Bangladesh’s arrival in the World Cup cricket created more noise than expected. After narrowly defeating Scotland at Edinburgh, Bangladesh emerged as the better team in the famous clash against Pakistan at Northampton although the result has subsequently been masked in mystery.
Bangladesh hit their lowest in International Cricket at World Cup 2003. A hapless Bangladesh suffered hammering defeats against all oppositions including amateur Canada.
Bangladesh opted for Dav Whatmore, the mentor of Sri Lankan renaissance after the world cup to turn the fate around. Dav succeeded largely to make Bangladesh a more competitive side and earned crucial victories against World Champions India, Sri Lanka and finally Australia. Bangladesh received an unofficial breathing space of 10 months in 2006 when they only featured against minnow countries except ICC Champions trophy. It seemed to work for Bangladesh as they have won 17 out of 20 matches they have played against Zimbabwe, Kenya and Scotland.
Now, another world cup cricket is knocking at the door. Bangladesh is placed in group B along with Sri Lanka, India and Bermuda in the Caribbean edition of World Cup. Bangladesh has already reached the Caribbean and building up the momentum before playing the gala event. They started their campaign well after winning the tri-series involving Canada and their group mate Bermuda.
Most cricket pundits are taking it as quite obvious that Bangladesh will take the same fate like two previous outings where they failed to propel themselves beyond initial stages. On the other hand, Bangladesh is going to this world cup with a completely different frame of mind. For the first time, they are expecting to lift themselves to the next round. Their maverick coach Dav Whatmore and captain Habibul Bashar have already made their intention public.
Now, to progress into the second round ahead of either Sri Lanka or India might look fanciful but not impossible. Bangladesh is becoming a good ODI outfit and has good record behind them over the last one year. The only problem is the difference of level of cricket they played over this period and World Cup. Bangladesh achieved the confidence from their successes against relatively weaker oppositions. Now for world cup success; they have to use that confidence to change the gear in their pursuit of winning a second round berth. They have potential and players to realize their astounding dream. The big question remains whether they will be able to change the level of cricket and translate potential into performance?
But in Shahriar Nafees, they have uncovered an opener who is more than capable of the anchor role with controlled aggression required to allow the likes of Mohammad Ashraful and Aftab Ahmed to extravagance the batting display. They are taking a gamble with boom boom Afridi style opener Tamim Iqbal who can turn the match around in his days and can be destructive in small Caribbean grounds. Captain Habibul Bashar and young all-rounder Sakib Al Hasan are hitting the form in right time. Inclusion of former U19 captain Mushfiqur Rahim as wicket keeper gave the side much needed balance in batting.
Mashrafe Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain are providing a little of the new-ball pace and aggression they lacked for years. The slow left arm army of Bangladesh are keen to exploit the slow surfaces expected in the West Indies. Mohammad Rafiq and Abdur Razzak are two world class spin bowlers and Sakib Al Hasan is becoming increasingly confident in his bowling. The lack of variation is a real worry against spin maestro nations like India or Sri Lanka, still they have got the much needed disciplines of one day bowlers.
Having said these, it is highly probable that Bangladesh will make early exit from the world cup but taking them lightly will turn the world cup dream of one of the title contenders into nightmare. Photo : Tigers have to do everything right on the field for WC success.
The truth about Bangladesh cricket is undeniably that their paramount is becoming more visible after each and every series. A young side with average age of 22 and so much potential can only get better. A country with 150 million population and crazy fan base for cricket will be a powerhouse of world cricket in time. Bangladesh is rescheduling their emergence time every year and will be required to do so until they frame a standard domestic infrastructure. Until then, patience is the key with perseverance and discipline. Whatmore, or one of his successors, will need ample more of that endurance before the incentives become evident. Before reaching that mark, they have to do everything right on the field and expect others to make mistakes to extract some gold on the way.