Bangladesh look to shed under-performers’ tag

Mumbai: For long they have been content with an odd upset and been looked upon as underachievers unworthy of Test status, but Bangladesh would look to surpass all expectations when they kick off their World Cup campaign against co-hosts India in Dhaka on February 19.

Though their record in the quadrennial event is not all that commendable - five victories from 20 matches - the Bangla tigers can take heart from their performance in the 2007 edition when they reached the second round for the first time in three attempts - ousting India and defeating South Africa on their way.

That performance in the West Indies came after a disastrous stint in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa when they lost five of their six matches (one being abandoned), and an impressive debut in 1999, taming eventual runners-up Pakistan and fellow-associate members Scotland, that led to their immediate promotion as the 10th Test playing nation.

In their quest for creating history, Bangladesh can seek inspiration from Sri Lanka, who had won just four of their 26 matches, prior to becoming the first co-host nation to win the World Cup in 1996.

Bangladesh are placed in Group B and victories against one or two of the top four teams -- India, South Africa, England and West Indies (teams they have registered victories against in the past) -- and minnows Netherlands and Ireland may well see them reaching the second round for the second time in succession.

Bangladesh have a few good batsmen in skipper Shakib-Al-Hasan, ranked number one in the ICC’s all-rounders list, the talented Mohammad Ashraful, the pint-sized dynamic opener Tamim Iqbal and wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim.

Though they will miss the fire-power of speedster Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh, unlike a few other teams, have good tweakers in left-arm slow bowlers Shakib and Abdur Razzaq, who can get handy support from many other part-timers on surfaces that are expected to aid the slow bowlers.

The co-hosts are also high on confidence as they come into the tournament after having whitewashed the Kiwis 4-0 and defeating Zimbabwe 3-1 at home, where they will play all their six league games.

Bangladesh’s World Cup Squad: Shakib Al Hasan (C), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Shahriar Nafees, Raqibul Hasan, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Naeem Islam, Mahmudullah, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Nazmul Hossain, Suhrawadi Shuvo.

Bangladesh’s preliminary group matches: v India (Feb 19, Dhaka); v Ireland (Feb 25, Dhaka); v West Indies (Mar 4, Dhaka); v England (Mar 11, Chittagong); v Netherlands (Mar 14, Chittagong); v South Africa (Mar 19, Dhaka).