Looking back at Bangladesh’s World Cup

Bangladesh’s world cup campaign has been a roller-coaster ride. The essence of this ride actually goes back to the year 2015. Before then, winning a single match against any strong test playing nation used to be our criteria for success. And when those wins came around, waves of people would take to the streets in celebration.

The start of a new era

2015 marked the nation’s first-ever quarter-final appearance in world cups. This milestone was only the start. What followed were three consecutive series wins against Pakistan, India and South Africa. Stars like Mustafizur Rahman came on to the scene, who had obliterated the Indian batting with back to back 5 wicket-hauls and was the key to winning the series.

And so, 2015 changed the very criteria of success for Bangladesh. It was finally about victory. The next four years leading up to the ICC World Cup 2019 included test victories against England and Australia, getting agonizingly close to winning the Asia cup in 2018, making it to the semi-final of ICC Champion’s Trophy and registering a series victory overseas against West Indies.

And after becoming the champions of the Tri-Nation series held just before the world cup, the confidence grew and expectations became high. For the first time, Bangladesh entered an ICC Cricket World Cup to actually contest the title.

Read more: The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

The journey of CWC 2019

The high expectations soared even more as Bangladesh started off by defeating the South African side. What followed was a loss to New Zealand in a very close match. Although the defeat was a bump in the path, the hope was still strong. However in the next match, England had amassed a massive total of 386 runs, and Bangladesh was never really in the game.

Despite the loss, we got a fantastic performance from Shakib Al Hasan who had scored 121 during the chase and became the top scorer of the tournament at that time.

The match against West Indies was the highest point for Bangladesh.

They successfully chased down the huge total of 321 in just 42 overs with 7 wickets in hand. Shakib Al Hasan became the man of the match with 2 wickets and an unbeaten 124 of only 99 balls. The back to back centuries scored by the all-rounder and the dominant victory over Windies once again ignited the hopes of victory. The road to the semi-finals started to look very inviting once more.

What happened afterwards is what the fans of Bangladesh cricket are bitterly familiar with. Playing well till the end but just not well enough to win. Bangladesh fought hard against Australia and India with a bunch of stand-out individual performances. But the strength of those two sides were just too much. Bangladesh’s scores of 333 and 286 while chasing 381 and 314 respectively, left a feeling of “only if we played a little bit better” to every Bangladesh supporter who was watching. The win against Afghanistan only served as a consolation.

Read more: First-ever Bangladeshi female commentator: Shathira Jakir Jessy

Magnificent Shakib and other disappointments

Another consolation was Shakib Al Hasan’s fantastic performance. He scored 2 hundreds, 5 fifties and a score of 41 in his 8 matches and became the first-ever to score 600 runs and take 10 wickets in a world cup edition. He was also the first player to achieve 600 runs in the group stages of a world cup.

Despite his exceptional batting performance in every single match, the others weren’t able to support him quite enough.

A few of the young players had performed very well in the likes of Liton Das and Mohammad Saifuddin but the rest of the team left a lot of gap between their performance and the expectations.

Two fielding incidents are at the top of the list of disappointments. In the close game against New Zealand, Mushfiqur Rahim had run Ross Taylor out who was only on 4. However, in the replay, we could see that Mushfiqur had knocked the bails of before catching the ball. The run-out became obsolete. Ross Taylor went on to score 82 runs and was the man of the match.

And in the match against India, Tamim Iqbal dropped a simple catch of Rohit Sharma who was at 9. With a new life, Rohit scored a hundred and just like Taylor, became man of the match. These two missed out wicket opportunities turned out to be match deciders.

Read more: Meet the street children from Bangladesh who are playing in the world cup semis!

Bent, not broken

While Bangladesh’s world cup ended on a bad note, we shouldn’t forget the achievements and successes of this campaign. Bangladesh had performed far better this time than in any of the previous world cups. We were legitimately contending for a spot in the semis at one point. As fans, our role now is to simply hope our players have learned from the mistakes. Let us move on and look forward to the victories that await us in the future.

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Bangladesh batting, you are stuck in a traffic jam. You start watching the match 30 minutes late, expecting to see already 3 openers going back to the hut.

This was a common situation even till 2011. And batting collapses were something we the fans had made our peace with. Best case scenarios were an odd win here and there, and Shakib and Mushfiqur anchoring us towards a somewhat defendable total or a less shameful loss.

But not anymore.

2007 World Cup and finding our 5 heroes

Many critics argue that knocking down England from the World Cup 2015 was the start of our renaissance. But, the real flash of self-belief and an attacking mindset took root in the famous win against India in the 2007 World Cup.

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Tamim fearlessly coming down the track was a statement for a new brand of cricket. Shakib and Mushfiq both had chipped in with a fifty, with Mashrafe rattling down the Indian batting with his pace Bowling.

Our core group of 5 players, popularly known as ‘Ponchopandob’, including Mahmudullah Riad, are playing for the team together since 2007.

And thank heavens for this bunch.

Steady growth in the middle and ups and downs

In between 2007 and 2011, the most positive thing for Bangladesh cricket was the rise of Shakib Al Hasan as the top all-rounder in the world. Abdur Razzaq, the veteran left-arm spinner, also dominated the bowler rankings during this period.

Bangladesh had whitewashed mighty New Zealand. With the whitewash of a relatively weaker West Indies side, Bangladesh team was gradually making a statement.

But, there was this lack of consistency and it showed. The batting collapses in 2011 World Cup against West Indies and South Africa were stark examples of our inconsistency.

The sudden sparks of brilliance after the 2011 World Cup

Bangladesh had a disappointing series after the 2011 world cup and Tamim was facing a good amount of criticism for his lack of form. But the 2012 Asia Cup was somewhat of a bittersweet memory for Bangladesh. Bangladesh lost to Pakistan in the first match but won 2 consecutive matches against India and Srilanka, knocking both of them out. Tamim had scored four consecutive half-centuries and had made a statement.

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

But Bangladesh had a heartbreak for falling short of 2 runs, and the iconic scene of Mushfiq and Shakib bursting in tears still haunts the fans till date.

2015 World Cup and a new brand of cricket for Bangladesh

Bangladesh had struggled to find a perfect opening partner for Tamim Iqbal. The problem was wonderfully solved by the inclusion of Soumya Sarker. His attacking form of batting was something the opposition was not used to seeing.

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Fast forward to World Cup of 2015. Bangladesh vs England. Rubel Hossain bowling an amazing reverse swing delivery and Nasir Hossain chanting, “The Bangla tigers knocked out the English lions out of the world cup”. This is arguably the most memorable scene for any Bangladeshi fan so far.

After the 2015 World Cup, Bangladesh had won 3 consecutive series against the giants Pakistan, India, and South Africa. This was a major statement to the cricketing world that a win of Bangladesh is no longer an upset. Huge credit needs to be given to Captain Fantastic about how he marshalled his troops and created a sense of togetherness in the Bangladesh team.

Rise of Captain Fantastic and not looking back

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Another magical finding was our very own ‘Fizz’. Mustafizur Rahman had taken the world by storm through his mystery bowling. Although injuries hindered much of his rhythm, he is still a key member of the Bangladesh squad.

The rise of Bangladesh Cricket

Bangladesh has now become a force to be reckoned with in the cricketing world. The team that got bowled out for 58 runs and 78 runs to West Indies and South Africa in the 2011 World Cup, scored over 300 runs against both of the teams in the World Cup of 2019. We have great depth in our batting and we don brand a new form of fearless cricket.

It took us a while to finally get here, but we’re here at last. And we’re here to stay.

An ode to the superman of Cricket – AB De Villiers

As Cricket South Africa officially declared on 23rd May, AB De Villiers, the superman of cricket, has retired from all forms of international cricket effective immediately.

His decision certainly came as a shock to the cricketing community. “I have had my turn and to be honest, I am tired” said AB De Villiers earlier, making his decision public.

De Villiers, 34, made his first appearance in 2004 against England in a test match debut in Port Elizabeth and went on to become one of the most prominent cricketers of our generation. This South African batsman who made 360 batting popular was a living embodiment of entertainment on the field with a bat in his hand. He had played a total of 114 tests, 228 one-days international and 78 T20 internationals and has a total of 20,014 runs against his name across all formats.

Wanting to walk away while he was still in a good touch, an emotional De Villiers said, “It’s not about earning more somewhere else, it’s about running out of gas and feeling that it is the right time to move on. Everything comes to an end. To the cricket fans around South Africa and the World, thank you for your kindness and generosity, and today, for your understanding. I have no plans to play overseas, in fact, I hope I can continue to be available for the Titans in domestic cricket. I will continue to be the biggest supporter of Faf du Plessis and the Proteas.”

De Villiers has long expressed his desire to win a world cup playing for South Africa. He even took a break from test cricket in the 2016-17 season to avoid burnout and reserve himself for the world cup 2019.

With the decision coming now, de Villiers’ last international appearance will remain the last Test against Australia in Johannesburg, which South Africa won by 492 runs to win the series 3-1. In that match, de Villiers scored 69 and 6 to finish the series with 427 runs at an average of 71.16.

In recent days, De Villiers had become riddled with injuries and perhaps the fear of getting thrown out into oblivion had prompted him to make this untimely decision that has surely come as a blow to his fans and well-wishers.

De Villiers’ name might not get written down in history along with the likes of the cricketing greats such as Sachin Tendulkar and Don Bradman. But he will forever be remembered for his superhuman abilities in the field, no matter how short his career span was. It was not the quantity, but the quality of the game he played that had always spoken up when describing the calibre of AB De Villiers’ cricketing abilities.

As Rafid Rahman Turjya, a student of Dhaka University and a long-time fan puts it: “No matter what team you supported, you had to root for him. He scored, he entertained, he delivered. Very few ever live up to their talents like he did. Abraham Benjamin De Villiers, International Cricket will surely miss your Superhuman Calber. Take a bow, mister.”

5 most promising young cricketers in the world right now

As a fan of the sport, there is rarely anything as fun and genuinely exciting as watching promising youngsters taking on the big guns of cricket and standing their ground. Here are five of them who stand out as the next big thing in cricket. The only criteria of this list that is objective is the age of the cricketers, all of whom have to be under 23 to make it into this list. That means I will have to exclude many promising young talent such as Babar Azam from Pakistan, simply because they are a few months too old to be included. Also notable is how there are no Australian or English players on this list. This is due to the fact that in those countries, most cricketers have their international debuts after this cutoff age.

Shadab Khan (Pakistan)

The youngest player on the list, the only reason I’ve put this promising leggie so far below is because he’s still relatively untested. At the ripe old age of 19, he has already played 17 ODI matches, 13 T20I matches and a solitary test match as a member of the national team. Technically a bowling all-rounder in the domestic circuit, his claim to fame in ODI’s come from his stellar bowling performances against West Indies. Leg break bowlers are very rare to find in the age of T20I cricket, and even rarer is to find a leggie who can take wickets yet keep pressure on the batsmen. Considering the fact that he has the record for having the most economical figures in a T20I debut, he’s proven that he can do the latter. He was also a part of the Pakistani squad that won the 2017 Champions Trophy.  His maiden fifty against Sri Lanka in an ODI on the 17 of October, 2017 also shows batting prowess.

Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

The second youngest player on this list is a bit more recognizable for having a stint in the 2017 IPL with Sunrisers Hydrabad and in BPL with Comilla Victorians. Rashid Khan is also the second leg spinner on the list, and the reason he’s rated above the previous entry is because unlike Shadab, he is a proven talent. He became the youngest player to top the ODI bowlers ranking this February. He would also end up topping the T20I’s bowler ranking the same month. He also became the youngest player to captain an international side this March during the World Cup Qualifier, at the age of 19 years and 165 days. Having broken the record for reaching the 100 wicket mark for ODI’s in only 44 matches, Rashid Khan is already going places no Afghan cricketer has gone before.

Mehedi Hasan Miraz (Bangladesh)

The first Bangladeshi to enter the list is the wily off break bowler and right handed batsman, Mehedy Hasan Miraz. Not to be confused with the procession of Mehedy’s before him in Bangladeshi cricket, Miraz made his mark as the captain of the under-19 side that made it to the semifinals of the 2016 Under-19 Cricket World Cup. He would lead the team to victory in the 3rd place play off, beating Sri Lanka. He was also named the player of the tournament, having scored 242 runs and taken 12 wickets in 6 matches. The reason I have ranked this 20-year-old higher than the last two is because of the dream debut series he had against England. Having seen how good he was in the Under-19 world cup, there was no doubt in the minds of the Bangladeshi selectors that they had found a rare talent, and Miraz paid back the trust in full. Despite being a spin bowler, he opened the bowling in the first test match against fellow debutant Ben Duckett and managed to turn him into his first wicket. He became Bangladesh’s seventh and youngest player to pick up a five-wicket haul on the debut test. In the next test match, he would become the 6th player in history to have taken three five-wicket hauls in the first two matches. He would also become the first Bangladeshi in history to get the man of the series award on debut.

Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)

A name sure to trigger PTSD in the regular Bangladeshi cricket fan, Kagiso Rabada is a speed demon from the land of the Proteas. His ODI debut was against Bangladesh, and he completely ruined any chance for them to win by plucking out 6 wickets for only 16 runs. As a Bangladesh fan myself, it’s hard not to be traumatized by the event. This only shows why he is ranked so high on this list. He would also become only the second player in history to pick up a hat-trick on ODI debut, behind only Bangladeshi spinner, Taijul islam. The 20-year-old would also become South Africa’s youngest to have a 10-wicket haul in a test match. The figure of 13 wickets for 144 runs would also become the second best bowling figure by a South African cricketer in tests, behind the Protea legend Makhaya Ntini. He already has taken 143 wickets after having played only 30 tests, with an outstanding bowling average of 21.59 at the time of writing this. With similar figures across the formats, it’s hard to see how he won’t end up with hundreds of international wickets by the end of his career.

Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh)

The 22-year-old left arm seamer is my choice for the best young prospect in cricket right now. The reason for picking him is simple: by the end of his debut ODI series, he had already made an argument for being possibly the greatest fast bowler the country has produced. He had already shown his merit in his international debut against Pakistan in a T20I match in April, 2015, having taken the wickets of Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez. He would become a superstar in a few months, taking a record breaking five wicket haul in both of his first ODI matches against India. We would finish the series with 13 wickets as Bangladesh would win their first ODI series against India. He would also star in the following series against South Africa, helping Bangladesh win it 2-1. He has since established himself as the centerpiece in the Bangladeshi bowling line up, as well as becoming a superstar in the IPL and other leagues around the world. He has dealt with injury for much of 2017, but has recently been rehabbed and come back to punish batsmen. His immense potential and miserly ODI bowling average of only 16 runs per wicket is why I’m placing the 2016 ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year as the most promising young cricketer in the world right now.