ANI Photo | Best chance for Bangladesh to make it to last four in World Cup: Athar Ali Khan

Athar Ali Khan, a former Bangladesh cricketer and now a commentator,  has expressed confidence that his country’s team will surprise a few teams and make the last four of the World Cup.
“This is the best chance for Bangladesh to make the last four. When I say this to you I say it with a lot of conviction and not just for the sake of saying it. When I look at our team, I know what I am saying. There is a very good blend of experience and youth and unlike in the past when we just had very good spinners, we also have fast bowlers who can do the job. The batting is solid and in Shakib, the skipper, we have the world’s best all-rounder for Indian conditions. When you add IPL experience to this, Shakib has played in the IPL for years, Mustafizur plays regularly in the IPL you know we have the team to do well in these conditions,” Athar Ali Khan told Revsportz on ‘Backstage With Boria’
“Also, unlike in the T-20 format where we are still improving, the 50-over format is the best suited for Bangladesh. It is in this format that we have the best record. So I will not be surprised if you see Bangladesh beating a number of top teams and making the semi-finals,” he added.
He said with Shakib as skipper, Bangladesh will be able to handle pressure better.
“Shakib as skipper has always played with pressure and his record speaks for him. He has achieved success in every part of the world. When you look at the team you know they now know how to win. In Litton Das and Najmul Shanto we have an excellent mix of experience and youth and then we have Naim and Tanzid. One hopes that Tamim will be fit for the World Cup. If he makes the cut, he is always a welcome addition at the top of the order. If he is unable to make it, there is enough firepower at the top to give the team a brisk start. Tauhid Hridoy too is someone I have great hopes from and he has had a fantastic start to his career. Then we have the experience of Shakib and Mushfiqur. Each one of these players have played and delivered under pressure and I repeat what I said, I am hoping for Bangladesh to make the last four,”
Athar Ali Khan feels that the passionate Bangladesh fans are the real strength of the team. “Fans are the strength of the Bangladesh team. And these fans are there in good and bad. It is not as if they will abandon the team if there are a few bad results. That’s what helps. You mentioned 12,000 people. Thirty thousand people would come if they had tickets. While I hope the maximum number of people get access to tickets and are able to fulfil their dreams of coming over and supporting the team, there will always be fans who miss out. But the best part if they won’t mind, they will be outside the stadium and still extend their support to the team. That is the beauty of fandom,” he added.
He said this World Cup could well be the swan song in this format for players like Shakib or Mushfiqur who have done so much for Bangladesh cricket.
“Maybe one more World Cup who knows. But it could be they won’t play a 50-over World Cup again. All of 170 million Bangladeshis will want them to do well. It is for them that these fans will travel and shout and pray. It is a very special occasion.”
Calling India the favourites, he wondered why the Indian media is so harsh on the players at times.
“Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill at the top of the order is a dream opening pair. Both are match winners. And then you have the champion in Virat Kohli. If you just see the way Kohli runs between wickets, you know why he is special. Every youngster should take lessons from him in self-discipline and fitness. He has achieved everything and yet is hungry. That’s the hallmark of a true great. Each one of us will agree he went through a rough patch. But then he has come back stronger. That’s what matters isn’t it. To the entire cricket world Virat Kohli has given an abundance of joy and that’s why I say he is a class act. A real class act.”
“In the middle order, it will be a big boost for India if KL Rahul is fit. Then you have Hardik and Jadeja, two very good all-rounders who can walk into any team. And the bowling with Shami, Siraj, Bumrah and Kuldeep looks stellar. A fit Jasprit Bumrah could be a massive addition for India. It means your death bowling is sorted and with Shami, you will always have a chance of picking wickets at the start of an innings. Kuldeep looks a very good bowler. Mentally he seems stronger and is very much in control of his game. So in every sense India is the team to beat at home. Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma will know it and I think all you need to do is support the team and not exert undue pressure and be critical of the players, ” Athar Ali added
He also picked his four semi-finalists.
“I have already told you about Bangladesh. India will surely make it. Australia too has a very good team. They have quality all-rounders and some very good fast bowlers. And in batting, they bat deep and have powerful strikers. These are the three teams I will pick and then it could be either Pakistan or England”, he concluded. (ANI)

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