It's not the ultimate goal: Tamim Iqbal on Bangladesh's World Cup qualification
Dhaka, Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal was surprised that Bangladesh had qualified for the 2023 ODI World Cup before the start of the three-match home series against India on Sunday.
After the ODI series between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan finished in a tie at Pallekele, Bangladesh was one of seven teams to earn straight qualification for the World Cup.
"I was taken by surprise when I saw that we had completed the qualification. I thought we would need to win one out of the last six games, but because of the other teams' results, it came early. It gives a bit of breather, but it is not the ultimate goal. We have to finish in the top four if possible," Tamim told ESPNcricinfo.
Under Tamim's captaincy, Bangladesh has won five of their previous six ODI series, with their first series triumph in South Africa in March of this year being the highlight. Tamim now has the highest winning percentage of any Bangladeshi skipper in ODIs (59.25).
"I think the way we qualified is a great achievement. I felt that when this qualification thing came up, we took it up very seriously. We knew we had some away series too. We didn't want to wait till the very end to qualify. Going into the 2023 World Cup, we definitely want to do really well. If we qualify as one of the top three or four teams, it makes sense talking about wanting to play in the semi-finals or finals. If you go in as say the No. 4 team, it means you have done well over 20-23 games. For a team like us, it would give us some confidence," Tamim said.
Tamim, who announced his retirement from Twenty20 cricket earlier this year, has regrouped with coach Russell Domingo and the rest of the team ahead of the ODI and Test series. Domingo claimed that despite "some rough times" in the past, he and Tamim were now on the same page.
"We have a good understanding. We have had some rocky times. Our relationship is good at the moment. We understand each other's roles. We understand what we want from our team. The next couple of months are important for the 50-over side. We really want to qualify for the semi-finals [of the World Cup]. We have a team capable of doing that," Domingo said.
"That's the sort of language that we are speaking in the last year and a half. We are not just going there to compete, we want to try to win the competition. In those conditions with our players, I think we have a chance. We need to share this belief because belief in Bangladesh cricket is not where it needs to be. There's going to be some speed bumps, we will lose games, but the end goal is to get to the World Cup semi-final," he added.