The Bangladeshis are a hard nut to crack. They have shown the courage in tough circumstances, but in the final, they tend to lose the mental battle. This has to end……
For Bangladesh, winning a match is not a surprise anymore. These days, they win matches consistently and even on the big stages, they exhibit enough flair and courage, which has buried the pathetic past when Bangladesh were regarded as the bashing boys of world cricket. Frankly speaking, as a Bangladeshi, this is a wonderful feeling to witness the change in my own eyes. The change has been pleasant and inspiring.
Bangladesh play well at present. They dream big and have earned the abilities to win matches away from home as well. The way the team showed character to bounce back in limited-overs’ formats after a pathetic defeat in the Test series against West Indies, one can hardly write off Bangladesh in any limited-overs tournaments. In the limited-overs formats, Bangladesh’s progress is satisfactory. It developed under Chandika Hathurusingha and, it seems, Steve Rhodes will carry on the legacy of Chandika in the upcoming days. Rhodes is a competent coach and, I hope, the local critics and media realize this.
Bangladesh’s participation in multi-national tournaments started through Asia Cup way back in 1986. Their first experience was bitter, but the nation did not lose hope and stuck to their eagerness to compete with the big boys of world cricket. That Associated Nation in 186 is now a Test nation and in cricket, they have come a long way. The Tigers play to win matches rather than winning hearts.
Already, the Tigers have featured in the finals of the Asia Cup. The 2012 edition of the tournament was one of the highlights in the history of Bangladesh cricket. Their epic victories against India and Sri Lanka are still a hot topic of discussion in the addas, while the narrow defeat in the finals, still triggers a heartache. Two years ago, the Tigers featured in the finals again. And again, they lost. The outstanding victory against Pakistan was forgotten after the defeat in the finals where India finished things off in a dominating fashion – the hype and premature celebrations met a sad end.
The Tigers have become habituated to feature in the finals of a multi-national tournament. They know how to advance to the finals by displaying a tough mentality, but still, they are not accustomed to ending the show with a big smile on their faces. Perhaps, this time around, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Steve Rhodes would desperately want to end up in style.
Within a few weeks time, a cricket carnival would take place in the Middle East, where the journey of Asia Cup started off in 1984. Bangladesh have not played enough cricket in the Middle East, even though they did participate in some of the tournaments in the 80s and 90s, but those were in Sharjah. At Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the Tigers have little or no experience of playing cricket. They could have earned the experience if Pakistan played their home series against Tigers, but sadly, it never happened.
Even though Bangladesh did not play in UAE, they should not be bothered by that as because the wickets out there are like those in Mirpur and Chittagong, where there would enough help for the slow bowlers as the match progresses. Also, with the new ball, the pacers would be able to gain maximum from the track, while most importantly, the wickets would be typical one-day batting wickets – scoring runs would not be the toughest of tasks.
Bangladesh have the batters and bowlers to cash in at Dubai and Abu Dhabi. And, with the inclusion of Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh’s chances of striking gold becomes brighter. Shakib’s record in Asia Cup is staggering. He gives Bangladesh the x-factor, which is much-needed for any team to win the tournament. The weather of Dubai and Abu Dhabi might be quite stressful for the Tigers, but over the years, they have learned to adapt to different conditions.
Can Bangladesh win the Asia Cup?
It’s hard to answer, but they cannot be written off. Winning a tournament is all about how a team handles the pressure. It’s not that Bangladesh have not shown the abilities to handle the pressure in crunch games, but in the finals, they tend to lose the mental battle. This is happening time and again. But this has to end.