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Year-ender: Bangladesh men’s cricket team

  • Published at 12:03 am December 29th, 2018
Tigers
Bangladesh team during training in Sylhet in December Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

At the of the year, batsmen getting runs and a competitive team being built ahead of the World Cup can be considered as positives for Bangladesh ahead of 2019 where the marquee 50-over event is looming from May-July in England and Wales

It has been a busy year for the Bangladesh men’s cricket team in 2018 as they have played quite a few home and away series’. It was kind of a transitional period for the Tigers as their head coach Chandika Hathurusingha resigned abruptly in the end of 2017, and Bangladesh eventually handed the role to English coach Steve Rhodes ahead of the 2019 World Cup. So how has the Tigers performed in 2018, and how are they taking preparation to build a team for the World Cup next year? Let’s have a recap at the year gone by.

Tri-nation ODI home series (against Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka)

Bangladesh started the year with a tri-nation ODI series against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka at home back in January. They started impressively with two wins against Zimbabwe, and one against Sri Lanka. But they lost the last group stage match against the Lankans heavily (by 10 wickets). In the final, Bangladesh were favourite against Sri Lanka but Shakib al Hasan’s injury came as a big blow for Team Tigers. He injured his left little finger during fielding and could not take further part in the match. Chasing 222, Bangladesh were bundled out for just 142. Losing the final after an impressive start to the tournament was frustrating, but the bigger frustration was Shakib’s injury.

Sri Lanka series at home (2 Tests, 2 T20Is)

The Tigers started the Test series without their regular Test captain Shakib. All-rounder Mahmudullah led the side and the Tigers drew the first Test against the Lankans in Chittagong’s Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Cricket Stadium. Mominul Haque scored centuries in both innings (176 and 105), which was an important time to return to form as the left-hander has been an integral part of the Test team. But Sri Lanka won the Dhaka Test comprehensively, and clinched the series 1-0, as Bangladesh managed to score only 110 in the first innings and 123 in the second.

Sri Lanka won the two T20Is comprehensively as Bangladesh lost the first match by six wickets and the second by 75 runs. So the year started with three tournament defeats for the Tigers under an interim coach in Khaled Mahmud.

Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka

Bangladesh went to Sri Lanka in March to play a tri-nation T20I tournament titled the Nidahas Trophy where India took part along with host Sri Lanka. Bangladesh lost both matches against India in the group phase but won both their games against the home side to qualify for the final. The last group stage match win against Sri Lanka by two wickets was a thriller as Bangladesh scored 12 in the last over to clinch the win, thanks to Mahmudullah’s heroic unbeaten 43 off 18 balls. Bangladesh faced India in the final and at one stage went agonisingly close to defeating India for the first time in T20Is, and win the trophy. India needed 29 in the last two overs, and a splendid 29-run innings off only eight balls from Dinesh Karthik sealed the win. It was heartbreak for Bangladesh in yet another final.  

T20I series against Afghanistan in India

The next mission for the Tigers was against Afghanistan in Dehradun, India. Shakib returned to the squad to lead the side, but could not inspire the team as Bangladesh shockingly lost all three T20Is against the Afghans. Afghanistan won the first match by 45 runs, the second by six wickets and the third by one run. It was a disastrous performance by the Tigers as they were second-best to the Afghans in every department in the shortest format of the game.  

West Indies series in the Caribbean (2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)

The BCB finally appointed a full time head coach in the form of Rhodes and his first assignment was an away tour against the West Indies. Bangladesh started the tour horribly as they were all out for just 43 in 18.4 overs in the first Test against the home side on day one of the Antigua Test. Bangladesh lost the match by an innings and 219 runs. The result was equally disappointing in the second match as they lost by 166 runs. The Bangladesh batsmen were completely blown away by the Windies pacers in both the Tests.

But it was a complete turnaround by the Tigers in the ODI series, led by Mashrafe bin Mortaza, as they won 2-1. The batsmen finally found their groove and scored some runs. Later, the Tigers also won the T20I series in Florida 2-1. A horror start to the series ended on a positive note.

Asia Cup away in UAE

Bangladesh started their Asia Cup campaign with a superb win against Sri Lanka in the first match. But that win came with a cost as opener Tamim Iqbal was injured after fracturing his finger during batting. But Tamim came out to bat for the last wicket with Mushfiqur Rahim and formed a vital partnership as the Tigers posted a challenging total. Mushfiq scored a brilliant 144, and eventually Bangladesh won the match by 137 runs. The Tigers were defeated by Afghanistan, but still managed to qualify for the Super Four as Sri Lanka lost their match against the Afghans. In the Super Four, Bangladesh defeated Afghanistan and Pakistan to reach the final. But the bad news was losing Tamim and Shakib to injury. In the final, Bangladesh opener Liton Das blasted a brilliant 121, but they managed to score only 222 in the end. But Bangladesh bowlers showed great fight as India had to wait until the last ball of the match to ensure a three-wicket win. Another heartbreak for Bangladesh but overall the team played brilliant cricket in the tournament against tough opponents and in arguably tougher conditions of the middle-east.

Zimbabwe series at home (2 Tests, 3 ODIs)

The Zimbabwe series started in October with three ODIs and Bangladesh dominated it, winning 3-0. Bangladesh’s top-order batsmen were in form throughout the series. Imrul Kayes particularly was in blistering form as he scored 144, 90 and 115 in his three innings. But the Test series started with a shocker as Bangladesh lost to the visitor in the first Test in Sylhet by 151 runs. Later, Bangladesh won the second Test by 218 runs in Dhaka and squared the series 1-1, but losing a Test to the current Zimbabwe team at home was an embarrassing result for the Tigers.

West Indies series at home (2 Tests, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is)

The West Indies came to Bangladesh for a full month-long tour after playing against India at their backyard. The series started with Tests as Bangladesh won both the matches dominantly and did not give the Windies a chance. Both the Tests, in Chittagong and Dhaka, ended within three days. Bangladesh spinners dominated the whole series as the West Indies had no answer against them. The ODI series was a bit more competitive but still, Bangladesh managed to win it by 2-1 margin. But the West Indies bounced back in the T20I series as they won it 2-1, and the series was entertaining as both teams played attacking cricket.

So it was an eventful year for the Bangladesh men’s team. Losing 3-0 to Afghanistan, getting all-out for 43 on day one of an away Test against the West Indies, losing a Test against Zimbabwe at home were the low points for the Tigers in 2018. But there were some impressive performances, like reaching the Nidahas Trophy final, reaching the Asia Cup final, winning the ODI and T20I series’ away against the West Indies. Losing two finals by narrow margins will go down as two more heartbreaks for the Tigers. But at the of the year, batsmen getting runs and a competitive team being built ahead of the World Cup can be considered as positives for Bangladesh ahead of 2019 where the marquee 50-over event is looming from May-July in England and Wales.


HIGHEST TIGERS WICKET-TAKERS IN 2018

Player                Inns    Wkts    Ave

Taijul Islam (Tests)        13    43    22.97

Mustafizur Rahman (ODIs)    18    29    21.72

Mustafizur Rahman (T20Is)    13    21    21.19


HIGHEST TIGERS SCORERS in 2018

Player                Inns    Runs    Ave

Mominul Haque (Tests)    15    673    44.86

Mushfiqur Rahim (ODIs)    19    770    55

Mahmudullah (T20Is)        16    414    34.5