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Fitness of Tigers a concern ahead of Pakistan clash

  • Published at 06:45 pm September 25th, 2018
Steve Rhodes
Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes has a word in the nets during training

The conditions in the UAE for cricket have been highly criticized and Bangladesh cricketers to an extent are facing their ultimate challenge with fitness

Fitness and dealing with the difficult middle-eastern conditions has emerged as a challenge for Bangladesh who take on Pakistan in a crucial fixture in the ACC Asia Cup 2018 on Wednesday. The two sides equal on points in the Super Four stage of the tournament will battle it out to emerge as the second finalist of the tournament at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Bangladesh alongside dealing an unpredictable Pakistan will also have to negotiate with the test of their physical endurance. The conditions in the UAE for cricket have been highly criticized and Bangladesh cricketers to an extent are facing their ultimate challenge with fitness. Neither have they ever played under such conditions nor has it been under such a tight schedule.

Three matches in the span of four days, one group match and two Super Four games, alongside the journey from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and back has come as a tough challenge for the Tigers. The fatigue was evident in their last game against Afghanistan. Many were dealing with cramps and dehydration including match-winner Mustafizur Rahman, who had willed himself on to bowl the last over of the game and seal a three-run victory to keep Bangladesh alive in tournament.

Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes said almost all the teams had to deal with this challenge but have managed through. In order to recover, the Bangladesh cricketers were given two-days of rest and had an optional training session in the nets on Tuesday. Wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim was the only regular member from the playing eleven to have spent some time in the nets.

“They’ll (Bangladesh cricketers) be fine. It’s been a tough schedule and a lot of travel. Abu Dhabi is quite a long journey. We stay at the far end of Dubai, so it adds a half hour. The travels as well as the conditions have been very difficult. But all of the teams have managed to get through that. All the teams have faced the same regarding fatigue. So the last two days have been about recovering, for the players. An optional day today (Tuesday), yesterday (Monday) has been a total day off. So they should be in a good frame of mind, mentally and physically, certainly a lot better. We are looking forward to the challenge, to be honest. It’s going to be a great challenge and this is what we came for – we win a game and it will put us through to the final,” said Steve to the media at the ICC Cricket Academy on Tuesday.

According to Bangladesh trainer Mario Villavarayan the key is keeping the players hydrated, getting a lot of sleep and keeping away from sun if not necessary. Despite measure there are issues bound to happen with cramps and the body not being at its best and the coaching staff have to play a role here by keeping the players mentally strong.  

“The key is proper hydration. You start giving them hydrolytes and saline from the day before (a game). ice baths. So it is all about hydrating yourself. You cannot get dehydrated. That’s the main thing in this kind of heat. What we have changed a little bit is increased the amount of saline intake because you sweat a lot under 40 degree temperature. But it is not easy, they are still having cramps and it is bound to happen. We have played three games in four days. It is all to sleep, hydration, ice bath, message,” Mario explained.

Queried on how the players are reacting to the situation, Mario said, “They have been reacting well to the process. They are bound to struggle but it is all upon how strong you are mentally. It becomes a problem if you have tour head down when you are struggling. As a coaching group we just need to be behind them. There are issues but we do not over-discuss it."