A quarterfinal berth in 2015 World Cup followed by a semifinal finish in 2017 Champions Trophy, but Bangladesh aren’t quite the toast of the cricketing world. Afghanistan are; their accelerated rise to the top devouring the Bangladesh story altogether.
Afghanistan’s is an inspirational story but Bangladesh, far from an also-ran in this underdog meshwork, have been shortchanged. They deserved more time under the sun, more time as underdogs who tried. Can it be a good thing? Perhaps there’s never been a better time to back them. 2019 World Cup will see them field their best-ever team, some of which will be lost to famous retirements soon after. And with all the eyes on Afghanistan and their upsets, Bangladesh can quietly flourish.
So what’s their gameplan?
Bangladesh don’t have a wrist spinner in their squad, and it tells a story. When teams have moved on to fresh templates for ODI cricket, Bangladesh bring with them the old-world strategy of choking the opposition with finger spin, of openers prioritizing safety over opportunity against the new ball, and of middle-overs being more about finding the gaps than clearing the fielders. How effective this non-conformist tactic turn out, especially on the flat pitches on, will be an interesting watch.
Player should watch out for
He wasn’t even 22 when he batted at No. 3 for Bangladesh in the 2015 World Cup, and now returns to the same tournament as a player who could have done so much more. Since that amazing run against Pakistan, India and South Africa in a home season in 2015, Sarkar has struggled for runs and consistency. He was even dropped after the 2018 Asia Cup but now finds himself back in the fray, set to open the batting alongside Tamim Iqbal in a World Cup. Not to forget his medium pace, which can be a quiet cooperator in a World Cup obsessed with all-rounders.
What are their chances?
This isn’t a World Cup for upsets. Winning one odd game against a higher-ranked opposition might not do the trick. That’s not to say that Bangladesh cannot beat the more fancied teams; the question is can they do it enough number of times?
“We have played six finals and lost,” Mortaza told Cricbuzz about the “mental barrier” that Bangladesh need to cross. At least a semifinal finish in a World Cup such as this will be a step forward in the right direction.
Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim(wk), Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mashrafe Mortaza(c), Mehidy Hasan, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Mithun, Abu Jayed, Mosaddek Hossain
June 2: v South Africa at Kennington Oval, London (D)
June 5: v New Zealand at Kennington Oval, London (D/N)
June 8: v England at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff (D)
June 11: v Sri Lanka at County Ground, Bristol (D)
June 17: v West Indies at Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton (D)
June 20: v Australia at Trent Bridge, Nottingham (D)
June 24: v Afghanistan at The Rose Bowl, Southampton (D)
July 2: v India at Edgbaston, Birmingham (D)
July 5: v Pakistan at Lord’s, London (D)