Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe seek to rebuild in tri-nation clash

Sri Lankan cricketer Upul Tharanga, right, and his teammates take part in a religious observance before leaving for Bangladesh, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, Jan. 12, 2018. Sri Lanka will participate in the tri-nation limited overs cricket series with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe starting Jan. 15. (AP)
Updated 14 January 2018
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Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe seek to rebuild in tri-nation clash

DHAKA: Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe all have a point to prove when they battle each other in a tri-nation one-day tournament in Dhaka from Monday.
The home nation, without a coach, are licking their wounds from a disastrous tour of South Africa. Sri Lanka have just had their worst year in international cricket. And Zimbabwe are on edge after a thrashing by the Proteas that blunted their run-up to a crucial World Cup qualifying tournament in March.
The event, staged at Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, is Bangladesh’s first home engagement in more than a year, and follows three heavy ODI defeats in South Africa in October.
Bangladesh have become a strong one-day team in recent times, notably reaching the Champions Trophy semifinals last year. But they were brutally exposed by the Proteas, as defeats by 10 wickets, 104 runs and 200 runs highlighted how much further they have to go.
“This tri-nation tournament is really important for us. Everyone is upset after the South Africa tour. Now, if we can win this tournament, everything can be changed,” said skipper Mashrafe Mortaza.
The task has been made more difficult by the resignation of coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who chose to return to his native Sri Lanka. Hathurusingha makes his debut as Sri Lanka’s coach in this tournament.
The 49-year-old former batsman resigned in the middle of the South Africa tour, though the decision was only made public in December.
Former national captain Khaled Mahmud is in interim charge as team director, and the Bangladesh Cricket Board has yet to indicate when a permanent replacement will be named.
Hathurusingha travels to Bangladesh with his own problems, as his new team come out of a demoralizing year.
Former World Cup winners Sri Lanka won only five of 29 one-day internationals in 2017.
The country’s cricket authorities changed captain twice in six months after influential all-rounder Angelo Mathews stepped down in July, highlighting the turmoil in the national game.
Mathews has been re-appointed as Sri Lanka’s limited over captain ahead of 2019 World Cup, for which they were the final team to qualify.
Meanwhile underdogs Zimbabwe, who face Bangladesh in the first game of the tri-nation competition Monday, are looking for a lift ahead of hosting a World Cup 2019 qualifying tournament in March.
Last month they lost a Test in South Africa by an innings and 120 runs inside two days of what was intended to be a historic four-day day-night Test. The match lasted just 907 balls.
Zimbabwe will be boosted by the return of Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis, who have not played one-day internationals since 2015 and 2013 respectively.
Coach Heath Streak has indicated that Zimbabwe will devote more energy to one-day games, due to limited Test opportunities.
The three teams will play each other twice in the two-week tournament, which ends with a final on January 27.


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”