Dead rubber? What dead rubber? That’s the question Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes and Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed seem to be asking on the eve of their final World Cup group game at Lord’s
Net run-rate keeps Pakistan interested but if Bangladesh decide to bat first, their exit from the World Cup will be confirmed. If Pakistan bat first, they have to win by more than 300 runs to make the semi-final, which is why no-one is really giving it much thought.
Rhodes said that it is a special occasion for Bangladesh who will be playing their first ODI at Lord’s, and their first game here in nine years. A win over Pakistan would give them four wins out of eight games at the World Cup.
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“Bangladesh versus Pakistan at beautiful Lord’s, there’s no such thing as a dead rubber,” Rhodes said. “Both teams are desperate to beat each other. We certainly are. I’m pretty sure they are. They’ve got a lot to play for as well. We’re looking to obviously win. We want to win. We’ve practiced well today. We’ve come up with some good plans. When we lost against India, we were out of the tournament, but we all recognise that there’s one more game to go and one special occasion at Lord’s and a very good, tough team to beat as well. So if we can take the scalp of Pakistan in the World Cup, we’ll be very, very proud of the boys.”
“If you score 600, 500 or 400 score on a pitch then you think you can get the other team out for 50?”
Sarfaraz Ahmed lays out the impossibility of the task ahead of Pakistan
Rhodes said that given the outlandish equation in front of Pakistan, they would be the team under more pressure going into this game. “I don’t really feel the pressures of that because, you know, with Bangladesh, we’ve got the pressure of 170 million back home wanting us to win, but Pakistan can still qualify. Maybe the pressure is all on Pakistan going into this game.”
Sarfraz said that it wouldn’t prudent for Pakistan to think about net run-rate right now. “Obviously we are here to win all the matches. We will do our best to win the last game as well. We will do our best but we need to be realistic. If you score 600, 500 or 400 score on a pitch then you think you can get the other team out for 50? It will be tough but we will still give it a try.
“The target is in front of us, there are no secrets that [we have] to score 500, 550 and then win by 316-run margin. But if you look at the tournament then, realistically it is a 280-300 tournament.”
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Sarfraz said that getting beaten by Australia, when they had Aaron Finch’s men under pressure early, really broke their back, and perhaps cost them a place in the semi-final. He also said that pitches in most of their games were tough for batting, with the ball not coming on to the bat.
“The turning point was the loss against Australia. We were in a better position to win that game but lost the way in the middle overs. “And if you look at the pitches, they were not for free and open cricket, all the matches they were tough for batting, spin was there and ball was not coming on the bat.”
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Bangladesh too would rue their two-wicket loss to New Zealand, but by improving their bowling in the first 20 overs, they can hope to improve their overall performance.
“If you look back to that India game,” Rhodes said, “We didn’t turn up for those first 20 overs when we were in the field. That was a bad area for Bangladesh. We know what we want to try and do tomorrow. If we can start the game well against Pakistan, then we don’t have to play catch-up, and that’s what we did against India.
“There are some other aspects of our game we want to just obviously sustain and try and do what we did against India, which was fight hard, and we played well at times with a bat during that game as well. But that’s the main area. We want to start the game really, really well.”