Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Preview : New look Bangladesh face stiff challenge in Twenty20 World Cup

Khondaker Mirazur Rahman
Bangladesh's last World Cup appearance in South Africa brings back some dreadful memories in the mind of the Tigers' fans. Bangladesh cricket hit rock bottom at World Cup 2003 held in South Africa. The campaign started with a shock loss against lowly Canada and the demise was capped by a sound thumping at the hand of another associate Kenya at Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.

Bangladesh have effectively put those bitter memories behind in the last world cup and finished seventh defeating India and South Africa and emerged as a surprise package of world cricket. When Bangladesh will take the field to face West Indies in the very ground in which they ended their infamous World Cup 2003 campaign, they will definitely try to forget past results and extract confidence from latest outings.

Bangladesh cricket has gone through a complete overhaul in recent times and none of the current squad except skipper Mohammad Ashraful and Alok Kapali is carrying the grief of 2003. Bangladesh have emerged as an exciting team full of exuberance and agility of youth and the selectors did no harm to the reputation by naming a young team with an average age of 22 for the maiden version of Twenty20 World Cup.

Bangladesh is placed in group A along with host South Africa and West Indies. According to the format of the game, the Tigers need to win at least one game to have any chance to progress to the second round, and most cricket pundits believe Bangladesh have the firepower to outshine their group opponents in their day.

Undoubtedly Bangladesh have the potential but their transformation of ability into performance is a rare commodity. Since their heroics in the last World Cup Bangladesh cricket is going through a sorry affair and departure of Dave Whatmore hasn’t made things any better, if not worse. Bangladesh is yet to find a replacement for Dave Whatmore, and interim coach Shaun Williams has done little to raise the standard of the team. Mohammad Ashraful, the new Bangladesh skipper, is yet to find his feet and hasn’t done anything significant to inspire his colleagues to perform as a team and come out of the transitional blue period.

Bangladesh’s success in the inaugural Twenty20 world cup will depend on their ability to regroup and perform as a team. It’s true they finished the warm up campaign with 3 wins out of 5 outings, but they were carried on the shoulder of a rookie player and the rest repeated their poor showings. Bangladesh group oppositions, South Africa and West Indies, have considerable success in cricket’s spectator friendly version and it will take more than an individual effort to get past the stiff challenge.

Bangladesh batting will rely on the dazzling display of young Nazimuddin

Bangladesh batting will rely on the dazzling display of young Nazimuddin © Cricinfo

In batting, the talent of Tamim Iqbal, rookie Nazimuddin, Aftab Ahmed and skipper Mohammad Ashraful should be enough to create some fireworks at Johannesburg and Cape Town to post challenging scores against their group opponents. The likes of Alok Kapali, Farhad Reza and Mashrafe Mortaza can play a supporting role if the top order can persist with their onslaught. Twenty20 isn’t simply a game of stroke play, it’s more about persistent stroke play and Bangladesh’s talented yet fragile top order more than often fail to continue their aggressive batting leaving too much work for the tail enders. And in most cases Bangladesh tail-enders hardly realize their responsibility with bat except some occasional blitzkrieg display by Mashrafe Mortaza.

Bangladesh invented the art of attacking with left arm army in West Indies and often choked the opposition in the middle resulting in two famous wins against India and South Africa. Bangladesh will be again relying on their left arm army where Syed Rasel is stepping in to compensate the absence of veteran Mohammad Rafiq. Rasel has already established him as one of the best new ball bowler of modern cricket despite his lack of pace, and his style of bowling will be suited in early summer condition of South Africa. While Rasel possesses the unique ability to contain batsman, Bangladesh bowling mainstay left arm spinner Abdur Razzak has got the uncanny ability to pick up regular wickets without being generous with the ball.

Except Razzak and Rasel, Bangladesh bowling lacks penetration to pose any serious threat to their group opponents. Lack of form of Bangladesh pace spearhead Mashrafe Mortaza further worsened the scenario and skipper Mohammad Ashraful’s proactive bowling is hardly making the situation any better. Having said that, Ashraful has little choice as Alok Kapli’s leg spin remained erratic over the years, and Farhad Reza is still learning the trick of getting movement off the pith which is the key to success in Twenty20 cricket.

Bangladesh’s enthusiastic presence on the field can be crucial in saving valuable runs in this shorter version of cricket, but fielders have to capitalize on opportunities offered by opposition which they fail more than often. Catches win matches is an old proverb of cricket and the butter fingered presence of Tigers on the field resulted in ignominious loss against Kenya in the warm up match. Bangladesh must do better than their recent past in capitalizing on opportunities as a single batsman can destroy the opposition in Twenty20, and there is hardly any chance to regroup.

Bangladesh have raised the expectations of its well wishers after the historic success in the last world cup but failed to live up to the expectation. Despite the recent failures, Bangladesh is one of the most exciting teams of the Twenty20 world cup and they are expected to entertain the proteas crowd. Now to make it more than entertainment against oppositions with proven match-winners, the young Tigers must get their acts right and perform as a team. Otherwise, Twenty20 world cup will be yet another learning experience for a talented team who achieved lot less than their potential.