England opponents Bangladesh fear crowd backlash

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The Independent Online

Bangladesh players will try to block out their passionate fans when they face England in the World Cup on Friday after the crowd turned on them in their previous match.

The Dhaka crowd's mood turned from festive to fury last week as the co-hosts crashed to a team record low 58 against the West Indies and lost their Group B encounter by nine wickets.

Later the visitors' team bus was stoned after fans mistook it for the home side's vehicle and captain Shakib Al Hasan was targeted for particular abuse.

Even the country's premier stepped in to appeal for the cricket-mad nation's supporters to calm down and armoured personnel carriers were introduced to give added security for all teams.

It was a far cry from an earlier match when a 27-run win over Ireland prompted nationwide celebrations.

Asked how his team would handle the pressure of a make-or-break game against England in front of such a volatile crowd in Chittagong, Shakib said the only ploy would be to concentrate on the job in hand.

"Some day if you play well, they will cheer for you and some day if you don't play well they will abuse you. So we are not thinking about our crowd," he said.

"We have to do our stuff. We know what we can do and we hope to do those things.

Anything but a win against England will severely dent Bangladesh's hopes of progressing to the quarter-final and that added to the pressure too, said Shakib.

"The boys will be a bit tense but we believe if we can play well we can beat any team and we are confident enough to do the right thing," Shakib said.

The Bangladesh skipper was also targeted for criticism after the West Indies trouncing by a number of senior former players and he stoked up a row by responding to them in his national newspaper column.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board stepped in with a blanket ban on any of their squad writing a column during the Feb 19-April 2 tournament which the country is co-hosting with India and Sri Lanka.

Local media also published pictures showing the 23-year-old all-rounder pointing his finger towards fans during the prize-giving ceremony, which led to another bout of criticism.

Shakib said the brickbats directed at him personally had made his job easier to lift the side after last Friday's defeat.

"Since everything was coming upon me, the team was spared. It made the job (to motivate the side) relatively easier," he said.

England arrived in Chittagong in buoyant mood after beating group favourites South Africa by six runs on Sunday but injuries to Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad forcing them out of the tournament have stalled their momentum.