December 26, 2011

One-day tigers

In 50-overs cricket Bangladesh had a very good year, beating India and Sri Lanka, and West Indies in a series. But they couldn't take the form into Tests and T20s

Bangladesh made the best of the few opportunities they were handed this year. The only team that played fewer matches in each format was Zimbabwe. Bangladesh played only two Tests, the fewest since they were first admitted into the format, and nine ODIs, the fewest since 2001. But their performances and win percentage in ODIs suggests they are a much improved team. In ten days of Test cricket, they enjoyed most of the first five but not the second.

Their first international engagement in 2012 was in March, when they hosted the Asia Cup for the third time. But unlike in their previous appearances in the regional tournament, where they were routinely rolled over by their neighbours, this time Bangladesh beat India and Sri Lanka.

Against India, three top-order batsmen scored half-centuries, but it was Shakib Al Hasan's 31-ball 49 that swung the game Bangladesh's way. Their win over Sri Lanka took them to their second tournament final, which they lost to Pakistan by an agonising two runs. The poor final over and the stuttering chase were soon forgotten by the fans, the tears of captain Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib were feted as heroic, and the form of Tamim Iqbal, who had hit four fifties in a row, was praised.

But a bizarre twist in fortunes followed. Coach Stuart Law departed abruptly, and with much flourish, Richard Pybus was named his long-term replacement. Bangladesh went to Zimbabwe, Ireland, Netherlands and Trinidad to play T20s to prepare for September's World Twenty20, which they exited after the first round.

The period gave Pybus a sense of how the Bangladesh board operated, and it turned out to be too much for him to handle. His resignation in October showed how poorly Bangladesh cricket is run. The BCB did not discuss the terms of his availability in detail before he started on the job, nor did it get him to sign a contract. All this less than a month before the team's first Test in nearly a year.

But the players were determined to put up a fight against West Indies and posted 556, their highest Test score, in the first innings. However, they failed to chase a target of 245, falling short by 77 runs, and bombed in the second Test in Khulna.

In the one-dayers, while everyone was talking about a 0-5 whitewash, Bangladesh beat West Indies in the first two games with their battery of spinners. Their 160-run win in the second match was their biggest ODI win ever. West Indies fought back to make it 2-2 but the hosts were competitive in both matches. In the final ODI, Bangladesh battled a six-hitting spree from Kieron Pollard before Mushfiqur and his deputy Mahmudullah took charge of the chase, and Nasir Hossain, Mominul Haque and Sohag Gazi batted like their lives depended on the game (and it probably did too) to give Bangladesh their best performance in international cricket.

High point
Among the team's five ODI wins were two outstanding chases, but Bangladesh's best win has to be the 160-run mauling handed to West Indies. Before this game, in a series against a stronger opposition, Bangladesh had never won the second match after winning the first. They made a sizeable total batting first, aided by young Anamul Haque's 120, and went on to shut out the visitors in 31.1 overs, an hour before the scheduled end of the match. Never had Bangladesh looked so dominant in an international match against a higher-ranked, more fancied and in-form opponent.

Low point
They gave up in the final session of a Test and lost the next one badly, but Bangladesh can be forgiven their five-day lapses since they were playing their first Tests in 11 months. What they can't escape censure for is their T20 loss to Scotland in July. Little-known Richie Berrington slammed a century off 57 balls and Bangladesh never recovered from the shock. They also lost a game to Netherlands on this tour of Europe, the second stage of their marathon preparations for the World Twenty20, where their campaign fizzled out into nothing.

New kid on the block
Bangladesh's selectors decided to pick a specialist offspinner - Sohag Gazi - for the first time in nearly a decade when faced with a West Indies side full of left-handers. Gazi, who opened the bowling in all three formats, showed composure, after being whacked for a six off his first ball, and flexibility. He was also willing to use flight in his bowling, a rare quality among Bangladeshi spinners. Anamul, Mominul and Abul Hasan all had their moments, but Gazi was the notable newcomer of 2012.

Fading star
Most of Bangladesh's current players are hardly old enough to be consigned to the scrap heap but the case of Mohammad Ashraful is a little different. He has been given every chance to return, and this year was even picked as a T20 opener. But the 28-year-old has not played a Test or an ODI this year, and in his six T20s he averaged less than 20. With so many youngsters filling his usual batting positions in the middle order, it looks like a hard road back for the once-exciting Ashraful. His domestic form has dipped considerably too, further pushing him down the pecking order for national selection.

What 2013 holds
Bangladesh will aim to take the impetus from the one-day series win against West Indies to Sri Lanka, where they play a full series in March. Then they go to Zimbabwe in April before hosting New Zealand in October. The BCB will look to fill the gaps like they did in 2012 but this time with more substantial international cricket.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shipu on December 29, 2012, 13:16 GMT

    Bangladesh "The rising team" with more retirements have occurred and many more very soon ;)

  • Muhammad Talha on December 29, 2012, 3:45 GMT

    Good luck bangladesh..india is on its way to becoming a minnow and its your chance to grab a good spot now. Best wishes from Pakistan!

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2012, 3:28 GMT

    Until now it was Shakib who helped Bangladesh win ODI's. However infusion of players like Nasir Hossain, Shohag Gazi, and perhaps Anamul Haque may relieve Shakib. Another factor that has contributed BD's success is that local cricketers gained confidence by playing alongside Gayle and other foreign stars in the BPL. The away series in Srilanka during March 2013 would be good barometer to see how the boys do in foreign condition.

  • Dummy4 on December 29, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    best performence by bangladesh

  • Dummy4 on December 28, 2012, 21:39 GMT

    We don't want to see Our cricket team being One-day Tigers only, we should be competitive in the Tests. 12 year is a long time, domestic cricket must have been improved by now. Hopefully, BCL will open a new line for us.

  • Sakib on December 28, 2012, 17:53 GMT

    A very well written article and lovely title. Hopefully BD will carry their ODI form to 2013. All the best.

  • Chris on December 28, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    May the progress of Bangladesh Cricket continue.....

  • Jonny on December 28, 2012, 15:37 GMT

    Its important and vital that if a few of our Bangladesh players are offered to play in County Cricket next year then they must take that opportunity. Love to see a few players like Tamim and Rahim play over there besides, Bangladesh are not playing in the ICC Trophy so it would be a good idea. If Bangladesh cannot add a few more series in the gaps they have then associates will be nice but we should think about raising the series we already have with Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe to 5 match ODI series and a few T20s just to give us more match games for our players. BCB should do more for Bangladesh to get enough Cricket.

    Now as for this guy the article mentions "Mohammad Ashraful" what can I say? I remember him being a big part of Bangladesh Cricket especially before players like Rahim etc came onto the scene but fast forward to now, he's no longer needed in the Bangladesh national team plans but I really hope for his sake he can deliver domestically be Bangladesh or elsewhere.

  • faizan on December 28, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    same kind of article that came to my notice was in 2010 , where they whitewash nz on home then they had a bad in fact verybad 2011 then a betr 2012 ovrall still nt improving signs for their cricket ! 1 gud reason is lack of gud int cricket , lets hope they improve in 2013 or it shud be fair to them to increase their limited overs cricket and scrap thr test status !

  • Smith on December 28, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    The last sentence of the article is the interesting bit for me and I really hope for us fans and our players that Bangladesh get more enough opportunity to at least get lots of limited over matches considering we do well in it now. Bangladesh is a young team that is growing and with the amount of top stars that are retiring from the other teams, don't be surprised if Bangladesh can beat the top 8 on a consistent bases in ODIs and T20s.

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