The rise of Bangla cricket

The rise of Bangla cricket

Celebrations have refused to die down in the country since Bangladesh tamed their erstwhile masters Pakistan in a tense chase and made it to the final of Asia Cup. If at all, there is now an added anticipation as the “Tigers” take on India in the title clash on Sunday.

It would be apt to say that the city is in a state of delirium since Wednesday. Be it the stands of the Sher-e-Bangla stadium, the nets where the team practiced on Friday, the streets of Dhaka, the local market, the buzz surrounding the fortunes of their national team attests to the passion of fans. It also means more pressure on the home team, but guided by a calm captain, Mashfrafe Mortaza, this team has belied all the nerves. Bangladesh cricket is truly enjoying its period of renaissance.

When Bangladesh defeated India, Pakistan and South Africa in ODI series at home, it was amply clear that something extraordinary was happening. Their pace battery had made everyone sit up and take notice.

The green pitches in the Asia Cup here have taken the cricketing world by surprise and so has the ability of their quality pace-pack to deliver. A country, once only known for its spinners, is now churning out fast bowlers. The process had started 2-3 years ago when the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) made a conscious decision to nurture a breed of fast bowlers. The domestic matches were instructed to have green tracks and a nationwide talent hunt was aggressively launched. They roped in Sri Lankan curator, Gamini Silva, to help them prepare seaming tracks and former Zimbabwean fast bowler Heath Streak as coach. On placid wickets, we found that oppositions were getting twice or thrice the amount of runs we would score,” BCB vice-president Mahbubul Anam told Deccan Herald.

“So we took a collective decision to prepare sporting wickets. We realized we need to give fast bowlers equal opportunities as spinners. That for us to be able to compete with top teams, we must be equally good with seam bowling. If you are good spinner, you would be able to bowl well on any wicket, see for example R Ashwin.

“We carried a nation-wide search for fast bowlers seriously and are continuing with it. In our four- day cricket, we gave strict instructions to have sufficient grass on tracks. It led to small totals and we went through a painful time, but it is paying dividends now,” he said.

Former captain Habibul Bashar points out how the transformation happened. “Earlier teams playing Bangladesh only used to worry about playing left-arm spinners. There used to be only 4-5 fast bowlers who were automatically selected.

“Today we have 8-10 quality fast bowlers who have a good competition among themselves. Even our under-19 cricketers have been doing very well,” Bashar told Deccan Herald. The rise of Bangladesh cricket would never have been possible without its captain Mashrafe Mortaza, a fast bowler himself. He carries an aura of a rustic fighter, a maverick, who is unaffected by the glamour of it. His record in international cricket might be ordinary but he is a leader who can bind and spur his boys to punch above their weight.  

 “He is a wonderful character both on and off the field. To this young side, he is like a father figure. He is a better captain than I was,” Bashar conceded. As the streets of Mirpur came to a standstill in raging revelry on Wednesday, the only person betraying calm was Mortaza. He would be the cog of the Bangladesh’s challenge against India on Sunday.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry