Bangladesh not repaying faith of adoring fans - Kumble
Former India captain Anil Kumble believes that Bangladesh have not done justice to the level of support they receive at home. The World Twenty20 hosts lost to two Associate nations this month, first to Afghanistan in the Asia Cup and then to Hong Kong in the first round of the World T20 last weekend. On Tuesday, they begin their Super 10s campaign with a game against defending champions West Indies.
"They've played at the highest level for a good number of years but the worrying thing for me is they have yet to arrive as a top-class international team," Kumble wrote in his Times of India column. "It is bewildering when you consider the immense passion for the game in the country. The game is played at a reasonable level throughout the country but the national team is still to repay the faith of its adoring public."
Having played nine international matches in Bangladesh between 1998 and 2007, Kumble has seen the home side's wide following first-hand. He believes that if Bangladesh were to beat West Indies, despite West Indies' own shaky form, it would be considered a shock result. "They are in their own backyard with the conditions more than suited to their players. Yet there is that unfortunate feeling one gets that should the Windies stumble, it would be seen more as an upset win for the hosts rather than a victory which shouldn't raise any eyebrows," he said.
Kumble compared the team to Sri Lanka in their early days, but said Bangladesh are still to arrive as a major force.
Recently, Bangladesh whitewashed New Zealand in a home ODI series for the second time in three years, while also beating West Indies in ODIs in 2012. They have defeated each Test-playing nation at least once in ODIs, though they haven't beaten Pakistan since 1999. In Test cricket, Bangladesh recently drew a series against New Zealand and a Test against Sri Lanka. But since that draw in Chittagong in early February, they lost two T20s and seven ODIs in a row, before beating Afghanistan and Nepal in the World T20's opening round. Then, they lost to Hong Kong.
"They [Bangladesh] have scored some good wins in the ODI version but not consistently enough to be taken seriously for a big team," Kumble said. "With a tournament of this stature having arrived at their doorstep, it's a fantastic opportunity for Bangladesh to make people look at them in a different light."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here