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A minor battle for survival

Ireland and Bangladesh had sent Pakistan and India packing from the Cup in 2007, bringing an early end to spectator and sponsor interest in the Caribbeans. Nilankur Das writes.

india Updated: Feb 25, 2011 00:45 IST
Nilankur Das

The two teams that face off at the Sher-e Bangla stadium on Friday had played a key role in forcing the International Cricket Council to change the format of this World Cup. Ireland and Bangladesh had sent Pakistan and India packing from the Cup in 2007, bringing an early end to spectator and sponsor interest in the Caribbeans.

Ireland have seen a sea change in their cricket ever since, the most significant being how their motley bunch of electricians, farmers, teachers and garment sellers are now mostly professional cricketers earning their keep mainly in the English county teams. And as veteran medium-pacer Trent Johnston puts it, they are here 'to create more history.'

Do or die
It's make-or-break for Bangladesh, virtually the first do-or-die match of the tournament. Having lost to India, the hosts need to win this. A win here and against the Dutch could see them through to the quarters. A loss would mean Bangladesh would have to beat either South Africa or England, something that might well be beyond Jamie Siddons' boys.

Feeling let down by his medium-pacers against India, skipper Shakib Al Hasan could be tempted to play just one seamer on Friday, and begin the bowling with Rubel Hossain and left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak.

Ashraful back?
The batting line-up too could be shuffled. Mohammad Ashraful could come in at No 7 in place of Naeem Islam and left-arm spinner Shorawadi Shuvo in place of an injured medium-pacer Shafiul Islam.

For Ireland the batting lineup is more or less set and coach Phil Simmons and skipper William Porterfield need to sort out the bowling combination. Left-arm spinner, 18-year-old George Dockrell, will have a crucial role to play given the conditions.

The Dutch show against England has taken a lot of pressure off the Irish. They don't have to come on to the field as if the honour of the Associates depends on them.