Bangladesh is keen to see how far it lags behind England — if at all — in one-day international cricket. (More Cricket News)
Their three-match series starts on Wednesday, eight months out from the Cricket World Cup in India, where England will defend the title.
Winning the series is also important to keep momentum going, Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha said, but there’s question marks about where the hosts stand in the format seeing as they haven’t played England in a series in more than six years.
“If we have to lift ourselves for (England), that’s not the right motivation. We are playing for the national team, we always want to do well,” said Hathurusingha, who begins his second stint as Bangladesh coach.
“They are the world champions. They have one team playing somewhere else, they have another team here. They have a mind-blowing depth of talent. We want to see where we are at, and find out the gap that we have to bridge. If we do well in these conditions, it will give us confidence.
“We have prepared well. We had a practice match and match scenario sessions. I was very impressed with the commitment shown by the players. They are very much ready.”
Dealing with England’s fast bowlers, led by the fit-again Jofra Archer, is the key for Hathurusingha.
“They have one of the best pace attacks in the world. They have five fast bowlers and three spinners on this tour,” he said. “The challenge will be their fast bowlers.”
At the same time, Hathurusingha believed matching England’s confident aggression is the best way to deal with the visitors.
“We played aggressive cricket in my last stint,” he said. “You see only the action of the batters. There are many ways of playing aggressive cricket apart from hitting the ball out of the ground. It is the attitude that we are bringing, whether fielding, bowling or batting. We will be aggressive.”
Hathurusingha was unfazed by talk of a rift between ODI captain Tamim Iqbal and star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan raised by Bangladesh Cricket Board president Nazmul Hassan. Tamim also dismissed it, saying they work well on the field which is all that counts.
“You don’t need to be best of friends to go out and have dinner,” Hathurusingha said. “As long as it is not affecting (the team), I don’t see it as a problem.”
England has been the only visitor to win a bilateral ODI series in Bangladesh since 2015. However, since the 2-1 defeat to England in 2016, Bangladesh has won seven successive ODI series at home, including against India 2-1 in December.
Bangladesh’s slow, spin-friendly pitches are regularly tough to handle but England captain Jos Buttler believed the series will be ideal preparation for the World Cup.
“We see Bangladesh as very tough to beat in their home conditions,” Buttler said. “It is exactly the kind of challenge we need ahead of the World Cup.
“These are the conditions that would probably be the closest we can get to play in India.”
It is also the last overseas series England plays before the World Cup.
England has lost its last four ODI series, including in South Africa at the start of the month.