Bangladesh, ranked seventh in the latest ICC ODI Team rankings, began their World Cup participation from 1999 and so far their best displays were in the 2007 World Cup, where they reached the Super Eight and in 2015, where they reached the quarter-finals. While the team has caused some upsets at the world stage, their performances largely have been underwhelming.
Ahead of the team’s departure for a warm-up tournament in Ireland, skipper Mashrafe Mortaza called on the country’s fans to douse their expectations for the World Cup and avoid putting unwanted pressure on the team. After Bangladesh’s appearance at the Champions Trophy semi-finals two years ago and the Asia Cup final last year, national hopes of a winning streak at the World Cup have skyrocketed. Bangladesh are undoubtedly a force to reckon with in limited-overs’ format, especially when it comes to 50-over cricket and even upset the West Indies three times in the past month to win their first one-day series final in the Ireland Tri-nation Series.
As they showed in the Champions Trophy, the team is capable of beating higher-ranked sides in big tournaments under pressure. If there is less chaos around them off the field and they can beat one or two of the top ranked sides, a spot in the semi-final isn’t an impossible dream for this improving side.
Can they take the next step and contend for the title? The 2019 edition will be Bangladesh’s sixth World Cup and they are no longer the minnows they were when they made their tournament debut 20 years ago. Their ICC ODI ranking exemplifies their improvement- the Tigers are above two-time World Cup champions West Indies and 1996 winners Sri Lanka. Eight players in their squad played in the 2015 tournament, where they made the quarter-finals after an epic win over England that sparked a revolutionary overhaul in English one-day cricket. The Tigers have at least one win against every World Cup opponent and while English conditions might be vastly different from those at home, in former England gloveman and head coach Steve Rhodes they will have a well of local knowledge at their disposal. Can Bangladesh take another giant step forward and make the semi-finals? Time will tell.
Before the action begins, Bangladesh play two official warm-up games that give them the opportunity to fine-tune their playing XI. These matches are different in the sense that the teams are free to play all 15 of their squad to experiment with their lineups and test players for fitness issues. Both games are at 03.00pm and will be telecast on Star Sports and streamed live on Hotstar.
Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan (vc), Mohammad Mithun, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Jayed
The giant-killers of world cricket, Bangladesh have grown in strength and stature in the past few years. Packs a bunch of talented players who can turn the tables on any team.
Strength: The experience of several battle-hardened veterans complement the exuberance of youngsters. All-rounders give balance to the team which had shocked Australia in the global event
Weakness: The bowling attack is hamstrung by the absence of specialist wrist-spinners. Despite their talent, the batting line-up is fragile, especially against quality fast bowling
With an experienced and versatile squad, this is the format the Tigers enjoy the most and it is clearly evident from their performances in ODIs since their first appearance at the knock-out stages of the last World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
They bank heavily on starting well with bat and ball and usually want one of their top three batsmen to stay until the 35th to 40th over, before letting their experienced middle order blast through the last 10 overs. The side doesn’t have a designated big-hitter so rely heavily on set batsmen.
Bangladesh are confident that their bowling can contain sides to 250 to 270 and if they bat first, they are likely to set around 280 to 320 runs, a score that they have defended successfully 12 out of 18 times batting first since the 2015 World Cup.
Recent form too is on their side having rallied after being trounced in New Zealand in the ODI and Test series in March. It was a tour, of course, which ended with the horrifying pictures broadcast of the team fleeing through Hagley Park after hearing shooting while on a bus only metres away from the Al Noor terrorist attack in Christchurch.
In 2018, Bangladesh were the second best Asian team in 50-over cricket after India in terms of win-loss ratio amongst the full-members of ICC. The cherry on the cake was their campaign in the Asia Cup where, with a depleted side, they qualified for the final beating Sri Lanka, Afghanistan as well as a much-fancied Pakistan along the way. They came tantalisingly close to outclassing India in the title clash only to lose on the final ball of the match.
They rely on their captain Mashrafe Mortaza’s man-management skills, on Shakib Al Hasan’s big-game persona, and Tamim Iqbal’s sense of responsibility. They also have plenty of talent in their line-up, with Mustafizur Rahman one of the most skilled pace bowlers in world cricket. Though the 15-member squad for the World Cup primarily revolves around the fab-five of Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, and Mahmudullah, there are plenty of talented youngsters who add depth in quality in this line-up. The selectors have packed the squad with a lot of all-round options, which provides flexibility to this team. Overall, the contingent seems to have a perfect blend of youth and experienced cricketers.
BANGLADESH AT THE WORLD CUP
Bangladesh first appeared in a World Cup in 1999 as an associate team and subsequently earned Test Status in 2000. Their highest achievements in World Cups include reaching the Super Eight stage in 2007 and the Quarter Final in 2015.
Played – 33 | Won – 11 | Lost – 20 | Tied/No Result – 2 | Win percentage – 33.33%
1999 – out in group stage 2003 – out in group stage 2007 – Super Eight 2011 – out in group stage 2015 – quarter final
– Bangladesh were not eligible to participate in the first World Cup in 1975 since they weren’t an ICC member. The Tigers couldn’t qualify for the next five World Cups from 1979 to 1996
– Bangladesh exited the group stage on three occasions – in 1999, 2003 and 2011. They reached the Super Eights in 2007
– In the last edition, in 2015, they reached the quarters
– Bangladesh’s highest ever innings score in the World Cup came in 2015 when they amassed 322/4 against Scotland at Nelson. Their lowest total of 58 came against West Indies in Dhaka during the 2011 edition
– Mahmudullah (128* vs New Zealand, 2015) has the highest individual score by a Bangladeshi batsman. Interestingly, he is the only player from Bangladesh with two centuries under his belt in the World Cup
– Shafiul Islam (4/21 vs Ireland) produced the best bowling performance in 2011. Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan and Rubel Hossain are other bowlers to bag four wickets in a match
– Shakib has been the leading performer for Bangladesh in the World Cup. He has featured in 21 World Cup matches for Bangladesh and has picked up a total of 23 wickets with a best of 4/55. The southpaw has 540 runs with the bat including five fifties
– Mushfiqur Rahim is the only other batsman besides Shakib to score 500-plus runs in the World Cup for Bangladesh. He has also hit the most sixes (8) for Bangladesh in the event
– Tamim Iqbal has smashed the most fours (58). He has also taken nine catches for the Tigers
– Mahmudullah and Rahim’s 141-run stand versus England in 2015 is the side’s best partnership
Bangladesh certainly have a tough schedule at the start of their campaign. Losing the first three matches, which is very likely, can ruin their chances of causing any upsets later in the tournament. However, if they can manage at least one win of the three, they are likely to get the better of Sri Lanka, West Indies, Afghanistan and even Pakistan.
The Tigers have arguably picked their strongest ODI squad ever for the upcoming World Cup and it won’t be a surprise if they go on to make a few big boys sweat.
Bangladesh kick off their campaign against South Africa on 02nd June at The Oval in London.
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