Bangladesh will be desperately seeking a victory over Pakistan in their final World Cup game, their first One-Day International at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s.
Besides the hope for an end to the campaign on a high, the Tigers are looking forward to a fitting send-off for their Captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, for whom it will be the final game on the world stage on Friday.
"A few of the (Bangladesh players) went straight out onto the dressing room balcony and looked at the marvellous scene in front of them with a beautiful carpet of grass and big stands everywhere,” Head Coach Steve Rhodes said at the pre-match press conference on Thursday.
“And they were taking it all in," the Englishman added, speaking about the excitement of the younger players coming to Lord's for the first time.
Only six of the 15-man squad had played at Lord’s, but Tests, and long ago.
Bangladesh are already out of the race for a spot in the semifinals after the defeat to India in a virtual quarterfinal match last Tuesday. But a win against Pakistan will make the Tigers the top among those who have failed to make it to the top four.
“So we’re looking to obviously win. We want to win. We’ve practised well today. We’ve come up with some good plans,” Rhodes said.
Having been defeated by Bangladesh in their past four meetings, Pakistan are now placed fifth on the table this World Cup, behind New Zealand who occupy the fourth and final knockout berth.
The 1992 champions face a near impossible task to qualify for the semifinals: to bat first against Bangladesh and win by a margin of at least 316 runs to jump ahead of the Kiwis on net run rate.
Rhodes, however, is not ready to call it a match of formalities as Pakistan are also seeking at least a win to avenge the end of their unbeaten run by Bangladesh in the 1999 World Cup and a happy ending this time, bdnews24.com reports.
"Bangladesh versus Pakistan at the beautiful Lord's, there's no such thing as a dead rubber. Both teams are desperate to beat each other. We certainly are," he said.
Pakistan Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed admitted it will be very difficult to beat Bangladesh by a margin of 316 runs, but added that the mathematical equations will not hold them back.
"I don't know what the study is behind this, but I can't do anything... definitely, we're interested in finishing on a high note. So we will try our best in tomorrow's match," he said.
"If you talk about the previous matches, yes, Pakistan lost four, but it is a World Cup match. Both teams look stronger, so hopefully we will do well as a team," Sarfaraz added.
Rhodes said it will be the last World Cup game for Mashrafe and the skipper and the Tigers will have to move on if he is not available for the proposed Sri Lanka tour in August.
"I often use the word warrior, but he goes to war for the team and people respect that, understand that, and they love him because of that,” the coach said about Mashrafe, who was elected a member of parliament six months ago.
"The players in the dressing room do love Mash. He has said it's his last World Cup and it'll be emotional for him," Rhodes said.
"If he's not in Sri Lanka, then we move on. Bangladesh has to move on eventually without Mash, and whether it's after this tournament or whether it's in a year's time, at some stage Bangladesh has to move on, like all the great countries in international cricket,” he said, admitting that it will be a difficult void to fill.
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