Bangladesh played its first one-day match in 1986, and earned ODI status in 1997. But leave out sporadic wins against higher-rated opponents, and knocking India out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, their record over the years doesn’t set them up as a team that the opposition fears terribly.
At the Twenty20 level, too, Bangladesh hasn’t really set the scene on fire. In ICC World T20 2007, Bangladesh beat West Indies in the group stage to enter the Super Eights, but then lost all three matches to Pakistan, Australia and Sri Lanka to exit the tournament.
In 2009, Bangladesh was expected to move past the group stages again, clubbed with India and Ireland as it was, but lost to both opponents to finish bottom of its group. In the 2010 edition too, its performance was no better, losing to Australia and Pakistan to finish bottom of the group.
Coming to ICC World Twenty20 2012, Bangladesh is placed in Group D with Pakistan and New Zealand.
Both Pakistan, obviously, and New Zealand are ranked higher, but the tournament is taking place in Sri Lanka, conditions more familiar to the Bangladeshis than the New Zealanders.
Consider also that spin should be in at ICC World Twenty20 2012. And apart from Shakib Al Hasan, easily Bangladesh’s best cricketer, who usually bowls four pretty decent overs of left-arm spin, the team has enough spinning options to scatter around the playing XI.
Mahmudullah finds a place in the team as a batsman anyway, and is usually trusted with three or four overs of his offspin, while Jahurul Islam, Junaid Siddique and Nasir Hossain are offspinners too. Also, along with Shakib, the team has a strong left-arm orthodox group in Elias Sunny and Abdur Razzak.
Recently, in July 2012, when Bangladesh toured Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands, Shakib and Razzak and Sunny, with his slightly unorthodox round-arm action, have all been in the starting XI. That format is unlikely to change in Sri Lanka, in conditions more conducive to slow bowlers. It helps no doubt that some of these bowlers can bat a bit, and in Shakib and Mahmudullah, the team has, perhaps, its two most consistent run-getters.
The batting will depend largely on opening dasher Tamim Iqbal getting the team off to a good start, Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib consolidating at the top of the middle-order, Mahmudullah providing the flourish in the second half of the innings, and Mushfiqur Rahim, the captain and wicketkeeper of the team, providing the finishing touches in collaboration with Mashrafe Mortaza. That’s how the team has played in recent times, and probably how it will play in Sri Lanka too.
At the ICC World Twenty20 2012, Bangladesh could be a slightly stronger team than many expect it to be.
The Bangladesh Premier League has given the players a fair taste of what it takes to win, or lose, a T20 game. Shakib says, “The boys are not scared to chase big totals in 20 overs or hit over the top, because they are doing it in the BPL now.” That can only come in handy in Sri Lanka. And, as always, even if Bangladesh doesn’t threaten to win the tournament, they can certainly poop the party for one of the bigger teams.