The shifting tides!
Lets head back in time and recapitulate our cricketing memory. The Asia cup was more a stiff competition between India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan where at one point in time Bangladesh was more just trying to cause an upset. Now let’s look back at the 2015 World Cup where India finished at the semi finals after a very competitive run throughout the series. Bangladesh were just one notch lower as they too finished at the quarter finals in a tournament where many experts also had the audacity to say that could have been the year the Bengal tigers take it to the top. Under the leadership of their fierce all rounder Mashrafe Murtaza, Bangladesh as a cricketing unit has definitely upped their game providing fierce competition to any and every opponent.
Just after the World Cup concluded, Bangladesh started their season on a high as they had Zimbabwe as visitors. Though Zimbabwe isn’t known for the standards it had set back in the nineties, it was still not a team that could be taken lightly. Even as Zimbabwe put in their best performance, a boosted Bangladesh unit made sure that victory was coming in their way. Many critics took it lightly as Zimbabwe wasn’t the best side to understand Bangladesh’s potential. The next series was followed by Pakistan and India visiting Dhaka. The Shere Bengal Stadium again witnessed the tigers pick up the trophy back to back in a consecutive series win. In the series against India, the world saw a sensational bowling talent in their newly recruited Mustafizur Rehman. Wasim Akram, who was commentator during the series praised the young lad saying that he might be one of the finest fast bowlers if he kept his discipline right. Mustafizur also emerged as man of the series with a dozen of wickets against the Indians.
Even after the three consecutive series wins, their series win against India was still termed a fluke as the series ended on a 3-2 score with the hosts in favour. Critics said that it could have definitely gone either way. Their skipper Mashrafe Murtaza however addressed the media stating that they have received harsh treatment from the critics and they are definitely better than that. The hosts had another visitor in the next few months coming up. The in form South Africans. The captain again stated that they weren’t a fluke. However, the unsaid words echoed of this series to be the real test for the Bangladeshi’s form or as most others placed it as fluke. The South Africans though started the series as a bully, things quickly changed as the Bangladeshi’s fought back. The series again ended on a high for the hosts as they shocked the visitors who were defeated in the series. The adjectives then began changing, it wasn’t fluke any more. It was a commendable unit looking to fight back against all odds and willing to change a reputation of the Underdog which has haunted their cricketing fraternity for decades today.
Coming into the current scheme of things, Bangladesh began their Asia cup on a high but tasted defeat when they faced the in form Indians who seem to be adapting to any situation at the moment. Most called it an obvious victory for the Indians but what many didn’t realise was that the Bangladeshi’s had now become a vengeful unit. After all it was their home ground and they were in no mood to be bullied. The aftermath of their loss was later suffered by SriLanka and Pakistan as they suffered defeat from the hosts who not only beat them in competition but beat them by a distant margin. In the match against Srilanka, the hosts batted first. Though the start was poor with both openers falling for a duck with no score on the board in the first over, the one down man Sabbir Rehman took responsibility for the batting scoring an impeccable 80 of just 54 balls at a strike rate of almost 150. He was well supported by all rounder Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah who made sure that Bangladesh score a competitive 147 at the end of 20 overs. Though Srilanka looked confident when they came in to bat, they were taken in by surprise.
Though the top 4 provided momentum leading the team towards a formidable position, Bangladesh never lacked in discipline which made sure that the required rate was always a tough one. Regular wickets and some really great bowling performances by Al-Amin Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan made sure that there would be a break on the scoring. Eventually Srilanka emerged short on the target by a good 23 runs making sure that they remain on top.
Against Pakistan, fate decided on the hosts chasing as Pakistan came in to bat first. Though Bangladesh started well with their bowling ensuring quick wickets sending the openers back, Sarfaraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik provided stability to the Pakistani batting with their scores of 58 and 41 respectively. However, the bowling remained disciplined making sure that the target never gets out of reach. Pakistan finished their batting with an average 129 with a required rate of about 6.5 runs per over which did look competitive on a green wicket.
The Pakistani bowling attack boasted of pace and swing in their initial attack which ensured the runs being in check and wickets at regular intervals. However, Soumya Sarkar was the man who took up the responsibility of taking their team over the rope on this occasion. With patience on display at the top, Soumya ensured he saw through the swinging new ball and attacked the ball when he saw the opportunity for it. It was finally in the 19th over that Mashrafe Murtaza, the captain of the competitive new age Bangladeshi squad took the team over the line as Mohammad Sami bowled two no balls and both extremely lose deliveries which were thrashed for boundaries by the captain. There has been one hickup for the Bangladeshi’s in the series against India but they do find themselves as finalists looking for vengeance.
The quarter finals of the 2015 World Cup was definitely no fluke. They went on to beat some of the most formidable nations post that and have continued with their form. As the finals of the Asia cup approach, is Bangladesh a favourite heading into the World T20?