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Bangladesh: The Tigers are on the prowl

Updated: Jun 15, 2019

Minnows no more. The Tigers are ready to roar at The World Cup.

Bangladesh players celebrate their massive win over England in The 2015 World Cup. Image: The Guardian

The Royal Bengal Tiger - the apex predator in the Indian sub-continent - is the national animal of the huge nation, cricket powerhouse India, and its smaller neighbour, cricketing rival Bangladesh.

While the big cat is revered in both nations, the Bangladeshis have taken their admiration for the wild cat to another level. They boldly display it as a symbol on their uniform shirts and the cricket team has taken to being referred to as such.

However, apart from having them emblazoned on their shirts and being referenced to, they have lacked the characteristics and traits of the famed hunter.

Time and again they would spring a surprise like defeating Pakistan in The World Cup in ’99 and Australia in The NatWest Series in 2005, but these victories were few and far between. They were constantly improving but did not have the results to show. Even after being granted Test status all the way back in the year 2000, Bangladesh was rarely taken seriously by the big guns of the game. They were the whipping boys of the sport and the status quo wasn’t about to change anytime soon.

But all that changed, when in the 2007 edition of The World Cup, they put on an inspired performance to knock out one of the main contenders for the title – India, in the very first round and then defeat another favourite - South Africa. The underdogs had finally turned giant killers.

Bangladesh celebrate a wicket in their shocking defeat of India in The 2007 World Cup. Source: ESPNCricinfo.com

While they continued to struggle against the bigger teams (they managed to beat Zimbabwe in 2009 and New Zealand in an ODI in 2013), they continued to make their presence felt in every World Cup since, defeating England on both occasions, first at home in 2011 and then in Australia in 2015.

They also started winning more against the bigger teams; recording wins against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. But their confidence got a shot in the arm when they defeated both Australia (2017) and England (2016) at home, in Test matches. In fact they defeated England for the first time in a Test series and narrowly lost the ODI series 2-1.

They began to exhibit more self-belief and continued to make great strides in the International arena. They defeated a much stronger Pakistan team in The Asia Cup in 2018 and reached the final before narrowly losing out to India off the final ball of the tournament.

They continued their stellar form in 2019 by winning their first ever tri-nations series, also involving Ireland and The West Indies, when they defeated the latter in a rain-affected final.

For long considered the minnows of world cricket, Bangladesh are finally ready to step into the spotlight. They come into The World Cup brimming with confidence.

The tigers are on the prowl and we look at the threat that they will present in England:

Experienced Outfit

The team has a core set of players who have been together for sometime now and have been part of the sweet success that Bangladesh has tasted in recent times. Led by their captain and senior pro Mashrafe Mortaza, the team comprises a wealth of experience in the form of star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, dynamic opener Tamim Iqbal, wicket-keeper batsman Mushfiqur Rahim, middle order bat Mahmudullah and paceman Rubel Hossain. These experienced players will be at the heart of Bangladesh’s quest for the trophy.

Talented Youngsters

Combining with the experienced hands are a bunch of talented youngsters starting with opener & wicket-keeper Liton Das, who set the Asia Cup final in 2018 on fire with a sublime century, followed by batsmen Mohammad Mithun, Mosaddek Hossain, Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman. Mustafizur Rahman, with his unbelievable variety and off-spinner Mehidy Hasan complete the group of impressive talent that the Bangladeshis will showcase at the event.

Belief, Desire and Skill

Every team participating in The World Cup, or in the sport itself, has the desire to do well. But merely having the desire does not guarantee success. That becomes a possibility only when desire is matched by the belief and the skills that the situation demands. Bangladesh has always had the desire, but for the first time in their history they have the belief and the skills as well. This makes them a very dangerous proposition indeed.

Bangladesh will once again look to make an impact at The World Cup. Image courtesy: ICC-cricket.png

Whether they have the firepower to win it all and cope with the intense pressure when the heat is really on is the million-dollar question. They have come up short several times in the big moments and they will have to overcome these nerves if they are to go deep into the tournament, let alone win it all. A top 4 finish looks like the best-case scenario. But didn’t unfancied Sri Lanka go on to win the Cup in ’96, defeating more highly favoured teams? (Granted SL did it mostly at home and Bangladesh have to do it away)

One thing’s for sure though – The Tigers will be on the prowl at The World Cup and we might yet hear them roar!

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