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Knockouts in mind as West Indies, Bangladesh face off

Mirpur: West Indies and Bangladesh will have their eyes firmly trained on quarterfinal berths when the two sides meet in a must-win group B match of the cricket World Cup.

The group, which also features India, England and South Africa, has been thrown wide open after Ireland rode on Kevin O`Brien`s fastest World Cup century to stun their more fancied neighbours and the three-time finalists in Bangalore last night.

Despite managing just two points from as many games, both teams seemed relaxed ahead of the big clash at the Sher-e- Bangla Stadium.

Bangladesh are banking on familiar conditions and the stadium, expected to be packed to the rafters, will be behind the home side, but the Caribbean outfit cannot be taken lightly after the massive win over the Netherlands in their last match.

Bangladesh, also the co-hosts of the tournament, started on a sour note, losing to India by 87 runs, but brought their campaign back on track with a 27-run win over Ireland.

Mindful of the expectations of the home crowd, frontline spinner Abdur Razzak, however, tried to play down the hype, saying that his team is only focused on the match and not thinking about victory or defeat.

"We have practiced very well, the boys are confident of doing well against West Indies," Razzak told reporters.

"Every match is a big match for us in the World Cup," he added. "We are giving equal importance to all matches, no matter whether we face Netherlands or England."

The wicket here did not prove to be conducive for spinners in the home side`s first two games, but Razzak is confident the strip for tomorrow`s game would assist the slow bowlers.

"It did not happen in the first two matches, but I think this one will help us," the left-arm spinner said.

"It will give us a good chance to defeat the West Indies."

Razzak gave enough indications that the home side`s attack would be spin-oriented, something they are banking on to overcome the West Indies.

He said Bangladesh would try to make "best use of powerplays and keep wickets intact" to put pressure on the two-time champions.

Statistics give Bangladesh the edge as they beat the West Indies 3-0 when the two sides last met in 2009. But that hardly holds any significance as West Indies fielded a second-string team following a financial spat between leading players and their cricket board.

The challenge for the visitors, who lost to South Africa in their opener before beating the Netherlands, could lie in tackling the spinners in unfamiliar territory, but team manager Richie Richardson said the side is up for it.

"Every match is a challenge Everyone is going to be difficult, playing against Bangladesh in Bangladesh will be tough," said the former West Indies captain under whom West Indies qualified for the semi-finals of the 1996 World Cup, the last time the event was held in the sub-continent.

"But we have the ability, (and are) certainly very confident that we can beat Bangladesh," Richardson added.

The 215-run victory over the Dutch is reason for the newfound belief and confidence in the team.

"I think we are in a pretty good shape. The last win obviously gave us a confidence booster. We are ready to tackle any opposition, any spin attack, any pace attack, any team. We are prepared to take them on," he said.

The West Indies are below Bangladesh in the ICC rankings, but Richardson seemed unfazed.

"It`s a competition where it is possible for anybody who plays well consistently to win, so it doesn`t matter," he said.

"It`s how well you play in the tournament, that will make the difference. It`s always difficult playing against a home team. Obviously they know the conditions really well, and they have the home support. But we have beaten people all over the world, so we are not worried about that."

Teams (from):

West Indies: Darren Sammy (capt), Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Darren Bravo, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kieron Pollard, Devon Thomas, Sulieman Benn, Nikita Miller, Kemar Roach, Kirk Edwards, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Devendra Bishoo.

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

Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena (SRI) and Steve Davis (AUS)

PTI

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