The Bangladesh cricket team has completed its one-day international fixtures in 2015 when returned victorious in three-match series against South Africa in Chittagong on Wednesday. The year is marked with few historic successes for the Tigers that helped them shed the tags of being perennial underdogs in world cricket to emerge as a force to be reckoned with. With them scheduled to play their next ODI seven months later against Zimbabwe in February it is worth looking back at the year when they made their maiden World Cup quarter-finals appearance and won three successive series against Pakistan, India and South Africa respectively.
The Tigers had had some sporadic success in the past too but the missing link between previous achievements and their present run is consistency, which left some of the powerhouses in world cricket stunned. When they ousted England in the World Cup, it was dubbed merely as an upset. Even their 3-0 sweep over Pakistan earned little plaudits outside Bangladesh due to the erratic nature of Pakistan team. The world started taking a serious look at the Tigers when they beat a full strength Indian side by 2-1 in a series in June. Still they had some point to prove with South Africa arriving later last month with fresh mindset following their World Cup semi-final exit. It was believed to the toughest test for the Tigers given South Africans are thoroughly professional and have a decent record of doing well in Indian sub-continent. The Proteas underlined their status as overwhelming favourites with the crushing Twenty20 International wins and a stroll in the first ODI of the series. Bangladesh, true to their reputation of an emerging side, bounced back in the next two matches to leave the visitors stunned. The Tigers won both the matches in ruthless manner with 134 balls and 83 balls to spare which indicated how dominating they were. Here are some elements that catapulted them to success throughout this stunning year:
Tigers’ recent performance became possible because of their unified effort that is believed to be the hallmark of a good side. Unlike the past, when Bangladesh’s cricket revolved around individual performances, the team led by mercurial Mashrafee bin Murtaza, put an emphasis on collective effort. It is also evident in their statistics of the year which show three batsmen – Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim and Sakib al Hasan – scored between 600 to 700 runs and four bowlers Sakib al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain and Masharfee bin Murtaza – picked 19 to 17 wickets each in this year so far.
Bangladesh are known for unveiling raw talents but hardly they could do so before like this year. The arrival of Soumya Sarkar gave Bangladesh positivity at the top of the order while Mustafizur Rahman provided the X-factor that was missing with the ball since Mashrafee lost his pace and transformed himself into a medium pacer only. Soumya’s arrival relegated Tamim Iqbal to a role of an anchor making them one of the most fearsome opening pairs in the world cricket in ODIs. Mustafiz already proved he is not just a one-series wonder making vital contribution in two wins over Proteas after he off-cut his way to history against India.
07The World Cup in Australia-New Zealand left a positive influence on Bangladesh cricket after they managed their way through to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. They were expected to beat only Afghanistan and Scotland but they did more than that ousting England from the group stage and giving New Zealand a good run for their money in their final group match. They also dominated India at phases before some poor umpiring decisions robbed them of their win.
Bangladesh abandoned their strategy of relying too much on spin bowling and rather backed their pace bowlers on a regular basis that earned them rich dividends. The World Cup gave them the belief that their pacers can also win them the matches as they did in the tournament. Mashrafee bin Murtaza, Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed formed one of the most lethal combinations in the World Cup that left other sides rocking. Tigers also fielded three pacers against Pakistan and got overwhelming success. Mustafizur Rahman was added to the pace trio against India and the result was there for everyone to see. Bangladesh momentarily got back to the traditional spin formula against South Africa in two Twenty20 Internationals and in the first ODI and got whipped by more than worthy an opponent. The Tigers felt their mistakes immediately and started backing their pacers in the second and third ODIs again to get some outstanding results as Mashrafee bin Muratza, Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain all made a vital contribution to their maiden series win over South Africa.
-With New Age input