ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Bangladesh's best chance to make impact
February 11, 2011
Athar Ali Khan: "Bangladesh's No.1 strength is self-belief"
For Bangladesh, the 2011 World Cup is the ideal stage to leap on to as a cricketing nation. The campaign will mark the culmination of two years of team-building through some tumultuous and heady moments, in between a lot of ordinary days.
It was expected that cricket in Bangladesh would take solid shape after success in the 2007 World Cup, where the team beat India and South Africa, but it went backwards for some time. Through a change in personnel, development of a core group and some high-profile wins since 2009, Bangladesh now look well prepared for their first 'home' World Cup.
The tournament has always been part of the country's imagination; a cherished destination during the ICC Trophy years. Bangladesh's first campaign, the 1999 World Cup, presented alien conditions to inexperienced players, but victories against Scotland and Pakistan helped the country gain ODI and Test status.
The next tournament was disastrous, however, as Khaled Mashud's team lost all five games including a humiliating defeat to Canada. A wake-up call was served and four years later, Habibul Bashar led Bangladesh through a much better time in the 2007 edition, their first venture into the Super Eights.
The stars of the 2007 campaign - Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and Abdur Razzak - are now the leading players and have made an impact on world cricket. The batting looks better at the top with Shakib holding up the middle and then leading the spin attack. Spin bowling and top-order batting are their strengths while fielding and pace bowling, overseen by specialist coaches, are on the way up.
This is Bangladesh's best chance to make a major impact in world cricket, something they would love to do in front of their home crowd.
World Cup pedigree
In three World Cups, Bangladesh have won five matches in all; a poor scorecard, but they did well in the 2007 tournament. Two victories in the first round took them to the second phase, their first time ever, where they surprisingly dominated their win over South Africa.
Form guide in 2010
Starting 2010 at the back of a successful year, Bangladesh slipped in the first half. They broke a 14-match losing streak by beating England in Bristol, but promptly lost to Ireland and the Netherlands a week later.
A dreadful Asia Cup in between, Bangladesh bounced back in grand manner, crushing New Zealand 4-0 in the one-day series and then finishing the year off with a 3-1 win over Zimbabwe.
Athar Ali Khan: We have to be realistic but 2010 has been a success story. Bangladesh beat New Zealand 4-0 but what has really come to the fore is that they have stayed together like a team and won games from difficult situations. This is a big step for the team. Individually, Tamim, Shakib, Mahmudullah and the spinners have all had a good year.
Looking at the performance, I think they'll go to the second phase. We should think one step at a time as they'll play the top teams in home conditions. There shouldn't be anything far-fetched but I think reaching the quarter-final is an expectation.
Defeating a better opponent or two and staying clear of the minnows in their group would help Bangladesh reach the quarterfinals. A last-eight finish could please the team, but a step further will simply make the cricket-mad people here go berserk.
Bangladesh's waywardness has always been exhilarating to the eyes but has given their fans the most suffering. Now Bangladesh have started to become more consistent, especially with the bat and much will depend on the start that Tamim and Imrul Kayes will provide, part of which would be great to watch.
Shakib balances the team with his all-round abilities, his left-arm spin bringing in the wickets. Improvement among the pace bowlers is encouraging but due to the conditions and the shape of the attack, spin will play the larger role.
They haven't always fielded like tigers but the World Cup could bring out a new dimension in their armory.
Shakib Al Hasan: Currently the No.1 ODI allrounder in the world, Shakib possesses the ability to take the game away from the opposition with both bat and ball. The 23-year-old is a feisty batsman, opting to take charge from the first ball he faces, but can anchor the innings from the middle order to take Bangladesh to big scores.
His left-arm spin however makes him a more dangerous player, his slider accounting for many a batsman. An athletic fielder, Shakib often is in better form when leading his side.
Tamim Iqbal: Much has changed for the then 17-year-old who bashed Zaheer Khan over his head in the last World Cup. Now Tamim has moulded himself as Bangladesh's top-order mainstay through big knocks in both formats. His off-side play remains disdainful while his shots on the on side are often sublime, especially the Brian Lara-esque one-legged pull.
Temperament is also a plus for this left-hander, who holds the Bangladesh record for the highest individual ODI score (154 against Zimbabwe) but has often thrown away a good start.
Abdur Razzak: His career could have ended some time ago, but the left-arm spinner turned things around in the space of three months last year, and has now become a vital cog for Shakib. He was nowhere in the first half of 2010 but kept things tight against New Zealand and against Zimbabwe - Razzak took 13 wickets in four games including Bangladesh's first ODI hat-trick.
Sound temperament and the ability to hold up an end are his strengths but he sometimes struggles in the end overs when he becomes too predictable. Yet, Shakib will rely on the man who at 29 is the oldest among the Bangladesh players.
Mohammad Isam is a Senior Sports Reporter at The Daily Star, Dhaka
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