Bangladesh fast shedding ‘minnows’ tag
Every dog has its day goes the saying and the Bangladesh cricket team cannot be fault for thinking that their day under the sun or should I say under floodlights has finally come! Ever since the Bangla Tigers were inducted into the cauldron of international cricket, they have been at the receiving end of lop-sided defeats, which bordered on morale-pounding rather than the confidence-injecting triumphs, which would spur on bigger things.
There was always a lurking feeling that the Bangladesh team was teeming with flair and promise, but a lot of times they have only contrived to exude a ‘flatter to deceive’ feeling. Over the years, Bangladesh has churned out the likes of Mohammed Ashraful (his singlehanded demotion of Australia in one game in England is still remembered fondly) and Mohammed Rafique, who were talked about in glowing terms – it’s a different matter that the former didn’t quite realize his potential, while the latter served his country with distinction.
Over-reliance on Shakib?
Somehow, Bangladesh never seemed to have a coterie of five-six solid players, who on their day can inflict serious damage on the opposition, irrespective of whether it is a world number one side or any other top side. Over the past few years, there is strong criticism about the Bangladesh side that was heavily reliant on Shakib Al Hasan, who is not just a fluent strokemaker, but is a brilliant fielder and more than a handy left-arm spinner.
Without mincing words, one felt that Shakib had to do everything by himself for Bangladesh to look competitive against any frontline side. We have seen on umpteen occasions Shakib performing the ‘rescue act’ for Bangladesh be it a Test match or a one-day game either with the bat or ball. Bangladesh also has another hugely talented Tamim Iqbal, who would occasionally fire befitting his reputation (we all remember his Test ton at Lord’s) much to the frustration of his team.
The perspective one is trying to draw is that Bangladesh never had the batting and bowling units to threaten top sides, though there are signs that this team was getting closer towards fast shedding the tag of ‘minnows’. The 2015 World Cup saw a vastly transformed Bangladesh side, which got hunger instilled in their ranks to push the envelope and make other sides realize that their days of being minnows are nearly over.
Players apart from Shakib stepping up
Bangladesh’s epochal victory over England on Monday, which saw the latter out of the World Cup, was a warning to the top sides to not take them lightly. Shakib Al Hasan, the one Bangladesh counted on on numerous occasions to get them out of problems, got out early and yet they got out of a rut at 99-4 to finish with 275! That was largely due to a fine century by Mahmudullah, who has grown in stature over the past few years having played the second fiddle to the likes of Shakib and Tamim.
Mushfiqur Rahim has also improved his stroke play, adding some brilliant technical shots in his repertoire while skipper Mashrafe Mortaza has proved to be an able soldier for the team over the years, despite a plethora of injuries throughout his cricketing career. Mortaza was, perhaps, the only Bangladeshi bowler who used to clock speeds in excess of 140 kmph consistently, as the others were gentle medium-pacers who were incapable of putting fear in the batsmen with their pace.
This current side, however, has Rubel Hossain and 19-year-old Taskin Ahmed, the duo who bowl in excess of 140 kmph with ease and can make things difficult for the opposition with their pace and swing – the delivery by Taskin that prized out a well-set Jos Butler would aptly sum it up. Rubel showed a lot of maturity in his side’s victory over England as well – first accounting for the vastly experienced Ian Bell before polishing off the English tail to trigger joyous celebrations in the Bangladesh camp.
This Bangladeshi side appears more ‘complete’ and does not easily get overawed by the reputation of other teams and are armed with self-belief knowing they will make a match of it, irrespective of who they are facing. Expecting Bangladesh to go beyond the quarterfinals would sound slightly over the top, but any team that is going to underestimate them will have to pay a heavy price as this side thrive on being the underdogs.