Dhaka: Bangladesh is not even dreaming of winning the World Cup in South Africa, just aiming for a couple of victories to end a long run of dismal and disappointing performances.
Bangladesh, which has won just three of its 61 One-dayers, is searching for its first success since the 1999 World Cup in England after suffering a record 26 consecutive defeats. "Our prime target is to win against Kenya and Canada as we are aware of the realities," conceded Bangladesh captain Khaled Mashud. "We'll also try to win against any of the other four teams in the group. I think, on a given day, we can make things difficult for fancied sides."
Bangladesh is grouped with South Africa, the West Indies, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and non-Test playing nations Kenya and Canada in the preliminary league. The top three teams advance to the Super Six. "The dream of going to the World Cup is over because we are making our second appearance in the big event. We are also under no illusions about our chances," said Mashud. Critics say Bangladesh was too inexperienced to be granted Test status in 2000, for it had not proved its mettle even in One-dayers since making its debut in 1985-86.
Bangladesh has won only one match against a Test-playing country in more than a decade when it beat Pakistan by 62 runs in a controversial World Cup league game in England. That victory also lost much of its gloss as the Pakistani team was later accused of match-fixing before being cleared of the charges. The remaining two Bangladeshi wins came against non-Test playing nations, Kenya in a triangular match in India in 1998 and Scotland in the 1999 World Cup. Mashud is among the four survivors of the last World Cup squad, others being all- rounder Khaled Mahmud, seamer Manjural Islam and spinner Mohammad Rafique.
Bangladesh's hopes of ending a win-drought depend on a bunch of youngsters, including all-rounder Alok Kapali and seamers Tapash Baisya and Talha Jubair. All of them will be making their first appearance in the World Cup. "We have a young, but balanced squad," said Mashud, a gutsy wicket-keeper-batsman who has so far scored 659 runs with three half-centuries in 51 One-dayers. Bangladesh is looking forward to clinching the 'Clash of Minnows' with Kenya, considering their rivalry in the shorter version of the game.
Its victory over Kenya in the 1997 ICC Trophy final helped it earn the One-day status the following year. Kenya, which has applied for Test status, will also be eager to win the match as it will help its cause. "We hope to win a couple of matches and repeat the last Cup performance this time," Mashud said, referring to his team's two wins in the last edition of the tournament in England.