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Mashrafe unfazed by short Edgbaston boundary as Bangladesh face India

BIRMINGHAM: Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza does not share his India counterpart Virat Kohli’s concerns about the short boundary on one side at Edgbaston where the neighbours will clash in the vital World Cup match on Tuesday.

Kohli was critical of the ground dimensions after England ended India’s unbeaten campaign on a pitch which had a 59-metre boundary on one side.

“If batsmen are able to reverse sweep you for six on a 59-metre boundary there is not much you can do as a spinner,” Kohli said, defending his slow bowlers after they lost by 31 runs.

The same pitch will be used for a match which Bangladesh must win to keep their semi-final hopes alive, while a victory for Kohli’s men will secure them a place in the last four.

“It will be the same wicket and same ground for both teams,” Mashrafe told reporters on Monday. “We haven’t played any match on it. Yes, one side is pretty smaller, so batsmen will normally target that area, but I think both teams will get the same benefit here.”

India managed just one six in their innings, compared to England’s 13, which included Ben Stokes’ reverse-sweep off Yuzvendra Chahal that cleared the shorter boundary.

India’s wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Chahal bled 160 runs for just one wicket in their combined 20 overs, partly handicapped after the Indian quicks failed to get early breakthroughs.

Mashrafe said his batsmen would be cautious against the Indian spinners despite the short boundary temptation.

“I think their spinners have done a good job if you look at their stats in the last two-three years. We can’t expect to do what England did and get success.

“We need to stick to our plan and play the way we have been playing. Our batting has been very good throughout the tournament … we need to play according to our plan.”

India’s loss against England has complicated Bangladesh’s semi-final passage, leaving them with the unenviable task of beating India and Pakistan, both former champions, in their final matches to make the last four.

Mashrafe said he never favoured being at the mercy of results involving other teams anyway.

“We’ve come this far by virtue of our seven points – from three wins and a washed out match. We won because we played well in those matches,” he said. “To win tomorrow [Tuesday], we will have to play well again. In a tournament like this, it’s pointless to rely on how other teams fare.

“Of course a loss on Tuesday would mean end of our campaign, and things could have been different had India beaten England.

“I’m seeing it as a good challenge. If we can beat India You need tougher challenges to improve as a team.”

BIRMINGHAM: Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim attends a training session at Edgbaston on Monday. (Inset) Bangladesh’s star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan comes out to bat in the nets.—AFP

India, meanwhile, will persist with Rishabh Pant at number four in the batting order to avail the left-right advantage in the middle overs, assistant coach Sanjay Bangar said.

The two-time champions were left without a left-hander in the top half of their batting order after a fractured finger ended opened Shikhar Dhawan’s World Cup.

Pant was flown in as Dhawan’s replacement and the 21-year-old finally made his debut in Sunday’s loss to England, scoring 32 after some nervous running between the wickets early in his knock.

“I felt he had a decent innings,” Bangar told reporters. “He got 32 and played a couple of god shots, got a partnership going [with Hardik Pandya], so we’re going to persist with him.”

All-rounder Vijay Shankar, who was originally picked in the squad to bat at number four, has been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with a toe injury and replaced by Mayank Agarwal, the team said on Monday.

“The team management was feeling the absence of a left-hander since Shikhar got injured,” Bangar said, explaining the decision to send Pant ahead of Pandya on Sunday. “It was a ploy to use right-left combination in the middle overs to upset the bowling plans. I feel because of that Adil Rashid could not bowl the number of overs he’d have usually bowled.”

Known for his six-hitting prowess, Pant hit a century in The Oval Test last year and also smashed an unbeaten 159 against Australia in Sydney in January.

Sunday’s match was only his sixth One-day International but Bangar said the time Pant spent with the World Cup squad has prepared him for the challenges ahead.

“He’s spent close to two weeks with us now. He has done well at the international level, especially in the Test format. The one-day format is slightly newer to him,” said Bangar, who played 12 Tests and 15 ODIs for India.

“We’re trying to help him with the various mindsets and the roles that come with the middle order job, and the importance of the right-left combination… so straightaway he can put the pressure back on the spinners.

“It can help the team in a big way. On those lines, we’ve been communicating with him.”

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