ICC World Cup 2019: Bangladesh aim for semi-finals, wary of revamped format

ENGLAND : Bangladesh are aiming to break new ground at the 2019 World Cup by qualifying for the semi-finals, skipper Mashrafe Mortaza has said. They played their first World Cup knockout match at the 2015 edition, losing in the quarter-finals against India. At the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, Bangladesh pipped Australia for a semi-final place, again losing to India. Unlike previous editions, Bangladesh go into the 2019 World Cup with expectations to fulfill.

“At the moment I think going to the semi-finals will be big challenge, but nothing is impossible,” Mashrafe told news agency AFP before leaving Dhaka for England on Wednesday.

Speaking about Bangladesh’s World Cup chances and how the new format makes it difficult for them, the 35-year-old Mashrafe, a veteran of three World Cups, despite missing the 2011 edition with an injury, said, “Of course it is possible, but it will be difficult. In the past a win over one big team in the group stage might have been enough, it would have made a comeback difficult for them. But here we have nine games.”

In accordance with the round robin format of the upcoming World Cup, a format not used since the 1992 edition, all teams will play each other at least once. The implication of this format is that more consistent teams stand a better chance of making it through the semi-final stage.

“Those who are expecting to play in the semi-finals will have plenty of opportunities to come back. We have to be careful about it,” Mashrafe explained.

Bangladesh go into the World Cup on the back of some recent success as well. They failed to break new ground in the New Zealand series which ended in March, but they won the recent ODI tri-series in Ireland, beating West Indies thrice in the course of the series.

The Tigers will play two warm-up matches, versus Pakistan on Sunday and versus India on Tuesday, before beginning their World Cup campaign with a match against South Africa on May 2.