

Bangladesh’s semifinal hopes dashed

Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar conceded his team’s World Cup semifinal hopes are doomed after a four-wicket defeat against England in the Super Eights match here.

”Had we won today we’d be in the running for a semifinal place, but our chances are slim now. It’s very tough for us and we now hope to finish at least sixth,” the Bangladeshi captain said.

Bangladesh had chances of making it to the last-four after a surprise win over South Africa in Guyana last week, but Wednesday’s defeat virtually knocked them out of contention.

They have just two points from five matches and will play the West Indies and debutants Ireland in their remaining two games.

Defending champions Australia and New Zealand lead the table with eight points from four matches, followed by Sri Lanka (6/4), South Africa (6/5), England (4/5) and the West Indies (2/5).

”I’m happy overall with my team’s performance. We lost a couple of close games and won a couple of big games. We still have two more games to play in this competition and we will try to push hard,” said Bashar.

”I’m pleased with the progress of Bangladesh cricket in this tournament. We have to be consistent, instead of winning one big game and then waiting for the next good performance.”

Bangladesh were let down by their batting on a pitch offering movement and bounce to seamers in the early overs as they could manage just 143 after being put in to bat.

”The wicket played a bit different here, but I still think we should adapt whatever the conditions,” said Bashar.

”The pitch did a bit in the opening 15 overs, because the ball was bouncing and flying. In Guyana, the wicket was different and I think that made the difference.”

Middle-order batsman Saqibul Hasan top-scored for Bangladesh with a solid half-century, but received no support.

”It was a fantastic effort by Saqibul, but one more big knock would have made it a different story. It was a bad toss to lose and if we had managed to score 220, it would have been difficult to chase,” said Bashar.

The Bangladeshi captain himself is struggling for runs, having made just 61 in seven matches.

”I’m frustrated with my batting performance because it hasn’t helped the team,” said Bashar.

The skipper praised his bowlers for making England struggle for victory.

His team reduced England to 110-6 before Paul Collingwood and Paul Nixon steered their side home.

When asked whether his team had a chance after grabbing six England wickets, Bashar said: ”We knew if we could take one or two more wickets at that stage, that would have made it interesting.

”But we knew it was not going to be easy as we didn’t put enough runs on the board.”

Bangladesh may not reach the semifinals, but have the satisfaction of putting in their best performance in the event since making their Cup debut in 1999.

They had won just two games in the first two editions, but looked a vastly-improved side this time as they stunned former champions India in a group match and then South Africa in the Super Eights. – Sapa-AFP