Islamabad, May 24 (AP/UNB) — While India is Asia's obvious contender for the World Cup title, there are four other nations from the continent which could pose problems for highly-ranked teams.
Among them, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are former World Cup winners. Bangladesh and Afghanistan are relatively new to the scene. Bangladesh has improved with every outing at the quadrennial event and has produced some big upsets already. Afghanistan is the newest of the International Cricket Council's full members and had to secure its spot at the World Cup through qualifying, beating some considerably more established teams.
Here's a look at Asia's "other" prospects:
The 1992 World Cup champions have had a scratchy run-up to the World Cup, losing 5-0 to Australia in a "home" series in the United Arab Emirates and then being routed 4-0 in England.
The nine consecutive defeats forced national selectors to make three changes to the originally announced 15-man squad, with seamer Junaid Khan, promising opening batsman Abid Ali and allrounder Faheem Ashraf all dropped after struggling in English conditions.
Experienced pacemen Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz and hard-hitting batsman Asif Ali were the late inclusions.
Ali's selection has its merit after he posted two half-centuries against England, but the two left-arm fast bowlers — Riaz and Amir — were recalled more on the basis of their experience than recent performances.
Riaz hasn't played an ODI since October 2017; Amir has taken just five wickets in the 14 ODIs he has played since Pakistan won the 2017 Champions Trophy in England.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was the national team captain back in '92 when he led his "Cornered Tigers" to victory in Melbourne, Australia. The format of this year's World Cup is the same, where every team plays each other before the top four advance to the semifinals.
Pakistan's unpredictable tag is somewhat of a positive for captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, who likes to go to the World Cup as underdogs.
Ahmed led Pakistan the Champions Trophy title two years ago when his lineup was ranked No. 8 but peaked to beat archrival India in the final.
The batting unit appears fairly settled with Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam and Haris Sohail forming a strong top order. But bowling and, more particularly fielding, could let down Pakistan in crunch games.
Pakistan reached the final the last time the World Cup was contested in England, losing to Australia in the 1999 title decider.
Off-field issues over the last two years have seen the 1996 World Cup champions change captains 10 times across cricket's three formats.
Several players and Sri Lanka Cricket officials, including World Cup winner Sanath Jayasuriya, have been suspended for not co-operating with International Cricket Council anti-corruption investigators.
The problems have had an impact on the team's performance, with Sri Lanka losing the first eight ODIs it played this year and falling far adrift of the team which reached the 2011 World Cup final.
The Sri Lankans tried plenty of combinations before settling on Dimuth Karunaratne to lead the island nation to the World Cup despite playing his last ODI four years ago.
Karunaratne has a modest record in limited-overs cricket, having played 17 ODIs and none since the 2015 World Cup, where the Sri Lankans exited in a quarterfinal loss to South Africa.
The form of veterans Angelo Mathews and Lasith Malinga will be more crucial to Sri Lanka's hopes of qualifying for the semifinals.
Bangladesh got a boost in the lead up to the World Cup by clinching a tri-series tournament in Ireland that included a stunning victory over the West Indies when Mosaddek Hossain struck five sixes in his 20-ball half century.
The Bangladesh performances have long revolved around seasoned players such as captain Mashrafe Murtaza, Shakib Al-Hasan, Musfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal. But recently the likes of Soumya Sarkar, who top-scored in the tri-series with three consecutive half centuries, have been sharing the batting burden and that's a positive for the team.
Mashrafe is a calm captain, while Shakib is a brilliant allrounder who has the capacity to peak in big matches. Bangladesh doesn't have any express pacemen and have also left out Taskin Ahmed back home.
Left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rehman's bowling lacks some penetration, which leaves Shakib and the spinners to stem the flow of runs.
They may not have the depth to reach the semifinals, but certainly do have the capacity to surprise one or two teams at the World Cup. Bangladesh's first win at a World Cup was against Pakistan in '99, and it has produced upset wins over India and South Africa in 2007 and England in 2011 and '15.
Afghanistan qualified for the World Cup ahead of more established teams Zimbabwe, Ireland and Scotland.
And while the Afghans may not win matches against stronger lineups, they gave a glimpse of their potential during last year's Asia Cup where results included a tie with India, a win over Sri Lanka and a last-over loss to Pakistan.
The change of captaincy for the World Cup didn't go well with senior players, with ace spinners Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi criticizing the Afghanistan Cricket Board on social media.
The key to Afghanistan's progression lies with the strength of its spin department, which features Rashid, Nabi and Mujeebur Rehman.
While Nabi and Mujeeb can bowl with the new ball, Rashid has the ability to take wickets in middle overs and tie down batsmen with his googlies and sharp legspinners.
Veteran Mohammad Shahzad and 21-year-old Hazratullah Zazai are the two explosive opening batsmen in their ranks.
Afghanistan's main concern will be who anchors the innings in the middle to ensure big totals.
Dhaka, May 23 (UNB)- League leaders Bashundhara Kings further consolidated their position at the summit of the 13-team Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) football, beating lowly NoFeL Sporting Club 3-1 goals at Shaheed Bulu Stadium in Noakhali on Thursday.
In other matches of the day, current champions Dhaka Abahani Limited eased past Muktijoddha Sangsad KC by 4-1 goals at Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni Stadium in Gopalganj.
With the day’s win, Kings continued their unbeaten run in the league as the lone team securing 43 points with 14 wins and one draw from 15 league matches.
On the other hand, Dhaka Abahani Limited remained second earning 36 points from 15 matches with 12 wins and three losses.
In Noakhali, Costa Rican Daniel Colindres Solera opened account for Kings netting the first goal in 41st minute (1-0).
Kyrgyz midfielder Baktyiar Duishobekov doubled the margin in 45th minute (2-0).
After the half time, Guinea striker Ismael Bangoura scored a consolation goal for NoFeL SC utilising a penalty awarded by referee in 53rd minute (2-1).
However, Brazilian striker Marcos Vinicius sealed the fate of the match for Kings adding one more goal in the 74th minute (3-1).
In Gopalganj, Ivorian forward Ballo Famoussa netted the first goal for Muktijoddha SKC (1-0) in the 14th minute.
But, Haitian striker Kervens Belfort and local star Mohammad Nabib Newaj Ziban put Dhaka Aabani ahead of hosts Muktijoddha SKC scoring two times (2-1) in span of three minutes only (27th and 30th minute).
In the second half, Mohamed Mamunul Islam netted the third goal for the Dhanmondi outfit in the 64th minute (3-1).
After then, Nigerian forward Sunday Chizoba widened the margin for Dhaka Aabani adding one more goal in the 74th minute (4-1).
The next round of BPL will be started on June 15 after Eid vacations and the round-1 matches of joint qualifications for FIFA World Cup, AFC Asian Cup, scheduled to be held on June 6 and 11.
In day’s first match at 4 pm, Dhaka Aabani to take on Rahamatgonj MFS at Bangbandhu National Stadium here while Sheikh Jamal DC will play with Team BJMC at the same venue at 7 pm.
Dhaka, May 23 (UNB) — Bangladesh cricket team on Thursday moved from the English city of Leicester to Cardiff in Wales, where they are scheduled to play two unofficial warm-up games against Pakistan and India before their main assault of the World Cup.
The Tigers will face Pakistan on May 26 at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. At the same venue, they will lock horn against old nemesis India on May 28. Right after that, the Tigers will move to London where they will start their campaign on June 2 against South Africa.
Before leaving for Cardiff, Bangladesh spent three days in Leicester. Captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and the opener Tamim Iqbal, however, missed out the practice camp.
While Mashrafe came back to Dhaka for a short break, Tamim spent three days with his family in Dubai, UAE. Both were back in the UK today.
Before leaving Dhaka on Wednesday, Mashrafe asked the supporters to keep them in prayers. The Tigers’ captain said: “The World Cup will be a different ball game. We have to set our mind to score 300, 320-330 in the World Cup.”
Mashrafe will join the team in Cardiff after the press conference of the participating nations’ captains in London, that he will attend soon after arriving back in the UK.
Bangladesh have exuded confidence going into the World Cup, winning their first-ever title in a multi-national event in Ireland, where they beat West Indies three times in the event including the final.
Dhaka, May 23 (UNB) — Appearing alongside his fellow captains at the official pre-event press conference for the captains of each team participating at this year’s World Cup, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza stated matter-of-factly that the Tigers are now capable of beating “any team in the world”.
The press conference was held Thursday in London. All ten captains were presented at the program.
“Cricket is a game in which any team can beat any opponent. A team like us can exploit the chance if they can ensure a good start to the match. We have the firm belief of beating any team in the world. However, everything depends on a good start,” Mashrafe said when he was asked about the changed mindset of the Tigers.
“We have a good bunch of cricketers. Besides the senior cricketers, we have some young lads who have been playing smart cricket at any stage. We really have a good team with the combination of young and experienced campaigners. We displayed a good brand of cricket in the last series in Ireland as well. Now, we have to start it well in the World Cup when we play the first match against South Africa,” Mashrafe also said iduring the program which was broadcast through social media.
The anchor of the program, at a point, asked Mashrafe if he gets a chance to include another player in the squad from any country who would be the pick. At this moment, Mashrafe told the name of Virat Kohli- the captain of India in the World Cup.
Asked whether he was feeling any nerves as the tournament got nearer, Mashrafe came up with a cool-headed response that showed his increased maturity once again.
“This is (playing in the World Cup) not a new affair for me. I think everyone here will say the same thing. As I said earlier, everything depends on the mental preparation. We are really excited as the World Cup is so close now. It is important for us to start well,” Bangladesh captain responded.
The latest edition of the World Cup will be Bangladesh’s sixth appearance in cricket’s showpiece event. In their first 5 appearances, Bangladesh achieved its best result in the last World Cup which took place in Australia and New Zealand, where the Tigers played the quarter-final against India. Before that, they knocked England out of the World Cup on their way to the last 8.
This time around, the Tigers are well-equipped to do more damage to the opponents. Right before the World Cup assault, the Tigers won their first winners’ trophy in a multi-national event- a tri-series in Ireland- beating West Indies in the final by five wickets. The triumph came as a big confidence booster for the Tigers, as they went unbeaten through the five games, comfortably winning 4 while one game was curtailed by rain.
Mashrafe and his men will start the World Cup journey against South Africa on June 2 at the Kennington Oval, London. The Tigers will be at the center of high expectation on the World Cup.
Dhaka, May 23 (UNB) - Bangladesh Police Football Club will play lowly Feni Soccer Club in the last league match of the Bangladesh Championship League (BCL) at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Friday.
The match will kick off at 3:30pm.
After the match, BCL champions and runners–up trophies for the season 2019 will be handed over to Bangladesh Police and Uttar Baridhara Club respectively.
The trophies of the BCL season 2017 will also be distributed to champions Bashundhara Kings and runners-up NoFeL Sporting Club on the occasion.
BFF Senior Vice-president Abdus Salam Murshedy, MP, will be the chief guest.
A total of 11 teams are taking part in the double-league BCL that began on February 10 last.