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.

Focus on the game of cricket, not the jersey

Picture a scene from the last World Cup. All Bangladeshi players gathering in the field, celebrating their win against England, and eventually qualifying for the Quarter Finals. This scene is arguably the most favourite cricketing moments for any Bangladeshi Cricket Fan. 

Fast forward 4 years. Another world cup is almost here. And a surprisingly unlikely contender is the topic of debate this time. The jersey.

No red in the jersey and it apparently matters

The fans are used to seeing our tigers in the world stage with the famous red and green jersey. But this year, when the official jersey was published by BCB, all hell broke loose. Two separate jerseys were there, but instead of a red and green merge, two separate jerseys of Green and Red Colour was brought to the media.

Mistakes were definitely made. But we might be focusing on the wrong ones. It was not the colours that we should be worried about. Names of the players were typed wrong including that of the captain’s.

Reaction of people

The reactions of the fans were nowhere near positive. Especially the green jersey had infuriated the general fans because they felt it was almost a copy of the Pakistan team jersey. Social media outbursts were observed.

“What is this nonsense? What is the point of copying Pakistan’s jersey? It would seem like a Pakistan vs Pakistan match while facing them.”

A furious fan commented

Does it really matter?

Aesthetics aside, this is actually not the first time Bangladesh had a single coloured Jersey. The iconic 1999 jersey with tiger strap did not have any hint of red either. Plus, there was a brief period when Bangladesh had a blue jersey. And also a time when it would be quite hard to differentiate between the Bangladeshi jersey and that of the Zimbabwe team.

The point is, the entire debate over this jersey is pointless. The design of the jersey that was designed and approved sparks debate, but it might not be the biggest of concerns. Yes, it didn’t have hints of red in it but no book says that there should be.

Reaction of BCB

Amidst the uproar (!) of people, BCB declared, they are applying for change. As per the latest news, a stripe of bland red in the middle of a tacky Green had been approved. Let’s hope this settles the debate once and for all for everyone.

Cricket world cup comes only in 4 years. And this is arguably the best Bangladeshi team yet.

Our focus should have been on the game, not the jersey.

And this is the last world cup of our very own Mashrafe Bin Murtaza. We hope that the Tigers bid him a proper farewell through their performance in the world cup.

The views expressed in this article are of the writer’s own, and not of HiFi Public as a publication.