Feature

Ireland come into Bangladesh T20s with plenty of ground to make up

The conditions in Chattogram should bring spin into the contests more, but the match timings might not be ideal for the fans

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
26-Mar-2023
Ireland will be chasing only their second T20I win over Bangladesh in this series  •  AFP/Getty Images

Ireland will be chasing only their second T20I win over Bangladesh in this series  •  AFP/Getty Images

Bangladesh are on a roll after a T20 clean sweep of England and dominating Ireland in the ODIs. But, the visitors have the T20 firepower to make a keen contest of it, as they showed during the T20 World Cup late last year. Can they revive their tour of Bangladesh, or will the home side continue to dominate? Here are the main talking points ahead of Bangladesh's three T20Is against Ireland.

Bangladesh's enviable home run

Bangladesh have a strong record at home; apart from the ODI hiccup against England at the start of March, they were at a different level, knocking off world champions England 3-0 in the T20I series and carrying that confidence to the ODIs against Ireland. In conditions that were rather un-Bangladeshi, they posted huge scores - 338 for 8 and 349 for 6 - on the occasions they batted first. When they bowled first, they bowled Ireland out for 101, with the fast bowlers taking all ten wickets. The spinners took a backseat for a change, bowling the lowest number of overs in a home series.
The home team's fielding has improved too, perhaps their most attractive aspect in recent times. It is not spectacular catches or effective dives but basic fielding that has often escaped this team. This month, they have done that right, giving their bowling attack an extra bit of cushion.

Ireland's best format to shine

Ireland don't have form on their side, losing their only T20I series so far this year, going down 1-2 against Zimbabwe in January. But they beat West Indies and England in the T20 World Cup last year, giving them some good memories to work with.
And at the current moment Ireland will take anything positive they can get their hands on, even if it is merely good memories. They have had a difficult time on this tour so far, getting hammered in the ODIs. In the two innings they batted, they couldn't get to 160. It wasn't even spin that got them, it was Bangladesh's impressive fast bowling attack in conditions that were nearer to what Ireland usually play in.

Chattogram Bangladesh's haven, but what about the match timings?

The Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur hosts most of the T20Is and T20s in Bangladesh, being the premier venue in the country. But the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram boasts arguably the best batting pitches. Often, they provide relief for the Bangladesh batters, and the spinners too will have more of a say on pitches that are going to be slower than what was on offer in the ODIs in Sylhet.
Legspinner Rishad Hossain to Bangladesh's squad, although he has only bowled five overs in domestic cricket this season. The selection might be daring, but there are choices to fall back on with Shakib Al Hasan, Nasum Ahmed and Mehidy Hasan Miraz also around.
The 2pm start time should also offer the batters the best batting conditions in Chattogram, and the spinners will not have to worry about dew. Whether these timings will bring in the crowds, though, remains a concern. The matches are being played during Ramadan and end just an hour before iftaar time, with the stadium located at the backend of an industrial area; it will be tough for most ticket-holders to return home in time to break fast.

Bilateral T20Is after 11 years

Bangladesh won the only bilateral series between the two sides in 2012. Ireland's only win over Bangladesh in this format was in the 2009 T20 World Cup. So there's not much history to this series, but both teams will have motivation enough: Bangladesh so they don't lose their white-ball momentum, and Ireland so they have something to show for their travels.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84