Feb 052016
Under-19 World Cup 2016 February 5, 2016

Mehedi Hasan - "Zakir told me that we will just play on singles, rotate the strike. We won't go for fours or sixes. His words worked quite well for us" © ICC

When Bangladesh Under-19's captain Mehedi Hasan and wicketkeeper-batsman Zakir Hasan came together in the 29th over against Nepal Under-19, it was amidst much tension in Mirpur. The home side were 98 for 4 chasing 212 with a place in the semi-final on the line. Thankfully for Bangladesh, the pair did not panic and took the game away with their 117-run unbroken stand.

The partnership was not completely smooth-sailing; only after the pair had batted together for 13 balls did Mehedi smash one through the in-field and get his first boundary. Singles were not missed at any opportunity, but the run-rate kept rising, and by the time the next four came, at the start of the 35th over, Bangladesh needed 86 off 15.5 overs. For the next 7.2 overs, Mehedi and Zakir only picked singles and twos. Finally, in the middle of the 43rd over, Zakir's swept four off Dipendra Airee gave Bangladesh a release.

From the 42nd to 45th over, the pair took six, eight, 12 and 10 runs, which reduced the target from 63 needed off 54, to 27 needed off the last 30 balls. In one instance, they ran three and then took twos off the next two balls before taking a relaxed single. This was in the same over in which Mehedi lofted Sandeep Lamichhane over extra-cover for a boundary. Some of the pair's running between the wickets looked risky but their overall maturity proved much of it was calculated.

Mehedi said that it was Zakir who came up with the calming influence by giving him a plan and then chiding him when the Nepal captain Raju Rijal missed his stumping in the 38th over.

"He [Zakir] was unbelievable today," Mehedi said. "He got back to runs after a long time with this fine innings. It was great timing for the team, as we really needed him today. There was some pressure when we started our partnership. Zakir told me that we will just play on singles, rotate the strike. We won't go for fours or sixes. His words worked quite well for us.

"When the stumping incident happened, I had lost a bit of focus at that moment. The mid-off was up so I tried to hit it over him. When I had settled down after the miss, Zakir told me it is no time to relax. 'We have to bat long,' he said. I was fine from that point."

The fifth-wicket partnership was also the coming together of two young men who made it to professional cricket through contrasting circumstances, about 480km apart. When he was growing up in Khulna and falling in love with the game, Mehedi's father opposed the idea of his son taking up cricket seriously. But Mehedi would sneak out to play matches, and often get caught. However, after winning an award for Best Batsman in an Under-14 tournament, it became easier for Mehedi to convince his father that cricket was where his passion really lied.

It was different for Zakir while growing up in Sylhet. Although there was some pressure on him to take studies more seriously, his elder brother brought news that BKSP were holding a trial nearby. Zakir was selected for the sport institute's branch in Dinajpur, about 568km from his hometown.

Mehedi and Zakir came together for the Under-19 national camp during the 2014 World Cup, and are one of five players to play a second World Cup. But despite spending the last three years together in training camps, hotels and cricket grounds, their understanding frayed at times during their fifth-wicket partnership. Nerves were evident from the beginning as the non-striker, whether it was Mehedi or Zakir, continued to get too far out of his crease even when a single was not on offer.

There were plenty of close calls as Nepal missed the stumps on at least five occasions with the batsman short of his crease. Mehedi offered an explanation, suggesting that his team was not accustomed to the dimensions of the Shere Bangla National Stadium

"The ground is slightly different, sometimes we didn't understand where the ball was. Say, when we defended the ball we couldn't at times tell if it went into the gap or not. The ground is quite large too. But we have good understanding, and there can be one or two mistakes. I don't think it is a major problem," he said.

Mehedi and Zakir were possibly confused by the pronounced slope in Mirpur, which sometimes makes the ball hard to spot when it goes 15-20 yards from the pitch on either side. No matter, they have to get used to this ground quickly for the semi-final against either Pakistan or West Indies, on February 11.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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Feb 052016
Zakir, Mehedi fifties guide Bangladesh U-19s to semi-finals
Under-19 World Cup 2016 February 5, 2016

ESPNcricinfo staff

Karim Janat smashed a 132-ball 156 to propel Afghanistan Under-19s to a massive 226-run victory against Fiji Under-19s in the ninth-place playoff in Cox’s Bazar. After being inserted to bat, Afghanistan piled on 340 for 9 and then bowled out Fiji for 114 in the 32nd over. Perwez Malakzai (74 off 69) combined with Janat to add 130 in a fourth-wicket stand to rescue Afghanistan from 47 for 3.

The middle and lower order all contributed with handy cameos to help add 73 in the last 44 balls. Peni Wuniwaqa picked up three 3 for 41 and T Veitacini claimed two scalps.

Fiji were never really in the chase after losing Delaimatuku Maraiwai off the first ball of the innings. They were soon reduced to 18 for 5 before Malakai Cokovaki (25) and Josaia Baleicikoibia (29) shared a 50-run stand. Another clump of wickets soon fell and Fiji were bundled out. Nijat Masood returned figures of 6-1-6-3, while Rashid Khan claimed 3 for 16.

A collective bowling effort, led by Jeremy Ives, followed by a fifty from opener Shaun Snyder helped Zimbabwe Under-19s seal a comfortable win against Canada Under-19s in the ninth pace play-off quarter-final.

After having opted to bat, Canada were quickly reduced to 21 for 2 and then 56 for 3. Harsh Thaker (23), Amish Taploo (37), Abraash Khan (32), Arslan Khan (31) all got starts in the middle order, but gave it away. Slow left-arm spinning allrounder Ives was the pick of the bowlers for Zimbabwe with figures of 3 for 30. The lower order also struggled for momentum as Canada crawled to 186 for 8.

Ives starred with the bat as well, making an unbeaten 43 off 55 balls to steer his side home. It came after a strong opening partnership of 89 between Snyder and Wesley Madhevere. While Madhevere was dismissed for 31, Snyder went onto stroke his second successive half-century. Ives and William Mashinge added 46 together to ensure that the chase was completed in 31.4 overs with six wickets in hand.

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Feb 032016
Bangladesh recall Mithun for World T20
World T20 2016 February 3, 2016

Bangladesh have recalled Nasir Hossain and Mohammad Mithun to the 15-man squad for the World T20, which starts from March 8 in India. Neither player was part of the four-match T20 series against Zimbabwe. Mithun last played a T20 international for Bangladesh in August 2014.

Bangladesh are placed in Group A in the first round of the World T20, alongside Netherlands, Ireland and Oman. They will begin their campaign against Netherlands on March 9 in Dharamsala.

Bangladesh World T20 squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Arafat Sunny, Abu Hider, Nurul Hasan

More to follow

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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Feb 022016
Eoin Morgan says West Indies should be 'embarrassed' for Mankad run out of Zimbabwe in under-19s World Cup

Television replays showed Ngarava was only fractionally out of his ground and the West Indies players celebrated wildly when the out decision was shown on the big screen. The West Indies captain, Shimron Hetmyer, admitted after the game the incident was “probably not” in the spirit of the game but was unrepentant. “Cricket is a game of uncertainties, we’ve seen it happen in cricket before, it’s not a big deal for us.”

There was widespread criticism from former and current players. Morgan tweeted: “Disgraceful behaviour in the U19CWC. WI’s should be embarrassed!!.”

He was joined in his criticism by England colleague Jos Buttler who was himself mankaded in a one-day game against Sri Lanka in 2014. “Can’t believe what I’ve just seen! Embarrassing!,” he said on social media.

Australia coach Darren Lehmann said: “Unbelievable , Not out.”

Mankading is one of cricket’s biggest taboos and is a rare event. When it happens it leads to a lot of animosity and it strained relations between England and Sri Lanka when Sachithra Senanayake ran out Buttler at Lord’s. Alastair Cook, then one-day captain, accused Sri Lanka of “crossing the line”.

It is normal for the bowling team to warn a batsman if they feel he is trying to steal ground by backing up too far and Buttler was told two overs previously he would be run out if he left his ground again.

It is not known if the ZImbabwe team were warned by West Indies. “I have debriefed the boys in the dressing room and they were all crying,” said Stephen Mangongo, the Zimbabwe coach. “We have explained that technically the run-out is legal. We left it to the last man and we should not have done that. It was a hard lesson and they have learnt it the hard way.”

Feb 022016
Huge win for Bangladesh; West Indies sneak through
Under-19 World Cup 2016 February 2, 2016

ESPNcricinfo staff

File photo – Mehedi Hasan Miraz claimed 2 for 12 in 7.5 overs © PTI

Bangladesh Under-19s‘ spin trio of Saleh Ahmed Shawon (2 for 10), Mehedi Hasan Miraz (2 for 12) and Ariful Islam (2 for 9) helped dismiss Namibia U-19s for a paltry 65, after which Joyraz Sheik (34*) took the hosts home to seal an easy eight-wicket win in Cox’s Bazar.

Put in to bat, Namibia’s innings never gained momentum as they lost half their side for 51 by the 21st over. Niko Davin (19) and Lohan Louwrens (17) were the only Namibia batsmen to make double-digit scores, as none of the other batsmen managed more than five runs.

After dismissing Namibia in 32.5 overs, Bangladesh faltered early in their chase, losing both openers by the fifth over for 13 runs. Joyraz then came in and took charge of the innings with a patient knock. Joyraz and Nazmul Hossain Shanto, ensured no other Bangladesh wickets fell, finishing the chase in 16 overs.

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Feb 022016
Namibia coach optimistic despite big defeat
Under-19 World Cup 2016 February 2, 2016

Namibia Under-19 have had a memorable tournament so far, including victory against defending champions South Africa © ICC

Namibia Under-19s may have slumped to an eight-wicket defeat, but Norbert Manyande, the team’s coach, was happy that Bangladesh Under-19 took his side seriously. Manyande claimed that the grass had been shaved off from the pitch at the Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium in order to counter Namibia’s pace attack.

“Bangladesh knew our seam bowling is very good for the way we bowled against South Africa and against Scotland as well,” Manyande said. “We have been here [in Cox's Bazar] for two weeks and have played in this venue once and today was the first time I saw the pitch without grass. So we definitely gave them something to think about. Whether people will accept that or not, that’s up to them.

“Once we give a Test side to think of something like that then we know that we are here not to mess around, we are here to play cricket. And they did their homework, they are the home side and the won the game. There is no doubt that they played really well and we learned a lot out of it as well.”

Manyande felt Namibia now go into the quarter-final against India having learned more about playing spin, though they were shot out for 65 in 32.5 overs against Bangladesh.

“Moving forward, I don’t think we are going to face any spin attack as good as Bangladesh, as far as we have seen so far. So moving forward we are quite confident that we will still be able to win one or two games and surprise someone again.

“We are here to compete. We have learned a lot from spin bowling from the Bangladesh game. In the next game we are looking to improve a lot more facing the spin bowling.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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Feb 022016
Shoulder injury rules Mustafizur out of PSL
Bangladesh news February 2, 2016

Mustafizur Rahman had picked up a shoulder injury during Bangladesh’s second T20I against Zimbabwe in Khulna © Associated Press

The BCB has said that a shoulder injury Mustafizur Rahman picked up during Bangladesh’s second T20I against Zimbabwe in Khulna is preventing the seamer from playing for Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League, which begins on February 4 in the UAE.

Mustafizur was picked in the PSL draft and would have been paid $50,000, but the BCB suggested they were not keen on granting him a no-objection certificate, soon after which Mustafizur was injured.

BCB’s media committee chairman Jalal Yunus said they hoped Mustafizur would be fit by the time the Asia Cup begins on February 24 and that Bangladesh players would be picked in the IPL auction on February 6.

“Mustafizur is still about two weeks away from getting fit so we are hopeful that he can be ready for the Asia Cup T20s,” Yunus said. “We want him to be fit for the two major T20 tournaments coming up which includes the World T20. It is not the BCB’s policy not to allow a player to go to a domestic T20 competition.

“Tamim [Iqbal], Shakib [Al Hasan] and Mushfiqur [Rahim] are all supposed to be flying off to the UAE tonight [Tuesday night] to play in the PSL. Five Bangladesh players are in the IPL auction. If they get picked and are fit at the time, they will play in the IPL. BCB have no issues with such things.”

Mustafizur’s inability to go to the PSL would be discussed in the next BCB meeting, when they will decide whether he will be compensated for his loss of earnings. “We must look to compensate him,” Yunus said. “We are considering this, so that he doesn’t have a major monetary loss.”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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Feb 012016
Prankster Shawon unfazed by big stage
Under-19 World Cup 2016 February 1, 2016

Saleh Ahmed Shawon is fidgety, unlike the mostly calm Nazmul Hossain Shanto or the bright-eyed Bangladesh Under-19s captain Mehedi Hasan Miraz. The left-arm spinner is the Bangladesh team’s prankster, making wisecracks and keeping everyone cheerful, while at times, by his own admission, being the victim of his team-mates’ pranks. Despite his antics, Shawon has been the team’s leading wicket-taker since January last year, with 53 dismissals at 16.01 in 30 matches.

He doesn’t look at one person for too long and his hands are constantly fidgeting, but he did stand still for the duration of the press briefing. The bowler has also started to like the big stage, and draws motivation from the crowd cheering his name.

“I always try to keep my team-mates amused, I joke around, especially when I see someone down,” Shawon said. “I try to poke him, ask him what’s wrong. And they, too, have fun at my expense. I also find a lot of motivation playing in front of a crowd where they are calling out my name and cheering us. Maybe some people take it as pressure, but I like it.”

While bowling, he has the run-up of a front-on bowler but slides into a side-on action and flights the ball consistently. He has set himself a target of finishing as one of the leading wicket-takers in this tournament, although he admitted his primary job was to keep the runs down.

“In team meetings, we have been told to keep the runs in check,” he said. “I don’t go for wickets. I just want to keep it to 20-25 in my ten overs. [Getting a] Wicket is a matter of luck. We think that our bowling attack can defend a score like 240, which will be hard for any opponent in any condition.

“My target is to be among the top five wicket-takers in the tournament, or if possible the highest wicket-taker.”

Shawon stated that in a bid to keep the players under less pressure, the team management had told them to approach the World Cup as a set of two three-match series’. Personally, though, he doesn’t seem too nervous about the big stage.

“We are looking at it as a series, not a World Cup. We shouldn’t be tensed about playing a World Cup, that’s what our captain and vice-captain have told us ahead of the tournament,” he said. “We have divided it into two three-match series. So we have the three matches in the group stage, and three in the knockout. If we can win six, we can win the World Cup.

“It is not really possible to think this way but it is about believing it yourself, you get what I’m saying?”

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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Jan 282016
Experience of playing South Africa in the past helped - Shanto
Under-19 World Cup 2016 January 27, 2016

“We didn’t want to think of this as a World Cup game and get overawed by the occasion.” © ICC

There is a bit of fire about Liam Smith. Perhaps it was the pent up adrenaline after completing his first hundred at the under-19 level, or maybe even cramps on his leg that was bothering him. Or it just could be that South Africa’s 43-run loss to Bangladesh was hurting him even more.

Standing few meters away from Smith was Nazmul Hossain Shanto, whose sparkling 73 set up Bangladesh’s win. He wasn’t beaming, but his body language had a mild strut to it. Upright, almost cocksure.

Smith wasn’t exactly seething, but it was evident that the loss didn’t sit right with him, like it didn’t with Tony de Zorzi, the captain, and the rest of his team.

It was a challenging day for the defending champions, and Smith played well throughout his nearly three-hour stay. His suppleness at the crease caught the eye, considering a lot of the cricket he’s played in his flourishing career has come on surfaces with more pace and bounce.

He was good at using the depth of the crease and on occasions looked to dominate during his 146-ball innings that had nine fours and a six. Forty-seven singles and two twos punctuated his effort which could have been a match-winning effort had there been a couple of big partnerships.

Smith was left to mostly play the anchor role before trying to up the ante at the end, but his innings was cut short courtesy a brilliant catch at cover by his counterpart Mehedi Hasan. Smith said the weather conditions were a bit challenging, even as he seemed to have worked out Bangladesh’s bowling quite well.

“It is extremely hot,” Smith told ESPNcricinfo. “You do get tired quite quickly. The bowlers are playing at their home ground so they know how to bowl here, so it was quite difficult. We played against Bangladesh before (the two teams played two seven-match series in 2015), so we were well prepared. However, he was left to rue the lack of partnerships.

“Only one of their bowlers has changed and we knew the pitches when practicing here. We did try [to build partnerships] so I can’t blame us. We would have won the game if we built bigger partnerships.”

For Bangladesh, who displayed tremendous energy on the field and were on cruise control with the bat, this had been a highly anticipated game. Shanto, who was also part of the 2014 Under-19 World Cup squad, said he urged the rest of his teammates to not get overawed by the occasion. After all, they had beaten the same opponent in 11 out of 14 games last year.

“There was a bit of nervousness today because we have some new guys in the team,” he said. “But at training yesterday and before we took the field, the only thing we talked about was to play our normal game. We can’t think of it as a World Cup game.

“The experience of playing against them helped us. We knew where they would bowl and the strength of their batsmen. The wicket was for a 240-250 score batting first. The ball did stop a bit and scoring runs freely wasn’t easy but I think my own experience at this level helped me today. I knew what to do in this situation,” he said.

Shanto said that he initially tried to base his innings on ones and twos, but didn’t hesitate to put the ball balls away. He struck four boundaries and three sixes in all during his 82-ball innings. “My first thought was to rotate the strike and only latch on to the bad balls,” he explained. “When we lost a couple of wickets, I thought I wouldn’t go for the shots but go ahead with singles. But it was hard to pick singles because the wicket was stopping a bit and they were fielding very well.”

Bangladesh’s technical advisor Stuart Law said while Shanto stuck to the task expected of him, it would have been better if one of him, Pinak Ghosh and Joyraz Sheik carried on to make a big score. “This is Shanto’s job. He has instructions to bat through. He took his time but once he got in, he played some beautiful shots,” Law said. “It was disappointing that one or two others weren’t able to push on and get a really big score. We thought 241 would be tough to get if we bowled well.

“I think South Africa bowled and fielded well to restrict us to 240. Their cover and midwicket cut off a lot of runs. I think we did what we could. We saw Smith get a 100. If we get one of our top-order to do that, we will get close to 300 runs.”

It would be easy to think that Smith’s 100 went in vain but he hardly had anyone supporting him. Shanto however had Sheik and Mehedi at the other end making sure he didn’t have to do all the running.

It was ultimately the difference in outcome between two splendid batting efforts.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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Jan 272016
India-Bangladesh clash to kick off Asia Cup
Asia Cup 2016 January 27, 2016

ESPNcricinfo staff

India and Bangladesh will kick off this year’s edition of the Asia Cup © AFP

India and Bangladesh will kick-off the main round of the Asia Cup on February 24, but the weekend clashes may garner more attention. India and Pakistan play each other the following Saturday and hosts Bangladesh takes on Sri Lanka, the current title holders, on Sunday. The tournament will be played in Twenty20 format for the first time and all 11 matches including the final will be played at Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.

Asia Cup Schedule

Feb 24 India v Bangladesh

Feb 25 Sri Lanka v TBD

Feb 26 Bangladesh v TBD

Feb 27 India v Pakistan

Feb 28 Bangladesh v Sri Lanka

Feb 29 Pakistan v TBD

Mar 1 India v Sri Lanka

Mar 2 Bangladesh v Pakistan

Mar 3 India v TBD

Mar 4 Pakistan v Sri Lanka

Mar 6 Final

India and Pakistan, who last met on the cricket field at the World Cup in 2015, are now set to play each other twice in three weeks: after their February 27 match in the Asia Cup, they have a World T20 match on March 19. It could be thrice in three weeks if both teams compete against each other in the final of the Asia Cup on March 6.

While the tournament was played in an ODI format, Sri Lanka have been the most prolific team in the tournament’s history. They have won 34 of 48 matches played and took the trophy home five times.

Besides the four major nations, Afghanistan, Oman, Hong Kong and UAE will be playing a qualifying tournament that starts on February 19. Each team will play three matches and the one that finishes on top will advance to the main event. In case two teams finish with the same points, their net run rates will be used as tiebreaker.

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