Bangladesh have made massive amends in their cricketing chronicle with some heavyweight performances in the recent times. A few years back, they were rightly considered as ‘minnows’ for their mediocre run across formats with some sporadic flare of inspiration. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Bangladesh’s cricket career oscillated between mediocrity and occasional spark of brilliance. They’ve created few upsets in the past, but the current crop of Bangladeshi players stimulate immense confidence. It takes a lot for any associate team to acquire Test status and from there, it’s a herculean task to be considered as one of the competitive sides in the circuit.
After earning the precious Test status in November 2000, Bangladesh had to wait for more than four years for their maiden Test win, which came against Zimbabwe in January 2005. And now, Bangladesh have scripted history by beating Sri Lanka in a Test match in their own den and squared the two-match Test series. Over the years, Sri Lanka have developed a reputation of being the lions at home, routing them in their backyard is more than a challenge for any visiting teams. Bangladesh, after losing the first Test, bounced back emphatically and punched above their weight to square the series and set the cricket fraternity abuzz. They played with unmatched confidence and made a comeback in the second Test after conceding a lead of 129 runs in the first innings.
When a team scales newer heights and ascents from the ashes, seldom remembers the contribution and dedication of a coach behind it. He is the unsung hero and often gets camouflaged by the several other factors. A coach plays a climactic role behind a team’s success, which involves hours of hard work on and off the field. A coach not only trains a particular team but also builds it, he infuses confidence and rectifies flaws if any. Strategic planning and execution of ideas along with decoding opponents is a hectic part of coach’s tedious job. When the going gets tough, it is a coach, who plays a crucial role in boosting the team’s morale and help them fight back.
For instance, India turned into an imperious force in Test after they picked Anil Kumble as their head coach.
The man with the magic wand
Chandika Haturusingha has been instrumental behind Bangladesh’s rise in world cricket after his appointment as the team’s coach in May 2014. This was also when Shane Jurgensen hung his boots as the coach after 2014 ICC World T20. After trying their hands with high profile coaches like Dave Whatmore, Stuart Law and then Jurgensen, Bangladesh then fond some success with Haturusingha. In the past, Haturusingha has also emphasised on how he influenced the mindset of incipient cricketers and asked them to play for a win.
Very few are aware of the fact that earlier, Haturusingha was once overlooked for the role of Sri Lankan coach. And now, he has turned out to be one of the main reasons behind Bangladesh’s memorable win on the Lankan soil.
Prior to the start of the series, Sri Lankan skipper Rangana Herath also spoke about the threat Haturusingha possesses with the kind knowledge he carries about his opponents. Beating Si Lanka in their own den is a colossal feat to achieve, and for Bangladesh, it’s astronomical.
Under Haturusingha, Bangladesh have had their fair share of glories, they won a Test against England last year and have also qualified for the Champions Trophy 2017 after being ruled out of the prestigious tournament in 2009 and 2013. They were exciting to watch in the 2016 Asia Cup after making it to the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup. No team takes Bangladesh lightly and they are one of the heavyweights among the contemporaries.
Since Haturasingha’s appointment, Bangladesh have had a decent run if not amazing in whites and their graph is on a hike. His first assignment as a coach was the West Indies tour in September 2014. But, the home side turned out to be too strong for Bangladesh as they were whitewashed in a two-match series. Then came the touring Zimbabwe side, against whom, Bangladesh came out all guns blazing and registered a clean sweep in a three-match series. They achieved a milestone in Test cricket by registering their first ever whitewash at home.
Bangladesh had a lot to prove when Pakistan flew in for a two-match series. There was a lot of hype as Bangladesh were coming fresh from a series win against Zimbabwe and they did reasonably well against Pakistan too, but a mediocre run in the second game cost them the series. Then came the challenging one-off Test against India at home, and here Bangladesh were lucky to have been saved by the rain.
Had rain not played the spoilsport in the series against South Africa, the result of the series would have been interesting. Bangladesh stunned the cricket fraternity and announced themselves on the grandest stage after an emphatic run against England. Though the scorecard would suggest a series draw (1-1), but Bangladesh have only themselves to blame for not finishing things off after being on the brink of an implausible victory. But they pulled things back in the second encounter and registered their first ever Test win against England, which was a huge landmark in their cricket chronicle.
One doesn’t need to speak about the kind of team, Bangladesh have developed into in the ODI format. They had a mind-boggling run in the middle when they won five ODI series on a trot. Beating Pakistan, India and South Africa one after the other was no less than a dream come true for the flowering side. They were the talk of the town when they avenged Pakistan for the Test series loss by whitewashing them in the ODIs. In short, vengeance was served. Though they had a tough time against England in the ODI series, but they put up a strong fight against the strongest contender for the next World Cup.
Many senior Bangladeshi cricketers have often spoken about Haturusingha’s priceless inputs during crucial junctures of the game. He has nurtured the budding talents and they have groomed well, under his watchful eyes. Players like Mustafizur Rahman, Sabbir Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Soumya Sarkar and Mehedi Hasan Miraz to name a few have flourished in the recent times. Haturusingha’s appointment coincided with Mashrafe Mortaza taking over as the shorter formats skipper, and the partnership between them has reaped Bangladesh, fruitful results.
Sri Lanka’s cricket fortunes took a massive turnaround after their World Cup win in 1996, they were then considered a force to reckon with and were also mentioned among the elite teams. Haturusingha also aims to take Bangladesh to a similar position as they are growing at a rapid rate. Bangladesh have a long way to go from here on and so does Haturusingha, they are hungry for success and gave proven what they are capable of. Players have gelled well under his guidance and the upcoming Champions Trophy will be an ideal stage for Bangladesh to raise the bar and set a new benchmark. Haturusingha has been influential behind the ‘Tigers’, who have just sharpened their claws.