England hosted the ICC Trophy for the third time in 1986 and Bangladesh were desperate to make a mark in world cricket. But what stood in between was a team in dispute. Politics, grouping and improper preparation worked against Bangladesh’s chances in the tournament’s third edition.
Bangladesh had finished fourth in 1982 but this time tension in the team eliminated that confidence, ensuring the three-week long tour ended horribly. This year the tournament featured 16 teams divided into two groups. Bangladesh were placed in Group A which contained seven teams including Kenya and Zimbabwe. The other group had nine teams.
The squad for the tournament was pretty similar to the one four years ago, and few changes meant entrance of young blood. Gazi Ashraf Hossain Lipu took charge as captain, replacing Shafiqul Haque Heera, who was captain in the previous edition of the tournament, along with a few others had expected him to retain the leadership. Newcomers like Minhajul Abedin Nannu, Athar Ali Khan and Nehal Hasnain were apparently left confused given the situation in the dressing room.
As the team were departing for England from the Dhaka Airport, majority were left stunned when Tanjib Ahsan Saad and Hamin Ahmed joined the team without notice.
Bangladesh had reached England early in order to prepare in the harsh conditions. There were few practice matches in which performance had hardly mattered. Nurul Abedin was brilliant with the bat during the warm-up games but found himself sidelined to make way for senior players in the main event.
Then there was Athar who was asked to open the innings but it was a new role to which the hitherto middle-order batsman wasn’t accustomed to. The result was the 55 runs he made in five matches.
Bangladesh in their first group game faced a 144-run defeat against Zimbabwe. A fine knock of 135 by Andy Pycroft helped Zimbabwe to pile up 315/7 against Bangladesh who could manage only 171/8 in reply. Next they faced Kenya where Bangladesh defended 143 runs as a group effort by the bowlers ended the Kenya chase nine runs short. Minhajul led with the willow scoring 50 runs. The game against West Africa ended without toss as the opponents had withdrawn the team last minute and were expelled from the tournament.
But what came next still comes as a disbelief to the members of the team – a 57-run defeat against Malaysia. Malaysia batted first and posted 239 runs. Jahangir Shah Badshah was a hero with the ball taking four wickets but batting debacle denied the joy to sustain. Nehal, captain Gazi and Rafiqul Alam got some runs in the middle scoring 40, 41 and 51 respectively.
This was followed by a six-wicket defeat East Africa after Bangladesh failed to put up a defendable score batting first. With only 162 runs on the board, the Bangladesh bowlers were under pressure and it showed in the scorecard as only two out of eight bowlers got at least one wicket.
Singapore’s withdrawal from the tournament gave Bangladesh rest before they faced Argentina for a seven-wicket victory, the second and the final win for Bangladesh in the tournament that year. In the last group game, the side faced Denmark and yet again a batting debacle ended as four-wicket defeat before Bangladesh headed home with chins down.
In between all the humiliation there were a few positives too. Nehal and Minhajul led the way with the bat scoring 155 and 152 runs respectively. With the ball, veteran pacer Jahangir took 12 wickets.
Bangladesh returned home humiliated and with anger among the members which was followed by a series of blame game but who knew that was the start of a new era of the game in the country.