Dubai: If you want to gauge how passionate their cricket fans really are, visit Bangladesh once when they are playing a white ball game. They are among the most animated ones – and so are their cricket writers who take pains to travel to remote cricket-playing countries across the world.
The story of a football-crazy nation converting into a cricket country had been a fascinating one over the last two decades – producing some gifted performers along the way. However, a big trophy continues to elude them still – and it’s going to be no different in the ongoing T20 World Cup in the UAE.
A big loss against England on Wednesday, one of the tournament favourites in Abu Dhabi, was not unexpected at all – but the manner of capitulation was. This was the same Bangladesh (with virtually the same core group with the current skipper Mamudullah scoring a sparkling century) who had shut the door on England in a tougher competition, the 50-overs ICC World Cup in 2015, to make the quarter finals.
And in the 2007 edition in the West Indies, they stunned an Indian team comprising of the Tendulkars, Dravids and Gangulys – resulting in the latter exiting from the group stages.
What is it that’s going wrong this time? They may not have a good track record to show for in this tournament, but the Bangla Tigers’ performance graph this year indicated that they may have finally come to grips with this format. Even though their ICC T20 rankings meant that they would have to start from the qualifiers, but they came to the Gulf on the back of three series wins against Zimbabwe (2-1), Australia (4-1) and New Zealand (3-2).
The famous killer instinct – and the irreverent attitude about their opponents – seemed to be missing altogether. No doubt they are missing Tamim Iqbal, who made himself unavailable for selection, but Liton Das and Mohammed Naim are now their third most successful opening pair.
With two losses in two and still Australia, South Africa and West Indies to play in this Group of Death, a disappointing campaign looks on the cards. The phrase ‘golden generation’ is often used loosely in today’s sport but if ever there was one in Bangladesh cricket – it comprised of Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Soumya Sarkar and of course the retired skipper Mashrafe Mortaza.
Unfortunately, time is running out for them to leave a major trophy in the cabinet!