Despite being one of the minnow nations in the competition, Bangladesh has had the experience of playing competitive cricket against the top nations for more than two decades now. They have played in all the World Cups after 1996 and their Test status in 2000 meant that despite losing game after game in the initial bit, their experience at playing the really big names in international cricket will hold them in good stead.
While the tracks in the sub-continent do not demand too much of it, the pace bowling department is a definite issue for the Bangladeshis. They have one fast bowler of note in the entire country, Mashrafe Mortaza, and most of the last 18 months or so, he has been of the side due to injury. The other issue that they may face is their over-reliance on two batsmen – Tamim Iqbal and Shakib al Hasan – both of whom have had a good previous season. How the side manages in case the pair do not do too well will decide the Bangladeshi fate.
It may be a coincidence that Sri Lanka’s resurrection in international cricket stemmed in 1995 and bore fruits in 1996 during the World Cup played in the sub-continent. Bangladesh look to be following the same route with the 4-0 win in 2010 over New Zealand and another sub-continent World Cup in 2011. Although it will be too much to expect Bangladesh to win the tournament, this could be a very good chance for them to upset a team or two and get to the quarter-final stage of the World Cup.
Tamim Iqbal had missed the previous series with an injury. Mortaza has been out with an injury as well. Another experienced pro in Mohammad Ashraful’s form has not seen too much improvement and that means that three of the side’s four best players are struggling. In case of the first two, rehabilitation is something that they wouldn’t have done before in their career – making it an interesting comeback to the side.
Bangladesh had stunned Pakistan in one game in the 1999 World Cup before crashing out of the tournament. They had earlier beaten Scotland as well. Expected to improve in the 2003 edition of the tournament, Bangladesh failed to win a single game in the next tournament, losing five of the six games that they played in with the other one abandoned due to rain. What was worse was that they lost to both, Kenya and Canada. 2007 was arguably their best World Cup as they stunned India to qualify for the Super Eight stage at India’s expense and then went on to beat South Africa in the second round.
If Mashrafe Mortaza remains injured Shakib will be the captain. The situation will be interesting if Mortaza recovers from his injury.
Shakib, Mortaza and Iqbal are three who will carry the team’s hopes. Of them, Shakib has the greatest responsibility as a batsman, bowler and a probable captain.