Mashrafe Mortaza, the Bangladesh captain, believes the one-day game represents their best hope of success.
Shorter the better, says Mortaza
BIRMINGHAM // As Bangladesh continue with their quest to establish themselves among cricket's elite nations, Mashrafe Mortaza, their captain, believes the one-day game (ODI) represents their best hope of success. Mortaza is attempting to mastermind their first win against England today, in the first of Bangladesh's three ODIs against the hosts. After winning every match on their winter tour to the subcontinent and then sweeping the recent two-match Test series on home soil, England remain the only Test nation Bangladesh have not beaten. While England have never been in serious peril in the longer format, only an imperious chase by Eoin Morgan, the century-maker, stopped the Tigers breaking their duck in a one-dayer in Dhaka earlier this year.
"It isn't going to be easy against England. We have to play good cricket and hopefully perform well this time," Mortaza said. "I think we are a better team in one-day cricket than in Test cricket and I think this game suits us more. A few of the batsmen in our side are in good form and hopefully a few other guys can join in. "Tamim Iqbal is definitely a guy who can change the game for us. We are looking for him [to perform] but not just him: Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Jahurul Islam, too. There are a few guys who can do good things for us and hopefully they will do that here."
Bangladesh's tasks would undoubtedly have been harder had Kevin Pietersen been on duty for England, but he is out of the series with a thigh strain. He would nevertheless have been rested - with Graeme Swann, the heavily worked spinner, also standing down this week in favour of James Tredwell - but Mortaza insists Bangladesh would rather have faced England's star name. "Playing against Pietersen is a great experience for us," he said.
"A player like him is amazing to play against and when KP plays we feel we can learn so many things from him, so it's not good for us [that he is injured]." With their unblemished record against Bangladesh, it would be easy for England to relax a little, but Andrew Strauss, the captain, said: "We've won four out of six one-dayers [this summer] and we're very keen to win these three. They're a dangerous side, they all play shots, and Tamim Iqbal in particular is very dangerous. I don't think we're a good enough team just to turn up and win.
"We want to take things forward from our Australia win [a 3-2 series win earlier this month]. There's no room for complacency on our part." * PA