Mashrafe still aims to reach semi-finals in World Cup


Nottingham: Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza refused to write off his side’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup semi-finals despite a 48-run loss to reigning champions Australia at Trent Bridge on Thursday.

“I think still you never know,” Mashrafe told reporters. ‘I think, we have still three matches left. We have to play hard and then let’s see. And it’s going to be difficult for sure, even if we win all those three matches,’ added Mashrafe, whose side next play strugglers Afghanistan in Southampton on 24 June.

Only the top four at the end of the 10-team round-robin group phase will advance to the knockout stages and Thursday’s defeat left Bangladesh, who have beaten both South Africa and the West Indies, in fifth place. They are two points behind fourth-placed India, having already played two games more than Virat Kohli’s men. The current top four of Australia, New Zealand, England and India are starting to look uncatchable even though there are several rounds of group matches left.

“I think at this stage we thought a few matches would have been lost by the top four and the tournament would then have gone in a different way,” said Mashrafe. “But there are still a few matches left, you never know. Let’s see.”

It might have been a different story for Bangladesh in Nottingham had David Warner not been dropped off Mashrafe’s bowling on 10. The opener capitalised to score 166 in a total of 381-5 that effectively put the match beyond the reach of Bangladesh, who nevertheless responded with a gutsy 333-8 featuring Mushfiqur Rahim’s unbeaten century.

“We knew we have to pick up wickets,” added Mashrafe, the sole survivor from the Tigers’ celebrated 2005 one-day international win over Australia in Cardiff. “If not then it’s going to be very difficult, which is exactly what happened. David Warner is batting so well.”

Meanwhile, Warner said he felt just so grateful to be playing for Australia after his run-laden return continued with a World Cup hundred against Bangladesh.

Warner’s international career came to a juddering halt when he was given a 12-month ban for his part in a ball-tampering scandal during a Test against South Africa in Cape Town last year. At that stage, there was widespread speculation that Warner — widely regarded as the instigator of an event that saw Cameron Bancroft apply sandpaper to the ball — might never play for Australia again.

But having completed a year-long ban, the 32-year-old Warner has been in superb form for the reigning champions at the World Cup. The left-handed opener made Bangladesh pay for dropping him on 10 at Trent Bridge on Thursday by scoring 166 — his second century of the World Cup.

Having acknowledged it had been a dark year for Australian cricket, Warner was asked if there had been any personal benefits to his enforced break. “I feel a lot fresher. You don’t get a year off, you hardly get a couple weeks off (in international cricket). I’ve worked hard on my own fitness and taken my mind away from the game, just the little things of being on time for buses, for aeroplanes, packing your bags, travelling a lot.”