Bangladesh are ready to rumbe
T20 World Cup

Underdogs no more: Bangladesh ready to slay T20 World Cup demons

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Over the years, Bangladesh have done enough to shed the tag of underdogs, showing marked improvement across all formats. At the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, they have a chance to showcase just how far they have come in the shortest format of the game.

Bangladesh come into the tournament with nine T20I wins in the calendar year, only behind South Africa who have 12. In fact, since losing to New Zealand in March away from home, Bangladesh have been close to unstoppable in T20Is, registering series wins over Zimbabwe (2-1), Australia (4-1) and New Zealand (3-2).

With form on their side, Bangladesh are favourites to top Group B in the First Round where they have been drawn alongside Scotland, Oman and Papua New Guinea.  

Ahead of their opening match against Scotland on 17 October, we take a look at their squad and their chances in the tournament.

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The T20 World Cup has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Bangladesh.

They were one of the stories of the inaugural tournament in 2007, when they made it past the first group stage and into the Super 8s but through the 2009, 2010 and 2012 editions they failed to register a single win.

They returned to winning ways in 2014 when the tournament was expanded to 16 teams, topping Group A of the First Round only to lose all four matches in the Super 10 stage. It was a similar story in 2016, where they crashed out in heartbreak after a devastating loss to India. Needing 11 off the last over to stay alive in the tournament, they brought the equation down to two off three balls, only to lose three wickets across those three deliveries, bringing an end to their World Cup dreams. They would once again finish winless in the second stage of a T20 World Cup, going down in their final game against New Zealand.

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The big difference for Bangladesh in this tournament is unlike in the previous six campaigns, they won't be underdogs by anyone's measure - not in the First Round and not in the Super 12 stage if they reach it.

The Tigers have made slow yet steady progress since the heartbreak of 2016, and have hit top gear just in time for the 2021 World Cup, and justifiably sit sixth on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I team rankings, ahead of the likes of Australia, West Indies and Afghanistan. Their T20I series wins over Australia and New Zealand this year - their maiden series wins over either nation - are testament to how well they are playing thin 2021. No one will be underestimating Bangladesh this year, and more importantly, their belief in the fact they can beat anyone will be sky-high.

With a good blend of youth and experience, Bangladesh have all the ingredients to go deep into the tournament.

Captain Mahmud Ullah, who recently became the country’s most successful T20I captain after surpassing  Mashrafe Mortaza in the first T20I against New Zealand, is one of several seasoned campaigners in the Bangladesh squad along with Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar and Mushfiqur Rahim. They will form the spine of the batting line-up. The presence of Afif Hossain lower down adds more depth to the batting lineup.

In the absence of Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh will be hoping that Mohammad Naim and Liton Das can fill the void at the top of the order. In just 11 games together, the two have become the country’s third most prolific opening partnership in T20Is and Bangladesh will want them to set the World Cup ablaze.

With the ball, Mustafizur Rahman will be tasked with the responsibility to lead the attack. The emergence of Nasum Ahmed since making his T20I debut in March has further strengthened the attack that also consists of Taskin Ahmed, and Mohammad Saifuddin among others.

Bangladesh are placed with Scotland, Oman and Papua New Guinea in Group B of the First Round and are favourites to qualify as table-toppers. However, The Tigers will not be merely happy with qualifying for the Super 12 and will be aiming to make it to the knockout stage for the first time in the history of the T20 World Cup. 

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The squad

Mahmud Ullah (Captain), Mohammad Naim, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Afif Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Mahedi Hasan, Nasum Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Saifuddin, Shamim Hossain

Reserves: Rubel Hossain, Aminul Islam Biplob

Their fixtures

17 October – v Scotland

19 October – v Oman

21 October – v Papua New Guinea

Tournament history

Best finish:  Super 8 - 2007, Super 10 - 2014,  2016

Bangladesh have gotten out of the group stages of the main tournament twice, which was way back in 2007 in the inaugural edition of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup and in 2016 in the most recent edition.

Placed in Group A with South Africa and West Indies, The Tigers qualified for the Super 8s after beating Windies in 2017.

In the three subsequent editions, Bangladesh had a torrid time being knocked out at the first round, before reaching the Super 10s in both 2014 and 2016.

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Look out for

Afif Hossain

Afif Hossain had an inauspicious start to his international career when he got out for a duck in his very first match against Sri Lanka in February 2018 and was subsequently dropped from the national team.

However, it did not take long for him to turn his fortunes around as in his very next match, against Zimbabwe in September, he scored a match-winning 52 off 26 to guide Bangladesh to victory. Hossain displayed tremendous courage, for someone who was all of 18, walking in at 60/6 while chasing 145 in 18 overs with veterans Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmud Ullah already back in the hut.

Even though that’s Hossain’s only half-century to date in international cricket, it is his ability to come up with important cameos lower down the order that has made him an important cog in the Bangladesh set-up. 

Though he has made a name for himself at the international stage so far as a batter, he is a very able bowler as well. In fact, it was his five-for on debut at the 2016 Bangladesh Premier League that made people take notice of him at the national level.

With his ability to float anywhere in the middle order and also chip in with a couple of overs, Hossain could be a real asset for Bangladesh at the upcoming T20 World Cup.

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Key player

Mustafizur Rahman

The resurgence of Mustafizur Rahman this year has been one of the biggest positives for Bangladesh cricket heading into the T20 World Cup.

In fact, since the turn of 2020, Rahman has been Bangladesh’s highest T20I wicket-taker and the 11th-highest wicket-taker overall in the world. In 15 matches since 2020, Rahman has 24 wickets to his name at an average of 14.70 and a fantastic economy of 6.49.

With a whole arsenal of tricks in his armoury and now the experience of handling high-pressure situations, the Fizz is going to be a handful on the tracks in Oman and UAE.

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Big match

Oman - 19 October

Favourites to top Group B in Round 1 of the T20 World Cup, Bangladesh’s match against home team Oman is possibly their biggest game and might even help The Tigers seal a berth in the Super 12 stages. 

The two sides have locked horns only once before in the shortest format of the game, where Bangladesh emerged victorious by 54 runs at Dharamsala in the 2016 T20 World Cup. 

Bangladesh will hope to keep their100 per cent record against Oman alive in their second league game on 19 October at the Al Amerat Cricket Stadium in Muscat.

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