Can Bangladesh do the unthinkable and win a World Cup?
Just before 11pm on Thursday night, the epic ICC U-19 World Cup semi-final finished in a startling victory for the Bangladesh U-19 cricket team.
A clinical knock by Mahmudul Hasan Joy guided Bangladesh to the final. This has led the junior Tigers to attain the most glorious moment for Bangladesh cricket, reaching the final of an ICC event for the first time ever. Can they upstage record four-time champion India?
Bangladesh is just one step away from what they want to achieve. The question arises: Can the Bangladesh U-19 do what Mashrafe-Mushfique could not? Playing as a dark horse, Bangladesh says they are not feeling extra pressure. The fundamental reason for this is the consistency of performance, especially the bowlers. “I would like to focus on the same processes and treat the final like just another game,” said captain Akbar Ali.
The game begun with Bangladesh opting to bowl first, and keeping New Zealand on the back foot since the beginning. A collapse triggered by pacer Shamim Hossain and consistent spinner Rakibul Hasan saw New Zealand crumble. They kept on losing wickets at regular intervals.
Their score was 74 runs for four in 26 overs. Fortunately, their middle-order batsmen Nicholas Lidstone and Beckham Wheeler-Greenall added a crucial partnership of 67 runs to help New Zealand end up with a decent total of 211.
In reply, it seemed Bangladesh’s tournament was over when they lost 3 early wickets within 100 runs. Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Towhid Hridoy, however, kept the momentum going. Hridoy got dismissed at 40. Nevertheless, nothing stopped Joy from bringing joy to thousands of Tiger fans through a mind-blowing century.
Bangladesh were dark horses in this tournament -- given their incredible form in the top-order batting in the build-up to the World Cup. While top-order batting is assumed to be Bangladesh’s profound strength, in this tournament, the lower order have not had any tests so far. On top of that, Rakibul Hasan, one of the most impressive players of this addition, is a key player.
As an experienced batsman, Towhid Hridoy can make the difference as well. By his experience of playing two World Cups, he is expected to chip in. Bangladesh also was an unrelenting array of pacers who are ready to be unleashed upon the opposition batsmen. As they have been in good form throughout the tournament, it is this pace attack that will also give hope.
However, let the future generation of international players enjoy the game.
The team that will hold their will eventually win the final battle.
Yet, it is wise to limit the expectations since they have already achieved the best place at any level of cricket in ICC events so far.
If they win the World Cup, it will be a great achievement. But if they cannot manage it, in spite of giving their best, to us they will still be champion. Qualifying for the final is a massive achievement. Let us hope for the best.
Mahde Hassan is an invigilator at the British Council.