Spin­ning to Suc­cess

Has cricket in Bangladesh come of age?

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Faizan Us­mani The writer is a mem­ber of the staff.

Hav­ing beaten such sides as Pak­istan, In­dia and South Africa in ODIs, the Bangladesh cricket team is re­ally com­ing up. Since its ar­rival in in­ter­na­tional cricket in 1998-99, the Bangladeshis had strug­gled against the top teams but then their hard work is now pay­ing off and they are per­form­ing well against the top-ranked sides with con­sis­tency and ma­tu­rity in all de­part­ments of the game.

No won­der, they man­aged to fin­ish 7th among the top 10 teams in the ICC ODI Team Rank­ings, which also helped them qual­ify for the ICC Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy 2017 which is to be played only among the eight

high­est-ranked ODI sides, while teams like Pak­istan and West Indies are still find­ing ways to qual­ify for the event. This shows that Bangladesh cricket is mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

Usu­ally, sub­con­ti­nen­tal sides rely on their spin­ners, es­pe­cially when play­ing on their home grounds as pitches in this part of the world are dry and mainly sup­port spin bowlers. Com­pared to the bouncy tracks found Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Eng­land and South Africa, fast bowlers don’t find much seam or swing when play­ing in the sub­con­ti­nent in coun­tries like In­dia, Pak­istan Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,.

The Bangladeshis have recharged their pace bat­tery with fast bowlers who are not only young and spir­ited, but also have im­mense tal­ent. This refers more specif­i­cally to young guns like Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hos­sain and Mustafizur Rah­man who have emerged as game chang­ers for their coun­try.

The 20-year old Taskin Ahmed, for in­stance, has taken 21 wick­ets in 14 one-day matches so far with a strike rate of 29.1, and that too against teams like In­dia, South Africa and Pak­istan. Rubel Hos­sain, 25, rightarm fast bowler, has picked up 87 wick­ets in 67 ODI matches with a strike rate of 35. And when it comes to an emerg­ing star like Mustafizur Rah­man, 19, left-arm medium, the young lad has pro­duced even more as­ton­ish­ing fig­ures to this point.

In re­cent per­for­mances, the Bangladeshi side has dis­played a fast and steady at­tack which is con­sis­tent, ac­cu­rate and able to de­stroy any bat­ting lineup in lim­ited overs cricket. They may not be as fast as Dale Steyn or as ex­pe­ri­enced as Sir Curtly Am­brose but what makes the Bangladeshi pace at­tack threat­en­ing is their ‘ fresh­ness,’ sug­gest­ing they are here to stay for long and will surely be­come more lethal and sharp with time.

The fu­ture of Bangladesh looks bright and promis­ing, though con­sid­er­ing their over­all record in all for­mats of the game, they still need to do a lot more to jump the ICC rank­ings and be counted among the top 3 teams. Bangladesh has per­formed com­par­a­tively well on its home grounds com­pared play­ing out­side the coun­try.

The Bangladesh record in Test cricket is be­low the stan­dards of any Test play­ing na­tion and they have yet to mark their first vic­tory against any Test play­ing side, ex­cept Zim­babwe and West Indies. Their win against the West Indies in 2009 was more due to the strike called by the 13 reg­u­lar West In­dian play­ers over con­tract dis­putes.

Given that Bangladesh at­tained the sta­tus of a Test play­ing coun­try in 2000, the team can be termed as the most pam­pered side of in­ter­na­tional cricket. It has been con­tin­u­ously en­joy­ing Test sta­tus for 16 years with­out hav­ing any­thing to show by way of per­for­mance at the com­pet­i­tive Test level. Play­ing the ma­jor­ity of their matches at home venues, the play­ing con­di­tions for the Bangladesh team are al­ways ideal. They have never been posed with the kind of chal­lenges faced by the Pak­istan team, which con­tin­u­ally com­petes with the other sides away from home and is de­prived of in­ter­na­tional cricket at home.

The good news is that Bangladesh has started show­ing good re­sults in both the ODI and T20 for­mats. What they need now is to keep up the mo­men­tum be­cause they still have a long way to go as a top crick­et­ing na­tion, es­pe­cially in Test cricket. They also have to show that they are as good play­ing away from home as they are on their home grounds.

The Bangladesh record in Test cricket is be­low the stan­dards of any Test play­ing na­tion and they have yet to mark their first vic­tory against any Test play­ing side.

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