Netherlands batter Tom Cooper feels his side has the advantage of being a more in-the-groove outfit heading into their opening Super 12s fixture against Bangladesh, having already played three tough games in the first round of the Men’s T20 World Cup.
“There are some strong sides in the Super 12s stage, but we like our chances [against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe],” Cooper said. “We’ve come off a few competitive games, and Bangladesh are just starting out. They have had a [warm-up] game washed out, and just one practice game. We will hit the ground running.
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“You guys suggested it will be an upset [if Netherlands win], but we don’t see it that way. We are here to compete. We have got close against these guys in the past. I don’t see no reason that we can’t knock them off tomorrow.”
The path to the Super 12s had been anything but smooth for the Dutch side. They made it on the back of tough wins over UAE and Namibia. Netherlands then went down to Sri Lanka in the last qualifying game and had to wait anxiously to see UAE beat Namibia before their progression was confirmed.
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said that his side would in no way treat Netherlands any differently to any other team.
“We will prepare for every game in the same way. Whether we are playing against Netherlands, South Africa, Zimbabwe, India or Pakistan, we will think and prepare properly against each of these teams. Netherlands were expected to play at this stage,” Shakib said. “I think it is you [the media] who have created the perception that Bangladesh are relieved that we are playing against Netherlands.
“I don’t think any team in the world thinks this way. Similarly, we don’t feel that way. We are always trying to win. We are preparing the same way, even if Sri Lanka or West Indies were our opponents.”
Shakib Al Hasan urged his team-mates to be flexible with their roles•Getty Images
Shakib urged his team-mates to be flexible about playing in different positions with both bat and ball, based on what the situation demands. “We have 15 fit and ready players. Everyone has the potential to play in any situation. I want everyone to play freely. They will be prepared to bowl [any] particular over, field in [any] particular position, and generally play according to the team’s needs. Teams that can fit situations do well in T20s. I am hopeful our team has this knowledge.”
Shakib also played down questions of pressure on him as he returns as captain in a World Cup for the first time since 2011. Shakib lost his captaincy shortly after that tournament, and this has been his first opportunity since to lead his side full-time in a World Cup (he led Bangladesh in one game during the 2015 campaign).
“We come here with a lot of confidence. We played a lot of cricket against the big teams this summer. We had the chance to knock them off, so we are taking that experience into this tournament.”
“I don’t believe there’s a challenge for me, or I have to prove something. We have come here to play a World Cup in which Bangladesh hasn’t done well in the past. We have the ability to do something this time that we have not done before,” Shakib said.
Cooper meanwhile said that his side’s busy summer – they faced West Indies, England, New Zealand and Pakistan – is another source of confidence. While the results were not always in their favour, Cooper believes the experience will do Netherlands a world of good.
“We come here with a lot of confidence. We played a lot of cricket against the big teams this summer. We had the chance to knock them off, so we are taking that experience into this tournament. We are here to compete, not just to make up numbers. It starts with Bangladesh,” he said.
Cooper however has the result against Bangladesh at the T20 World Cup six years ago at the back of his mind.
“They are a dangerous team. Anyone can beat anyone in T20s. We won’t be looking too much into their record in the past [but] on their day, they can beat anyone. We have had some really close contests with them in the past, so it will be nice to compete and get a win against them tomorrow.”