Bangladesh have just finished what has been a memorable and historic couple of months in the shortest format of cricket achieving back-to-back series wins against the neighbours down under – Australia and New Zealand – neither of whom had any defeats against the hosts prior to their respective tours.
Leading up to the World Cup, Bangladesh should be high in confidence defeating both these nations by 4-1 and 3-2 respectively. Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) believes that growing a habit of winning games holds the key to the team’s success in the world cup. But do all these make sense or have any connection with the true state of our team?
Cricket is probably the game where the conditions matter the most. The weather overhead, the pitch, the ball, and even the size of the boundary makes differences for the playing nations. That is why, some teams tend to reach the host nation ahead of the schedule, others rely on touring the nations with similar conditions to the host, and the rest focus on mimicking the host conditions as much as possible in their own backyard.
But here we are in Bangladesh. In an attempt to gain so-called momentum to boost the team’s confidence, Bangladesh have ended up dishing out rank turners – something that is no way near to what Bangladesh would get in the UAE and Oman later this year – in ten consecutive outings against two sides that are technically not so validated against spin.
The pitches have been so underprepared that teams have registered 140+ scores only twice (both New Zealand) and got bundled out for below 100 on four occasions (Australia and Bangladesh once each, New Zealand twice).
Historically, the United Arab Emirates is not known for producing square turners. On top of that, since this is an ICC tournament, it is for certain that there will be an intentional attempt to create the pitches in a manner as batting-friendly as possible to engage the crowd.
Definitely due to the IPL games right in front of the World Cup window making the pitches somewhat tired, the pitches may not produce 200+ run-fests every day – but by no means can anyone expect the pitches to be difficult enough for the teams to score anything less than 160 at an average.
Bangladesh, however, dug itself into a paradox. While trying to create the momentum, Bangladesh team now have a squad full of players with no preparation in playing on flat pitches.
As for the bowling department, Bangladesh have four seamers – one of whom has only played one game in the last two series and the other three have basically bowled predominantly cutters every time they had the ball in hand.
And three spinners – who, courtesy of the unpredictable nature of the pitch, have made the ball turn sharply, skid through, bounce inconsistently-- basically done all sorts of things. On the other hand, the batting department does not seem to have enough self-belief to even survive, let alone score and chase big runs.
To be honest, Round 1 does not possess any considerable threat to Bangladesh. But, in such circumstances, the Super 12 is going to be super challenging.
Up against the big boys of world cricket in batting-friendly pitches, with batters short of runs and bowlers lacking defensive bowling practice, Bangladesh’s chances look slim as the famous commentator HarshaBhogle’s tweet comes into play, “I am not sure recent T20 matches played in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies are doing any good for the teams playing there if the objective is to prepare for the T20 World Cup.”
The writer is currently studying at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka