Bangladesh will be confronted with pressure of a different kind when they take on Sri Lanka today in the World Cup game at the Bristol County Ground. In the five World Cups they have played so far, Bangladesh were not expected to beat Test playing nations other than Zimbabwe, and that too only since 2007. In this edition, if rankings are anything to go by, there are three teams that the seventh-ranked Tigers are expected to beat — West Indies, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, ranked eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.
Added to that is the high chance of rain in Bristol today, which will affect Bangladesh more as they have just one win from three matches.
With all 10 teams playing each other once, a team would have to win a minimum of five matches (the English weather permitting) to stand a chance of qualifying for the semifinals. With Bangladesh having won one of three matches so far, against higher-ranked South Africa, and with all three matches against lower-ranked opposition to come, today’s match against Sri Lanka takes on special importance.
“I think there is no relief in any World Cup match. Every match is important for us; we have kept that in our equations from the start,” Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza said at the pre-match press conference yesterday. “It is true that we have played the first three matches against teams [New Zealand and England being the other two] who are set in these conditions, whereas we would need time. Even so, after winning the first match we thought that if we could win another of the first three, it would have become easier for us. We thought that we could win the New Zealand match especially, because after South Africa our concentration level, our confidence level was so high that we could have beaten New Zealand.”
All the talk before and during the early stages of the World Cup has surrounded whether Bangladesh can reach the semifinals, and Mashrafe said that was still the aim, although two successive defeats had made it harder.