Bangladesh’s Shakib ‘still harbours’ World Cup semi-final dream
MUMBAI, India (AFP)— Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said the Tigers “still harbour the dream” of a World Cup semi-final as they prepare to face in-form South Africa.
Bangladesh have lost three of their four World Cup games, including a seven-wicket defeat by India last time out, with the top four at the end of all-play-all phase involving the 10 competing teams going through to the knockout stages.
By contrast, South Africa go into Tuesday’s match following a 229-run thrashing of England that got their campaign back on track after a shock loss to the Netherlands.
Bangladesh, however, defeated the Proteas 2-1 in a one-day international series in South Africa last year
But Shakib, aiming to be fit to face South Africa after missing the India match with a thigh injury, told a pre-match press conference on Monday: “We have to take it one game at a time.
“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose your last game in a World Cup. What matters is who is performing better on the day.”
He added: “We saw South Africa flying high. We saw them lose to the Netherlands. They played brilliantly against England. We will try to play our best cricket and see where we are.
“We still harbour the dream (of a semi-final). Other teams are helping us also, so if we can help ourselves, it can happen. We still have the chance on paper.”
South Africa will return to the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai just days after piling up a mammoth 399-7 against England.
“It is a high-scoring ground,” said Shakib.
“Still, we are planning to restrict them for a lower total. We are taking inspiration from how the Netherlands restricted them. We have been looking at their weaknesses.”
As for his own fitness, the 36-year-old spin-bowling all-rounder, said: “If there’s no problem with running, I can play tomorrow (Tuesday). I wasn’t a hundred per cent before the India game.
“It was also important that I don’t risk the rest of the World Cup. I am in good shape now. I am pain free.”
Bangladesh’s Taskin Ahmed has, however, already been ruled out of the South Africa match, with the paceman still sidelined by a shoulder injury.
Shakib explained he was being spared from facing the Proteas to ensure his fitness for the remainder of the World Cup.
“Taskin is not available for tomorrow’s game. He will be available after tomorrow’s game,” said Shakib. “He has a shoulder issue that he has had for the last two games.
“The doctor decided a bit of rest will get him fit for the last four games. We don’t want to lose him for the tournament, as he is an important member of this side.”
This is Shakib’s fifth 50-over World Cup, with the Bangladesh star insisting his enthusiasm for the challenge was as strong as ever.
“I think it is very exciting to play my fifth World Cup. I have the same interest, ambition and fight in me to perform for Bangladesh…Hopefully I can finish this World Cup on a good note.”