One of the few reasons Bangladesh were successful in 2015 was the arrival of some new players. Soumya Sarkar brought an air of positivity at the top of the order while Sabbir Rahman provided their batting a kind of depth that was long missing.
The arrival of Mustafizur Rahman gave them the cutting edge that they were longing for. They combined to change the fortunes of the team, which can now duly claim a position among the big boys, especially in one-day international cricket.
But a quick look in the team’s result will show it was the performance of senior cricketers that played decisive roles in their success. Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah complemented each other while skipper Mashrafe Mortaza provided regular breakthroughs with the ball starting from the World Cup match against Afghanistan to their most recent ODI series against Zimbabwe in November.
Unfortunately for Bangladesh they could not repeat the same performance in Twenty20 internationals and as a result the team struggled in this format. Over the last one year, since February 1, 2015 to say precisely, Bangladesh lost more Twenty20 internationals than they have won, a fact that belied their incredible form during this period.
Their only notable success came against Pakistan, a team which itself is in terminal decline. Three defeats against Zimbabwe were too much for Bangladeshi fans to take. They have seen Bangladesh winning almost every match against Zimbabwe in other formats recently. But when it comes to Twenty20 cricket, they are actually at the same level.
Bangladesh even struggled to beat UAE in their Asia Cup match on Friday. Until the last over blast of Mahmudullah, when he took 17 runs, Bangladesh was not even assured of a decent score. They ended up with 133-8, which, however decent it may look was not a winning score at least.
Bangladesh needed another senior cricketer to step up to bail out them from the pressure situation. They could sense a win only after Mortaza earned two vital breakthroughs in the space of two balls in his first two overs. Mustafiz, Mahmudullah and Shakib did the rest, but one can never be sure what would have happened if Mortaza had not provided the twin blows.
It became obvious that when senior players contributed Bangladesh won the matches. Shakib scored a fifty in Bangladesh’s win over Pakistan last year. Against Zimbabwe in November, Bangladesh won both matches when he managed to stay unbeaten. Same can be said about Mahmudullah. Of the nine matches he played in the past one year, only two twice he remained unbeaten and Bangladesh won both the games.
Mushfiqur Rahim’s performance in Twenty20 cricket over the past one year is a shame considering his status as one of the team’s main batsmen. In nine matches, his highest is score 26, average 19.42. His form is one reason Bangladesh has struggled in T20Is.
One does not need to be an expert to say; unless he cannot improve his form time is not far away when Mushfiq will face questions over his position in the Twenty20 squad.
Mushfiq, Mortaza, Shakib, Tamim and Mahmudullah are the five cricketers who made Bangladesh the most experienced team for the upcoming ICC World Twenty in India. No other team can boast of so many players who played all five previous World Twenty20s. It is time for the quintet to make their experience count.
For some of them this will be surely their last World Twenty20. Unlike the past, the tournament will be held every four years now. There will be very few in Bangladesh to bet for some of them playing in the next World Twenty20 in Australia in 2020. So it is time for them to make a lasting impression in India.
Tamim is absent in the Asia Cup. But the tournament is a perfect platform for others to regain their form before the World event. It is major pre-condition for Bangladesh to be successful in India and even in this Asia Cup.