2015 has seen the rise of a new cricketing nation-Bangladesh, in the ODI version of the game. Bangladesh, once considered minnows are now a force to be reckoned with on home soil.
After a disappointing 2014, the Tigers managed a series win against Zimbabwe to boost their morale prior to the 2015 ICC World Cup at Australia and New Zealand. Since then, the Tigers never looked back again!
They cruised past Afghanistan and Scotland before eliminating one of the powerhouses of cricket, England to qualify for their maiden world cup quarterfinals.
Their heroic journey ended abruptly at the hands of India at the MCG, a match mostly remembered by the spectators due to umpiring controversy.
What followed that was a dream run for the nation. Bangladesh hosted Pakistan after the world cup in April. The Tigers had registered only one win against Pakistan before the series, that too back in 1999.
They came closer to winning against Pakistan on a few occasions, but somehow fumbled away their chances.
However, this series was different. Veteran opener Tamim Iqbal registered back to back centuries to lead the team towards their first ODI series win against Pakistan.
Emerging opener Soumya Sarkar scored a ton to lead his team towards victory in the 3rd ODI as Bangladesh whitewashed Pakistan for the first time in the history of cricket.
Hungry to achieve more, the Tigers hosted India in June. India sent their full squad knowing well what the Tigers were capable of doing. But they were undone by one Mustafizur Rahman, who decimated India singlehandedly, picking up 11 wickets in his first two games. The mighty Indian batting lineup crumbled at his cutters as he cruised the nation towards another historic series win.
Next up for the challenge were the Proteas. The world cup semifinalists had only lost once against Bangladesh, that too back in 2007. Bangladesh required one win out of the three games to qualify for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy in 2017.
South Africa started the ODI series well, beating Bangladesh by 8 wickets in their 1st match. But the tigers showed their gritty mentality and resilience as they bounced back from the defeat to win the next two games to clinch the series as well as confirm their berth for the ICC Champions Trophy! Soumya Sarkar rose up to the grand occasion, as his hard-hitting batting led the team towards victory on both occasions. He was assisted well by the spinners Nasir and Shakib in bowling.
The series win against South Africa also gave Bangladesh their fourth consecutive ODI series win on home soil. As skipper Mashrafe remarked after the series win against India, Bangladesh are currently playing “fearless brand of cricket’ and are a side capable of beating any team on any given day! They also showed the audacity of fielding four pacers on Asian pitch when Mashrafe, Taskin, Rubel and Mustafizur bowled against India. The sheer quality of pacers as well as Nasir’s off spin coupled with Shakib’s leg spin gives Bangladesh a plethora of options in the bowling department.
The batsmen, on the other hand, were ready to take advantage of the destruction led by the bowlers. Tamim and Soumya finally proved themselves as the dependable openers for Bangladesh. Mushfiq and Nasir provided the support required from the middle order if any sudden collapse occured. In Shakib and Sabbir, Bangladesh has two finishers capable of winning matches on any occasion. Besides, the nation has not forgotten the heroics of Mahmudullah, who scored successive tons for Bangladesh in the world cup.
Overall, Bangladesh has the potential to become one of the top four ODI teams in near future. On home soil, they are quite an invincible side, ready to take on any team and hand them a humbling loss. Much of the credit goes to their head coach, Chandrika Hathurusingha and bowling coaches Heath Streak and Ruwan Kalpage. As a captain, Mashrafe has influenced the side like none other. His never-give-up attitude has enabled the team to go for the impossible and achieve their dreams successfully.
It will be exciting to see how the team progresses from this stage and translates this performance on foreign soil as well as in other formats of the game.