By Amlan Chakraborty
SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) – Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes reckons the slow track and big outfield at the Hampshire Bowl may result in a boundary drought and has told his batsmen to run hard in Monday’s World Cup match against Afghanistan.
Rhodes followed Saturday’s match in which India survived a mighty scare against Afghanistan in a low-scoring thriller.
On a conspicuously slow wicket, India’s vaunted line-up managed 224-8, while Afghanistan fell 11 runs short when they returned to chase.
Only Virat Kohli, who topscored with 67, managed a 100-plus strike rate, while both teams managed only one six each.
“I watched bit of the game live and rest on TV. The wicket was a little bit slower and turned a little bit. We’re playing on the same wicket, so that’s useful to know,” Rhodes said on Sunday.
“The wicket is right in the middle of the ground and there are some huge boundaries.”
“So six-hitting and four-hitting might be less, like the other day against India. We’ll certainly have to run hard for our singles and twos, and turn them into threes. That’s an important aspect.”
The track might suit his bowlers though, the Englishman said.
Afghanistan bowled with lot of discipline against India. Leg-spinner Rashid Khan will be particularly pleased having bounced back from his mauling by England captain Eoin Morgan to return figures 10-0-38-1.
Rhodes said they respected the Afghan spinners but were not intimidated by them.
“I think the word is respect,” Rhodes said.
“We do respect them but we don’t fear them. A lot of the lads have grown up playing on spinning wickets, they faced a lot of spin bowlers. We’ll respect them because they are top international bowlers.”
Admiration is the other emotion he has for the plucky Afghans in their second World Cup appearance.
“We’re not fearful of them, but you know what, I’m really proud also of Afghanistan’s rise in the cricketing ranks,” Rhodes said.
“Bangladesh did a fine job in 20 years internationally. Afghanistan are now doing a good job. I think these two countries are actually where cricket is thriving.”
Bangladesh suffered an injury scare when Mehidy Hasan Miraz suffered a blow to the head while giving an interview but Rhodes said the off-spinner was doing well.
“Mehidy just got a hit on the side of his head when giving an interview, the ball came flying out of the net. He seems OK, he seems fine. The physio is checking him. There was no blood or anything like that,” he said.
(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Southampton; editing by Pritha Sarkar)