It gives us a breather but it is not the ultimate goal.

Bangladesh’s qualification for the 2023 ODI World Cup has surprised Tamim Iqbal ahead of the three-match home series against India starting on Sunday. Bangladesh were one of the seven teams to qualify directly for the World Cup after the second ODI between Sri Lanka and Afghanistan ended in a draw at Pallikele.

“I was shocked when I saw that we had completed the qualification,” Tamim told ESPNcricinfo. “I thought we needed to win one of the last six matches, but because of other teams’ results, it came early, it gives a bit of comfort, but it’s not the ultimate goal. We’re in the final. To finish. Top four if possible.”

Bangladesh have won five of their last six ODI series under Tamim, the highlight being their first series victory in South Africa in March this year. Tamim’s winning percentage of 59.25 is currently the best by a Bangladesh captain in ODIs.

“I think the way we qualified is a big achievement,” Tamim said. “I felt we took it very seriously when it came to qualifying, we knew we had some away series, we didn’t want to wait until the end to qualify. The 2023 Worlds. Going into the cup, we definitely want to do really well. If we qualify as one of the top three or four teams, it makes sense to talk about wanting to play in the semi-finals or the final. If You go as a No. 4 team, so that means having done well in more than 20-23 matches. For a team like us, that will give us some confidence.

Tamim’s partnership with coach Russell Domingo has been key to Bangladesh’s recent success. Domingo was under pressure after Bangladesh’s twin series defeat in Zimbabwe, after which BCB brought in S Sriram as a technical consultant – effectively head coach – for the Asia Cup (in the T20 format) and the T20 World Cup.

Tamim, who retired from T20I cricket earlier this year, has rejoined Domingo and the rest of the squad for the crucial ODI and Test series in the coming months. Despite “some rocky times” before, Domingo said he and Tamim are now on the same page.

“We have a good understanding,” Domingo said. “We’ve had some tough times. Our relationship is good now. We understand each other’s roles. We understand what we want from our team. The next two months are crucial for the 50-over team. We really want to qualify. For the semi-finals [of the World Cup]. We have a team capable of doing this.

“That’s kind of the language we’ve been talking about for the last year and a half. We’re not just going out there to compete, we want to try to win the competition. With our players in these situations, I think we have that. There is an opportunity. We need to share that belief because the belief in Bangladesh cricket is not where it needs to be. There are going to be some speed bumps, we will lose games, but the ultimate goal is the semi-finals of the World Cup. to arrive.”

Domingo returned to Bangladesh earlier this month after a break during the T20 World Cup. He attributed Bangladesh’s success in ODIs to his understanding of the role.

“We had a good start last year with wins at home against West Indies and Sri Lanka,” he said. “We lost in New Zealand but we came close in one match, which gave us confidence. It’s a format the boys play well in. They’ve won big series before, so they’re looking forward to this particular one. Confident in the format.”

Bangladesh then defeated South Africa 2-1 in the away series, which Domingo considers one of his best achievements as a coach.

“If we had lost in South Africa, we would be in a different situation today with only six games to play,” Domingo said. “We had to win three or four matches at home against England and Ireland, who are a serious team in their home conditions. South Africa was a big challenge then. We had never won a match in South Africa in our history. . We never even competed there, so the way everyone contributed, especially the bowlers won the series.”

Bangladesh also beat the West Indies 3–0 and soon after lost 2–1 to Zimbabwe, but those two series were not part of the ODI Super League. He has since turned his attention to T20s ahead of the World Cup in Australia and Tamim is worried about the lack of time for the ODI series against India.

“The only worrying thing is that we haven’t played one-day cricket in the last three-four months,” Tamim said. “Because of the World Cup, we have played a lot of T20s. They are two very different formats. It is very important to get into the ODI mindset. You have to be mentally ready to play against a top team like India. “

Domingo is mostly not too worried about the transition from T20Is to ODIs as the core of the batting group – Tamim, Mehmoodullah and Mushfiqur Rahim – were not part of the T20 World Cup.

“We know who our best 17-18 players are in this format,” Domingo said. Time to bring it up to 15 for the World Cup. Everyone understands their role. But there are one or two positions you’re looking for, so this series is good for filling those spots.

Tamim also warned Bangladesh against complacency and said their ultimate goal is to make it to the knockout stage of the ODI World Cup next year.

Tamim said that teams that have won trophies know exactly what needs to be done on the big stage. “But teams like us who don’t have a trophy, we sometimes get confused as to how to go about it. We’ll be playing really good teams like India and England before the World Cup, which gives us that. Will have a chance to see where we are.

“We can’t rest just because we’ve qualified. That’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to do well in the World Cup, and for that we have to do well in these series. If we do well If we’re not doing it, then we can figure out where we need to improve.”

Mohammad Esam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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