Bangladesh sports went through a rollercoaster ride in 2019, with a few great moments followed by some not so memorable ones.
The crowning moment of the year came in Nepal in December where the Bangladesh archers made a clean sweep, bagging 10 gold medals in as many events in the 13th edition of the South Asian Games.
Bangladesh archers toppled their compatriot shooters, who won seven golds in the 1993 SAG in Dhaka, to win the highest golds in a single edition of the Games.
Bangladesh also never finished on top in every event of a sport at the SAG.
The overall outcome however, was not a happy one for Bangladesh as they finished fifth in the seven-nation standing with 19 golds, behind India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan and ahead of only Maldives and Bhutan.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh U-23 men’s and national women’s team also brought laurels for the country at the SAG as both won gold in the cricket competition.
The women cricketers earlier reigned supreme in the World T20I Qualifiers in September where they emerged as the champion to qualify for the main event, slated for February-March in 2020.
Rise of Bangladesh football
Bangladesh had gone through an unwanted phase of 17 months without playing a single competitive match before making their return to the international arena with a friendly against Laos in March, 2018.
The men in red and green, since then or perhaps a little bit earlier than the Laos friendly, started rising from the ashes gradually to become a force to be reckoned with in recent times, even against Asian champion Qatar.
Losing by five goals or a bigger margin was an usual scene against the stronger teams previously, but after the long break from international football, Bangladesh have not lost any game by more than two-goal margin.
The changes are not only evident in scorelines only, but also in the playing style, the newly adopted diet and discipline, the attitude and, remarkably, in the fitness of the players.
No matter which opponent they have faced in the past year or so, they never stopped fighting till the final whistle, and bagged six wins and three draws along the way.
But it was not those wins, including two consecutive dominant victories against Bhutan which garnered the most praise, but the draw against India and narrow defeat against mighty Qatar.
The tactician behind such an upward graph of the national team is head coach Jamie Day, a new face in the international coaching arena but a disciple of Arsene Wenger no less during the Frenchman’s golden period at Arsenal.
A healthy competition now exists in the team as every member has to fight for their position in all areas.
A brighter future awaits when the players get more mature and experienced but for now, as Day said, “If anything, the lesson we are still learning is we need to take the chances when we get them.”
Shakib ban rocks Bangladesh cricket
Bangladesh cricket received a mighty jolt in October when ace all-rounder Shakib al Hasan was banned for two years, with one year of that suspended, by the International Cricket Council for failing to report multiple corrupt approaches by a listed bookie to engage in illegal activities.
The Bangladesh Test and T20I captain accepted three charges of breaching the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Code 2.4.4 of failure to disclose to ACU the full details of any approaches or invitations he received to engage in corruption.
It has been revealed by the ICC that Shakib was approached by an individual named Deepak Agarwal.
The approaches were in relation to the Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe tri-nation ODI series in January 2018 and in relation to an IPL 2018 match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab on April 26, 2018.
Shakib may return to cricket on October 29, 2020 by getting one year of the ban suspended by complying in full the two conditions during the period of the initial 12-month ban.
In order to return to the game after one year, the darling of Bangladesh cricket must not commit any offence under the anti-corruption rules of any national cricket federation during the initial period of suspension, and must participate promptly and fully in any anti-corruption education and/or rehabilitation programs as specified by the ICC.
To compound matters, the Tigers performed poorly in their much anticipated tour of India, where all eyes were on the pink-ball Test.
Bangladesh however, capitulated meekly in the two Test matches, although they did win one of the three T20Is.