World Cup 2019: Bangladesh are out to correct their record at the showpiece event
One never knows what to expect from Bangladesh. In their first World Cup in 1999, they beat Pakistan, which won them the ticket to the game’s highest level, Test matches. They trounced India in 2007, which put the star-studded sub-continental giants out of that World Cup in the first stage. The Bangla tigers, though, are as likely to cause spectacular upsets, as they are to slump to embarrassing reverses to lower-ranked teams in the mega event.
In the 2003 World Cup they were beaten by Canada and Kenya. They handed out a huge defeat to South Africa too in the 2007 super-eight, but themselves lost badly to Ireland.
They were England’s bugbear in the last two World Cups. In 2011, Bangladesh scored a narrow two-wicket win with an over to spare. England just managed to yo-yo their way to the quarter-finals. Four years later, Bangladesh put in a splendid performance to overcome England in a hard-fought encounter. This time England were knocked out, and Bangladesh advanced to the quarter-finals for the first time.
In that match, Mahmudullah scored a fine 103 off 138 deliveries, and featured in a splendid fifth-wicket partnership of 141 runs with wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim who hit up 89 off 77 balls. Opener Soumya Sarkar put up a solid 40, laying the foundation for a total of 275 for five. Pacer Rubel Hossain then scalped four wickets for 53, to halt England at 260 in 48.3 overs.
Bangladesh took their splendid form into the next game and made eventual runners-up New Zealand toil hard. This time Mahmudullah crafted a brilliant unbeaten 128 from 123 deliveries. That was Bangladesh’s highest individual score in the World Cup, and Mahmudullah's third successive 50-plus score.
Soumya Sarkar got 51 off 58, while Sabbir Rahman tonked the ball around for 40 off 23. Bangladesh logged up a formidable 288 for seven.
Martin Guptill, in wonderful touch, stroked a century in under a run-a-ball, and New Zealand were able to triumph by three wickets with 7 balls to spare. This was not before Shakib Hasan took four wickets for 55.
All these players form the fulcrum of the Bangladesh squad in the 2019 World Cup along with the experienced seamer and skipper Mashrafe Mortaza. In his 16 World Cup matches, Mashrafe has 18 wickets at an average of 36.05, with a best of four for 38 and an economy-rate of 4.94.
Their most valued asset, of course, is the accomplished all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, one of the best in the world but rarely credited with it. In 21 World Cup games, Sakib has scored 540 runs at an average of 30 and strike-rate of 70.86, and bagged 23 wickets at 35.78 apiece with an economy rate of 4.99.
Former captain Mushfiqur Rahim has been a reliable wicketkeeper-batsman for years. He has also played 21 World Cup games, aggregating 510 runs at 31.87 per innings and strike-rate of 72.03, snaring 13 catches and 5 stumpings behind the sticks.
The star Bangladesh batsman is doubtlessly Mahmudullah. He has batted in just 9 innings in 10 World Cup fixtures but has already carved out 397 runs at an average of 56.71 and strike-rate of 77.69, along with those two hundreds and a fifty.
Bangladesh are placed 9th in the all-time World Cup standings, but 7th in the current International Cricket Council (ICC) rankings - ahead of the West Indies and Sri Lanka.
South Africa were trounced badly by hosts England in the opening World Cup 2019 face-off. They would be on edge, and the Bangladeshis should be looking to capitalise on it.
So far all the four games have been one-sided, with a lot of short-pitched fast bowling and no century. Will this match be different? There is some interesting Sunday entertainment on offer.
Also read - Lowest team total in world cup