Mashrafe: Bangladesh needs to get back on CWC winning track

BRISTOL, England (AP) — Bangladesh will start as the favorite for the first time in this Cricket World Cup.

It makes no difference to captain Mashrafe Mortaza.

"We expect to win," Mashrafe said on Monday, a day before his team plays its fourth match of the tournament, against Sri Lanka in Bristol. "Even the New Zealand match, even the England match. Even Sri Lanka. Pressure will be there in every match.

"We have to cope with that, make sure we deliver. A few things will go against us, but at the end of the day we have to make sure we're on the winning side. From the first ball, that's our target."

Bangladesh, a first-time quarterfinalist four years ago, is aiming to reach the semifinals for the first time.

The effort is powered by Mashrafe, allrounder Shakib Al Hasan, wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, and opening batsman Tamim Iqbal, who all appeared in the 2007 World Cup. The allrounder Mahmudullah, who also made his debut in 2007, rounds out their nation's top five players with the most ODI appearances, almost 1,000 in total.

They came to England quietly confident that this was their best chance yet of going far.

After an impressive opening win over South Africa, however, Bangladesh fell short against New Zealand by two wickets and was hammered by England by 106 runs. With a 1-2 record, Bangladesh needs to get back on track quickly. And Sri Lanka is ripe for plucking.

The 1996 champions have been unconvincing so far in losing to New Zealand and beating Afghanistan. Sri Lanka got a point from a washout against Pakistan in Bristol last Friday.

"If we had won against New Zealand or England, it would be a lot easier (to consider the semifinals)," Mashrafe said. "The calculation now is a lot more difficult. It's still very much possible. We have to make sure we get back on the winning track."

He also downplayed his own contribution so far. The medium-pacer has taken 1-149 in 21 overs over three matches, the least wickets among the team's six bowlers.

Mashrafe said the pitches have been slow, and he's been focused on being captain, and trying to capitalize on whichever bowler is hot. Mosaddek Hossain was playing better in the first two matches, and Mashrafe said he bowled better last time out against England. "I was doing my job," he said.

His job looks set to be weather watcher on Tuesday. The forecast in Bristol is for rain showers all day.


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