We are just less than a month away from the start of the ICC Champions Trophy, this year’s most important cricketing event and the Bangladesh team is already in the United Kingdom (UK) to give themselves enough time to acclimatise. The rejuvenated Tigers are returning to this prestigious competition after a gap of 11 years and they are eager to make an impact.
However, Bangladesh’s fortunes in the event will depend heavily on how their bowling department performs, feels Nazmul Abedeen, BCB’s national game development manager and one of the most respected figures in country’s cricket fraternity. Speaking exclusively to CricketSoccer from Dhaka, he previewed Bangladesh’s chances and clarified why he believes that bowlers hold the key.
Bowling will be the key
“As we know the Champions Trophy is an ICC event, so we can expect the pitches to be batting friendly, rather than being the typical English tracks. Don’t think there will be much grass on the wickets and 300-320 will be the average scores,” Abedeen said, before adding, “Currently, we [Bangladesh] have very impressive batting line-up. They bat deep and have the potential of reaching the 300-mark against any opposition in the word.”
But do they have the bowling to defend 300, especially in the tracks on which spinners won’t get much help?
“It will be a challenge. It is early Summer in England and wickets will not assist the spinners. So the bulk of the bowling has to be done by the pacers. I think here the pace bowlers have to bowl 30 to 35 overs in an innings. Our bowlers [pacers] are not used to bowl that many overs as spinners dominate proceedings in our part of the world. So, the team has to get used to this formula in the UK,” Abedeen, the veteran coach and mentor of many Bangladesh cricketers explained.
“With the new ball, the swing bowlers like Shafiul [Islam] or Mashrafe [Mortaza] will play a crucial role. Others like Taskin [Ahmed] and Rubel [Hossain] can come in later, in the middle overs. I feel the form of Mustafizur [Rahman] will be vital for us. You can rely on him at any point of the innings. Especially, with the old ball, Bangladesh will look forward to his death bowling. Overall, the task will not be easy for bowlers to restrict top batting line-ups in the world on wickets, where batting is easier,” he added.
The importance of Ireland tri-series
Following a 10-day preparation camp in Sussex, Bangladesh are all set to head towards Ireland to feature in a tri-series involving the hosts and New Zealand. Each team will play each other twice and Abedeen believes it will be a perfect warm-up for Mortaza’s boys before the big-ticket tournament.
“At this time of the year, Ireland will be colder than England and wickets will be damp. So, it will be a good test of the batsmen. After playing in such conditions, when they will return to England for the Champions Trophy, they will find the English tracks much easier to handle. Thus, the four games in Ireland will be absolutely crucial.”
Youngsters and their exposure in English conditions
The 15-member Bangladesh team, which has been named for the Champions Trophy has a nice blend of young and experienced cricketers. On one hand, there are the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mortaza and other senior pros who have the experience of playing in English conditions. But youngsters like Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehedi Hasan — who are important members of Bangladesh’s limited-over’s set-up, will make their international debut in this part of the world for the first time.
So, will this lack of experience of encountering these windy, cold and swinging condition before on the part of the younger members of the team be an issue for the Tigers?
Well, Abedeen doesn’t think so.
“They [The youngsters] have been playing at this level for some time now. Also, they have played cricket in England before, in the age-group and ‘A’ tours. I don’t think they have any major issue of coping up with the conditions.”
Chances of a semi-final berth
In Champions Trophy, which is starting from June 1, Bangladesh are placed in Group A alongside host England, Australia and New Zealand. Only two teams of these four will make it to the semis. Adedeen feels the chances are bleak for the ‘Men in Green’ to make it to the next round, but, he would be loved to be proven wrong by the boys.
“See, Bangladesh have been playing some excellent cricket in ODIs in the recent past. But you have to admit the other three teams [England, Australia and New Zealand] are stronger than us, especially on those conditions. So it [Making it to the semis] will be a tough ask. But the situation was similar in last world cup and we did qualify for the next round. So you never know.”
“But, it is not just about reaching the semis. Qualifying for Champions Trophy is a prestigious reward for our recent performances. Now, the important thing will be how we go about our business after the tournament,” Adedeen said before signing off.