Great to be underdog: Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes


Cardiff, May 27 (IANS): Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes believes the team is well prepared going into the World Cup and they are happy with the "underdog" title.

Bangladesh didn't have an ideal start to their preparation for the World Cup as their first warm-up game against Pakistan was washed out on Sunday. They will now take on India in their second practice match on Tuesday before beginning their tournament campaign against South Africa on June 2.

"One of the things the dressing room feels is quietly confident," Rhodes told ICC. "But we are well aware that we are playing against some very good teams. We respect the opposition; we don't fear them. But what we have been trying to do is play that down a little bit, and actually it is great to be an underdog.

"Because if we can keep surprising all these big teams, everybody is going to be commenting about what is going on with Bangladesh -- 'how do they do this sort of thing; how do they keep doing this sort of thing?' If we don't get too big for our boots, then we will keep surprising, and we should handle the pressure a lot better," he added.

One of the key boosts for Bangladesh will be the availability of Shakib al Hasan, the number one all-rounder, who had missed the series against New Zealand due to a finger injury.

Shakib recovered from that injury in time for the IPL, but only got to play three matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the tournament.

In Ireland, Shakib played an important role in Bangladesh winning their first ever non-bilateral ODI tournament, scoring two unbeaten fifties and bowling economically. However, he missed the final with a side strain.

The 32-year-old is now fit again in the lead-up to the World Cup, and, according to Rhodes, the presence of the T20 captain will have a great impact on Bangladesh's campaign in England and Wales.

"When he (Shakib) doesn't play, it can cause a few issues. Not only (in) missing the best player that you have got, but also your balance of the team," said Rhodes.

The Bangladesh coach also heaped praise on Mashrafe Mortaza saying, he leads in a warrior-like fashion.

"He (Mashrafe) is very much the person at the front, very much the person that people respect. He wouldn't ask anybody to do something that he couldn't do or wouldn't try himself. If he wanted to run through the wall, they would give it a go. And I know that is a great attribute for a captain. I try and support him in some of the areas, just try and work on our relationship a lot, and it seems to work quite well," said the Bangladesh coach.

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