Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes hails ‘magnificent 11’ as hosts chase T20I series
Bangladesh beat West Indies 2-1 for the second time in 2018. ©AFP

Steve Rhodes, the head coach of Bangladesh, believes that the current team is more than the five pillars – Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Mortaza and Mahmudullah – and that recent success has put this crop of players on the road to sustained success.

In 2018, Bangladesh have reached the final of two tournaments – the Nidahas Trophy and Asia Cup -beat West Indies away in ODIs and T20Is, and now at home have defeated Zimbabwe in Tests and ODIs and West Indies in Tests and ODIs. The win in the third ODI agains West Indies at Sylhet this week makes this the second best year in ODIs for Bangladesh after the 14 they won in 2009.

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Ahead of the first T20I with top-ranked West Indies, Rhodes singled out the offspinning allrounder Mehidy Hasan Miraz, the left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman, the batting pair of Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar and wicketkeeper-batsman Liton Das as players with a huge impact on Bangladesh’s fortunes.

“The big five gets mentioned a lot. And I respect them and I think they are wonderful players. But I’m so pleased that Bangladesh possesses more than the big five,” Rhodes told reporters on Sunday. “You’ve only got to look at Mehidy and his season so far and what he’s been doing for a while now. A young fellow who’s a great allrounder, good fielder, he can bat well and he’s a wonderful spin bowler who bowls well at any time. He plays all formats and is a great example.

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“The other one is Fizz [Mustafizur Rahman]. I mean Fizz doesn’t seem to get a mention, in my eyes he is one of the best death bowlers in the world, one of the best one-day bowlers in the world. Liton Das, he’s got crucial runs for us in the Asia Cup final. Look at Soumya’s couple of innings he has played recently. Imrul in the one-dayers against Zimbabwe was outstanding. So I think we’ve got quite a few of the guys now who are standing up. Let’s call it the magnificent 11.”

Steve Rhodes has hailed Mehidy Hasan Miraz for his all-round skills.
Steve Rhodes has hailed Mehidy Hasan Miraz for his all-round skills. @ Twitter

The main area of concern for Rhodes, who took over as coach a couple months ago, was the level of Bangladesh’s fielding.

“At the moment, the Bangladeshi players are not the greatest athletes in the world if you look at some – like the specimen of the West Indies players. On our day we can field extremely well. We want to try and get a bit more consistency in our fielding,” he said.

West Indies are the reigning ICC World T20 winners and ranked seventh in T20Is, three spots above Bangladesh. On the eve of the first T20I in Sylhet, Rhodes was hopeful of Bangladesh punching above their weight and closing out the series with more success.

“We played well in the one-dayers and we should take a lot of confidence from that. We played well in the Test series, and that was fantastic,” he said. “We want the players to beat the West Indies in T20. They’re ranked above us. They are world champions. We surprised them in Florida and surprised ourselves as well. But the plan is to go out there and win the series.

“We desperately want to do it and it’s going to be a lot tougher than the other two series because this is the format West Indies excel at. We will give it our best shot and hopefully we will be smiling at the end of it. Whatever happens we are pleased with the way our progress is going at the moment.”