Bangladesh has performed consistently well in ODI cricket over the past few years. They defeated the powerhouse of world cricket, India, by a margin of 2-1 in the recently concluded ODI series. It was a formidable series victory against their neighbours, who fielded an almost full-strength side on this tour.
Bangladesh's home record is particularly dominant. Barring a loss against England in October 2016, they have not lost a single bilateral series at home in the past seven years. Earlier this year, they also managed to defeat South Africa in an away series for the first time in their history.
However, the culmination of this rise in their stature will happen when they are able to win a big event, like the World Cup. Next year, ODI cricket's biggest event takes place in India. Will Bangladesh do what Sri Lanka did in 1996 and emerge as surprise champions?
In this article, we'll take a look at three reasons why the Bangladesh cricket team might prove to be the dark horse at the 2023 World Cup.
#1 Bangladesh have a stable batting unit
Bangladesh's most probable top 5 at the World Cup might be Tamim Iqbal, Litton Das, Shakib al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mahmudullah. These batsmen will provide the team with the right mix of aggression and stability required in ODI cricket.
Most of these batsmen have loads of experience in the 50-over format. Tamim, Mushfiqur, Shakib, and Mahmudullah have all played more than 200 matches for the country. They are well equipped against spin bowling and have the tools to counter fast bowlers too.
The lower order also has some exciting talent. Mehidy Hasan Miraz stepped up in the first two matches against India when the team was in a spot of bother. Afif Hossain also has an impressive record in a relatively short career. Thus, their batting seems to be shaping up well for the mega-event next year.
#2 They have quality spin bowlers
Bangladesh have two quality spinners in Shakib Al Hasan and Mehidy Hasan Miraz. In the past five years, both have picked up over 50 wickets each at an economy rate of less than five. Taijul Islam has also done little wrong in the recent past.
There is a good variety in the bowling unit - Shakib is a left-arm orthodox spinner while Miraz is an offie. They can play at least two and probably even three spinners at the World Cup depending upon the nature of the pitch and opposition.
Mahmudullah can also chip in with the ball as a viable sixth bowling option if required. Although he has not bowled that much in the recent past, he is still a very handy option for the 'Tigers'.
#3 Motivation to succeed at a major tournament
Bangladesh is a cricket-crazy nation. However, when it comes to multi-national tournaments, they have always been there and thereabouts. They always challenge the top sides at these events but often fail to get across the line. This is more of a mental issue rather than a lack of quality.
However, Bangladesh have had a couple of good performances in multilateral events. They reached the final of the 2018 Asia Cup in the UAE, where they lost to India in a nail-biting thriller. They also made it to the semi-finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy in England, again losing to a quality Indian side.
The 2023 World Cup might be the last major event for some of their major stars. Therefore, they would be driven to compete hard and perform well in the tournament. If they make it to the semi-finals of this mega event, it will definitely enhance the legacy of this ODI unit to quite an extent.
Get IPL 2023 Live Score along with Points Table & Schedule Updates at Sportskeeda.