Bangladesh captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza has placed faith in his World Cup first-timers, believing that if they can combine well with the senior players in the side, the team will be in a good position over the coming weeks.
Among the 15-member squad, four players, including Mashrafe, will play their third World Cup while two will play their second. The nine others will be at their first World Cup and interestingly, the same players will also be playing in Australia and New Zealand for the first time.
The nine have 121 ODI caps between them with Soumya Sarkar and Taijul Islam having made their ODI debut against Zimbabwe on December 1, Bangladesh’s last international match before the World Cup. Taijul became the first player in ODIs to take a hat-trick on debut while Soumya managed 20. Nasir Hossain is the most experienced among the first-timers, having made his debut in the series that immediately followed the 2011 World Cup. Anamul Haque is a regular opener while Mominul Haque has a chance to transform his impressive Test numbers into the ODI format. Sabbir Rahman, who also made his debut in the ODI series against Zimbabwe, is most likely to compete with Nasir for the No.6 slot.
Among the bowlers, Arafat Sunny, Al-Amin Hossain and Taskin Ahmed have made good progress in limited-overs cricket over the past 12 months and will be deemed as reliable as the more experienced Mashrafe and Rubel Hossain.
“It can be very tough but I think our young players are very good,” Mashrafe said. “They haven’t played a lot of international cricket but they have some experience. So hopefully they will turn out very well. We have some experienced players like Mushfiqur [Rahim], Tamim [Iqbal] and Shakib [al Hasan]. [Mahmudullah] Riyad and Nasir are there as well. If the big guns can step up and the young players can help them, we have a great chance.”
Much of Bangladesh’s chances will depend on Shakib, Mushfiq, Tamim and the captain Mashrafe. Shakib, Tamim and Mushfiqur are three of Bangladesh’s top four run-getters while Mashrafe is the country’s joint second highest wicket-taker. Despite leaving out Abdur Razzak, Bangladesh have, what many believe, their best 15 players at the World Cup.
“To be honest, everyone expects us to go to the second round but it will tough. We have to beat at least two bigger teams as well as Afghanistan and Scotland. We are not used to these conditions but we are trying our best to adapt. We don’t target anyone because it will put pressure on us. We will play it game by game and hopefully we will do well.”