Bangladesh have been playing with the big boys since almost 20 years now. They were given Test Playing Status on popular sentiment but they never justified their place amongst the elite. They have struggled to compete even in the ODI format since 1999 when they beat Pakistan in a World Cup match in England. A few victories here and there, mostly against Zimbabwe and Kenya but they were never up to the mark. A few famous victories were also registered, against India, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka but they were so rare that they almost seemed to be lost in the darkness that accompanied a glut of terrible losses.
They seemed to have a nice nucleus when they beat India in that famous 2007 World Cup win in the West Indies. The memory of a 17 year old Tamim rushing down the pitch and slamming Zaheer Khan in the stands still gives me nightmares. Another 17 year old, Mushfiqur Rahim, had played a pivotal part in that historic run chase that doomed India. But Bangladesh never seemed to be able to capitalize on the talents of these young players even as Mortaza, Ashraful, Shakib and Mahmudullah also showed promise.
Until recently. The main problem for Bangladesh was not talent but the fickle mindset of it's batsmen. The batsmen would get the starts but throw their wickets away. They were unable to build a long innings, the big scores that win you matches. Bowling was another area that was plagued by lack of good fast bowlers. They always produced excellent left arm spinners but on away tours these left armers were more or less left redundant.
The recent World Cup could be considered a turning point in Bangladesh Cricket as their batsmen showed more application and grit. They played well in Australia and New Zealand, places where they have probably not toured in ages. Tamim, Mushfiqur and Shakib form the cornerstone of their batting but they have Mahmudullah and Soumya Sarkar who have also blossomed and seem to possess talent in abundance.
The fast bowling stocks have also started to fill as the young tearaway Taskin made an appearance. Mashrafe Mortaza is still a very capable bowler even though he seems to spend half his time in the hospital. They also have Rubel who is quick and moves the ball just a little bit. The spin department was never a problem for them and the ever dependable Shakib leads the way for them.
The rise in the Fast Bowling stocks has coincided with the upward swing of Bangladesh Cricket
The way that they reached the Quarter Finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and then blanked Pakistan 3-0 in the ODI's before defeating them in the one off T-20 as well means that their cricket is finally looking up and I hope that will be giving other teams a serious run for their money and become a force to reckon with in the near future.
A good, strong Bangladeshi team will be very good for the game of cricket. I wish them all the very best!
PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com