Bangladesh team touring Colombo for the Nidahas T20I tri-nation series are the least favourite in the competition, compared to the two other participating teams in the shape of India and host Sri Lanka. The Tigers are far behind in the statistics and their puzzled attitude in T20Is made it easy to put them in the back bench.
Since their inception in the shortest form of cricket in 2006, Bangladesh have played 73 T20Is but gone on to win only 22 times with the most recent of them coming against Zimbabwe. Except for all-rounder Shakib al Hasan, no other cricketer in the side are decorated enough to make it to the top batch.
However, given adequate development the Tigers have made in the Test and ODI format and with the next World T20 scheduled to take place in two years' time, Bangladesh feel the time is right to raise the bar. For that to happen, the Tigers first need to assess their ability against the other teams and find out their lackings.
Bangladesh with their historic win over Sri Lanka Saturday at R Premadasa Cricket Stadium in Colombo created a lot of buzz and showed glimpses to the world of their hidden ability in T20Is. The side which did not have the experience of scoring 200 runs in the format, had chased down a record 215 against all odds.
And this had come riding on their plan of playing the “Bangladesh brand of T20Is”, claimed different members of the side in the form of opener Tamim Iqbal and wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim with the last one being the stand-in captain Mahmudullah Tuesday.
All echoed the same sentiment – the Tigers do not have impact players but rather, smart cricketers, as the Bangladesh team put it. Tamim had put the words in the best way possible following their emphatic win against the Lankans.
"I believe it is one format where we can improve a lot. We might not have big power-hitters but we can plan and play a Bangladeshi brand of T20I cricket. We can't follow England, the West Indies or any leading T20I team because we have different kind of players. We don't have someone like MS Dhoni to come in at No 7. We don't have a Chris Gayle to take on the bowlers from the first ball. I think we have smart cricketers, who are different. It is not about hitting sixes and fours all the time. In the middle overs we saw that by taking a lot of singles, boundaries will come," Tamim had said a few days ago.
And Monday, Mahmudullah on the occasion of taking on India in the second phase of the series, said, "We spoke about creating a Bangladesh brand of T20I cricket ahead of this tour. We need to be smart to take calculated risks, particularly taking on a bowler. This will give us the edge. We don't have the power hitters, which we need to address, but we need to be smart to carry out our skills."
The Tigers have not taken it just as a theory, rather they have started believing in the process. The side had a horrendous start to the series through a six-wicket defeat after Bangladesh batsmen failed to execute their plan. On the day they had looked out of place with the batsmen on most parts looking puzzled. However, within 48 hours the side bounced back against Sri Lanka through playing pure cricket. The batsmen chasing the massive total had not done anything fancy, like a Virat Kohli does for India or AB de Villiers for South Africa, but stuck to the basics and played proper cricketing shots.
Bangladesh Mushfiq had made the most impact in the game, putting on an unbeaten 35-ball 72 to inspire his side to victory. The right-hander had played a couple of reverse sweeps but majority of the runs he had scored had come from shots played according to the merit of the delivery.
However, only time will tell just how far Bangladesh have progressed in the shortest format playing their own brand of cricket and the first test of the Tigers’ credentials will be carried out by India Wednesday.