Bangladesh recently won an ODI series against New Zealand 3-0 and showed sparks of brilliance in the Test series © AFP
Bangladesh, who were earlier considered as the whipping boys of international cricket, have undergone a massive transformation after some solid performances in recent years have seen them catapult from being a bottom rung team to one that is considered worthy of competing against. The ‘Tigers’ as they are popularly known have come a long way since their debut in the Dhaka Test against India in 2000 and if their performances against New Zealand last year are anything to go by then Bangladesh are surely opponents who have gone up a notch in terms of their cricketing abilities. Vineet Varma lists out the players who have been the main architects of Bangladesh’s recent run of success and have ensured that the team has a bright and shiny future in the years to come by.
The date was October 29, 2013 and it was New Zealand who were playing Bangladesh in a One-Day International (ODI) game at Dhaka in the first of three matches. The home side had scored a competitive 265 in their stipulated 50 overs and had left the Kiwis chasing the stiff target in front of a partisan home crowd.
What followed next was a definite treat to the eyes of Bangladeshi cricket fans as their team shot out the Kiwis for a measly 162 in just 29.5 overs, thus achieving a memorable win in the process. The star performers in that match were skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and Naeem Islam who had scored 90 and 84 with the bat respectively and of course the impressive medium-pacer Rubel Hossain, who sparkled with the ball as he picked up six for 26 in just 5.5 overs.
Though the win sparked huge celebrations in Bangladesh, there was more to come as the ‘Tigers’ outclassed New Zealand in the remaining two matches by 40 runs and four wickets respectively and swept the ODI series 3-0. The main performers for Bangladesh with the bat were Shamshur Rahman and Islam, who averaged 60.50 and 54.33 with the bat and of course Hossain and Sohag Gazi who finished with seven and five wickets in the series respectively.
If the series against New Zealand is anything to go by then Bangladesh have a solid batsman in the form of Islam who tormented the Kiwi bowlers with his impeccable shot selection and timing throughout. Though Islam cannot be called as a ‘late bloomer’ at 27, his performance against New Zealand is still a good indication that he has a lot more to contribute to his side and has many a number of years left in him to wield his willow.
Even Rahman, the best Bangladeshi batsman against the Kiwis, looks promising enough to lead the charge for his side in the coming future, and with him being only 25, he can be considered amongst the young and talented brigade of current Bangladeshi batsmen.
Coming to the bowling department and it is Hossain and Gazi who look like the future of the Bangladeshi bowling, at least in the ODIs. If Hossain tormented the Kiwis with his nagging line and length, off-spinner Gazi, apart from the third ODI at Fatullah, where he went for an expensive one for 67, surely looks like a class act for the Bangladeshis. Hossain and Gazi had an economy rate of 5.32 and 5.26 respectively throughout the series which is an indication that both bowlers have it in them to lead the Bangladeshi bowling to greater heights.
Switching over to the longer format of the game and though Bangladesh were unable to produce a result in any of the two Test matches against New Zealand, the most impressive batsman was Mominul Haque, who averaged a mammoth 188, with two tons to his credit. If his 181 in the first Test at Chittagong, studded with 27 fours was a sign of Bangladesh’s determination to hold their own against the Kiwis, then his 126 not-out in the second Test at Mirpur was even more impressive considering that it came at a situation when Bangladesh needed someone to hold fort and grind out a draw against the threatening Kiwi pacers. For the record Mominul is only 22, and if the series against New Zealand is anything to go by, then the southpaw looks set to lead the charge for Bangladesh in future Test matches to come by.
Gazi and Shakib Al Hasan shone with the cherry for the Bangladeshi bowlers as they ended up with averages of 29.12 and 30.14 respectively. Gazi in particular looked the most impressive, as his sharp off-breaks had helped him earn six for 77 in the Chittagong Test. Gazi is a young Turk at 22, and forms the core of the Bangladeshi bowlers ready to take up the responsibility for the team in the matches to come in the near future.
So, after an impressive display against the Kiwis that led to wide spread applause for the Bangladesh, this writer has come to the conclusion that the above mentioned players are the ones that are going to form the heart of the Bangladeshi side in the years to come by and definitely look ready to play their parts in raising their side to even further glory in the international arena.
And though the early signs of the current team coming of age against more experienced and illustrious opponents have come in the series against the Kiwis, this writer certainly hopes that the ‘Tigers’ would go one better and even win a tour overseas which may just herald the start of the meteoric rise of cricket in Bangladesh.
(Vineet Varma is a writer at Cricket Country. He can be followed @Vinfire19)