(Reuters) - England’s resounding victory over Australia on Saturday enabled Bangladesh to book an unexpected spot in Champions Trophy semi-finals but the South Asians are playing down expectations of going all the way to claim a maiden major title.
The hosts had already qualified before the Edgbaston encounter but relished the chance to put one over their bitterest rivals and eased to a 40-run win in the rain-affected Group A finale to end Australia’s interest in the competition.
That loss enabled Bangladesh, who had stunned New Zealand the previous day, to advance at their expense and the Tigers are keeping their feet firmly planted on the ground after reaching the last four of a global tournament for the first time.
“It’s a big thing for our cricket. It is an opportunity for us but I want to request everybody not to think we will go all the way to win the title,” Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza told reporters at the team hotel in Cardiff.
“It’s a tournament of the top eight teams and more challenging than the World Cup. So, to be in the semi-final is itself an achievement for us. It is also a reward for our continued effort towards improving our game,” he added.
“I think everyone has contributed to what we are today. The whole nation will be with us as they were in our desperate times and good times.”
All four teams in Group B -- India, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan -- can still advance going into their final round of pool matches but Bangladesh have no preference over who they wish to face at Edgbaston on Thursday.
“It can be any team and we are not thinking about that. Our focus for the next few days will be to prepare ourselves for the next game,” Mortaza added.
Number six Mahmudullah and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan made the highest partnership for any wicket in an ODI for the side when they put on 224 to take the match away from New Zealand but Bangladesh are resisting the temptation to tinker with their lineup.
“We have given him (Mahmudullah) a role around six months ago, which is to bat at number six. He has responded well batting there,” batting coach Thilan Samaraweera said.
”He was actually batting further up when I took the job in 2015 but after that, the coaching staff thought about getting him ready for the 2019 World Cup with the role at six.
“He is doing well there, finishing the game for the team recently, in (the recent tri-series in) Ireland and against New Zealand on Friday.”
Writing by John O'Brien in Singapore; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly