The Asia Cup final defeat will give Bangladesh real hope of taking over New Zealand’s title of ‘there or there about-ers’.
Much like the perennial question of “Have the West Indies turned a corner?”, every 50 plus run partnership is greeted with “Have Bangladesh grown a brain between them?”, but in truth I doubt even this tournament will prove either way if the fourth subcontinent side can make us forget about those first ten years of promising dross.
Mushfiqur Rahim (captain, wicket-keeper, pet Furby), Mahmudullah, Razzak, Hasan, Sunny, Reza, Islam, Siddique, Mortaza, Ashraful, Hossain, Shafiul Islam, al Hasan, Iqbal, Rahman.
Bangladesh carry nine players in their squad who partook in the inaugural competition, perhaps refuting the lazy stereotype of chopping and changing between countless hotheaded youngsters.
Suffice to say though that such consistency has yet to pay dividends for the Tigers. Removing Chris Gayle for a duck in their first game of the first tournament in 2007 proved to be the high point for Bangladesh in the World T20, having lost all eight of their games subsequent to that initial victory.
If the Bangladesh fast-bowling coach has one thing not to worry about, it’s attention from the paparazzi. I wouldn’t know him from the next guy, which points irrefutably to the fact that the Bangladeshi left arm spinners are their USP.
Gone are the days of Mohammed Rafique and Enamul Haque, but in their place we have Shakib and Razzak, whose high productivity yet little to no variation would put a Bollywood director to shame. On the Sri Lankan wickets we will see at least 12-14 overs of spin, and the relentless accuracy of these two may well cause terminal panic amongst sides like Lolstralia.
If anything, the at-first-glance quality top-order may prove to be Bangladesh’s weakness. Shakib al Hasan at 3 is a great move, but with Tamim Iqbal in a seemingly never-ending bad spell and Ashraful in need of 24-hour care, one slip-up from the IPL’s token Bangladeshi and we could be in for a rout before you can count to 20 (incidently, also the number of times Ashraful has been recalled to the side).
Nasir Hossain will become captain of Bangladesh in the not-too-distant future, but he makes Chanderpaul look like Afridi on steroids. Mushfiqur Rahim has balls and the ability to counter, but child soldiers have no place in this day and age, and Geneva will watch his innings with great interest.
Bangladesh’s ace may well be Mahmudullah. With Shakib and Tamim Iqbal in the top three, the middle order is ripe for exposure to a hostile opening spell from the opposition. Mahmudullah, the man I once described as the perfect housewife, has grown into the calming middle order general, a role assigned to Ashraful until puberty struck 4 years ago.
Respectable total is spelled ‘Mahmudullah with a red-inker’, and his gentle offspin plus perfect bedroom manners may well decide at least one match this tournament. A special (sick) note for Mashrafe Mortaza, truly a very fine bowler but I will declare my undying love for Stuart Broad if he bowls his full allocation of four overs in every game.
Bangladesh have lost 75 of a possible 90 wickets in their WT20 matches to date, including being bowled out on four occasions. Consider that with the fact that they average a score of 135 in their 9 innings, it is no wonder the superior bowling attack has not been able to win more than one game so far.
You can bowl as brilliantly as you like, but even in T20 you need partnerships and you need wickets in hand to be able to influence the direction of a game. Until Bangladesh can move on from their club style batting collapses they are oh so prone to, it is difficult to see when they will be able to sustain a run at the title over 7 matches.
Bangladesh have the resources, the experience and the odd loose screw to fumble and hyperventilate their way to the title. Equally, they have the ability to go down in a blaze of ignominy after the second round of group matches without a win to their name. As Mahela Jayawardene so eloquently put it after a SLPL match, “You take it one game at a time, in T20 anything can happen” (I was flaccid for a week after I heard Mahela say this).
With everything to play for and a heavy dose of carnage in 40 overs, Bangladesh are probably one of the last sides I would want to face. This could well be their time.
written by halftracker
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