Bangla Tigers can spring a surprise: Whatmore

Published: Friday, May 6, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Dhaka:Bangladesh cricket coach Dav Whatmore predicts his young Test side could pull off a "surprise or two" during their maiden Test tour of England starting next week.

"Yes, it will be a most testing tour for Bangladesh," Whatmore told reporters Thursday ahead of his team's departure for the pathbreaking seven-week sojourn.

"The degree of difficulty is higher than other tours. But there will be a surprise or two in the series."

The celebrated 51-year-old coach said the Bangladesh team going to England was the best line-up he had under him since taking over the youngest Test nation two years ago.

"We play as hard as we can," he said. "England will really have to work hard to beat us."

Bangladesh have lost 31 of their 36 Tests, drawn four and won one since gaining Test status in 2000. Their lone Test win came against a depleted Zimbabwe at home earlier this year.

Bangladesh have won nine of their 106 one-day internationals, including a victory over Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup in England and one against India at home in December.

The South Asian nation will play two Tests at Lord's (May 26-30) and Durham (June 3-7) before taking part in a limited-overs tri-series also featuring world champions Australia from June 16 to July 2.

Whatmore, who last month renewed a two-year contract with Bangladesh, however, admitted that England in May and June would be a challenge for his side.

"In May and June the ball behaves differently. Wicket and climatic conditions will be completely different. And, in addition, England is now the second ranked Test side in the world," he said.

Bangladesh will have nine days of practice matches before the first Test begins and Whatmore said the team would have to make best use of these games to do well in the Tests.

Whatmore had high hopes for the three new faces in the 16-man squad.

"Out of the three I want to give the pacer (Shahadat Hussain Rajib) and left-handed batsman (Shariar Nafis Ahmed) every opportunity to press their claim for a position in the Test squad," the coach said.

Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar echoed his coach's optimism.

"All the players are fit and have been performing," Bashar said. "The team spirit is also higher than ever after the Test series victory against Zimbabwe in January."

Bangladesh squad: Habibul Bashar (capt), Khaled Mashud, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Ashraful, Javed Omar, Rajin Saleh, Nafees Iqbal, Aftab Ahmad Chowdhury, Shahriar Nafees Ahmed, Mohammad Rafique, Enamul Haque (Junior), Mashrafe Mortaza, Tapash Baishya, Anwar Hossain, Talha Jubair, Shahdat Hossain.

Coach: Dav Whatmore.

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