Bangladesh PM bats for cricket captain

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

DHAKA - Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has strongly defended her national team’s captain Shakib Al Hassan who lost the World Cup opening match last month after sending India to bat first.

Cricket entered the cabinet room as she dismissed criticism that Shakib, who had won the toss, should not have opted to field first.

The prime minister Monday said the decision was right.

“Who can say for sure we would have done well batting first?” she was quoted as saying by an unnamed cabinet colleague, The Daily Star said Tuesday.

Presiding over the weekly cabinet meeting, Hasina said: “They (Bangladesh cricket team) could have been bowled out for 170 to 180 runs. So, Shakib’s decision in my view was right.”

Hasina also observed that it was ‘irrational’ to say that asking India to bat was a serious mistake, the minister told the newspaper.

In the opening match at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium here Feb 19, India scored 370 runs for four wickets and Bangladesh 283 for nine in reply.

Sections of the sports community and media, among them The Daily Star, had questioned Shakib’s decision. Critics felt he had given away the advantage his side enjoyed on the home ground.

Shakib had justified his decision citing the pitch conditions and the hope that he could have put India under pressure by dismissing its top batsmen early.

Playing India is a prickly issue in Bangladesh that has emerged on the global cricketing arena. It had inflicted a surprise defeat on the larger South Asian neighbour during the last World Cup tournament, eventually leading to India being forced out of the cup’s reckoning.

Bangladesh has since done well winning a series against Zimbabwe. It also trounced the Irish team in its second encounter last week.

Indian batsman Virender Sehwag had said before the last month’s opener that it would be “a revenge match”.

Bangladesh is co-host of this year’s World Cup along with India and Sri Lanka.

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