NEW DELHI, March 11, – England can deliver a potentially fatal bodyblow to Bangladesh's World Cup dreams on Friday and virtually ensure their place in the quarter-finals.Andrew Strauss’s side, reeling from the double loss through injury of batting superstar Kevin Pietersen and strike bowler Stuart Broad, have endured a rollercoaster campaign.
A win over the Netherlands was followed by a tie against India, a shock defeat to Ireland and a tense, gritty six-run win over South Africa where they defended just 17
Bangladesh, hoping to exploit spin-friendly conditions by playing all of their group games on home soil, have been in turmoil, losing two of their three matches so far.
Last week’s nine-wicket loss to West Indies, when they were bowled out for a paltry 58, sparked violence and demonstrations in the streets as fans raged against a team who had high hopes of making the last eight.
Defeat on Friday will leave the Tigers needing to beat South Africa to have any chance of staying in the competition while also hoping other results go their way.
"The boys are tense, but they are also confident that they can put up a good show," said Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan ahead of the day-night Group B game at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium in Chittagong.
"We have prepared well for the game. We have worked hard in the last few days. I have tried to take the pressure on myself, so it eases the pressure on them."
Strauss is staying tight-lipped over his new opening partner for the game following the loss of Pietersen, who returned home to undergo hernia surgery
The free-scoring Pietersen revelled in his new position, contributing to stands of 105, 68 and 91 in the first three games.
"I am very clear in my mind who will open, but will not say before the game has started," Strauss said.
The choice is likely to be limited to Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara or wicket-keeper Matt Prior.
West Indies can help England’s cause, as well as their own, by beating Ireland in Mohali in the early Group B game.
Wins for West Indies and England will guarantee Strauss’s team a last eight place.
West Indies, who have four points from three games, suffered a setback when opener Chris Gayle was ruled out with an abdominal strain.
Ireland were without experienced all-rounder Trent Johnston, who is nursing a bruised knee.
Meanwhile, Tillakaratne Dilshan has stressed that Sri Lanka need to keep up their momentum after becoming the first team to reach the quarter-finals.
The 34-year-old hit a brilliant 144 during a record World Cup first wicket stand of 282 with Upul Tharanga (133) to lift Sri Lanka to 327-6 before taking a career-best 4-4 to bowl out Zimbabwe for 188 at Pallekele on Thursday.
Sri Lanka’s comfortable 139-run win lifted them to the top of Group A, with seven points from five matches.
"I am happy with my batting and bowling," said Dilshan.
"We are playing good cricket and everything is going our way. We must keep this performance and momentum intact."