Sports desk: The Bangladesh cricket team, after a slow start to 2018, ended the year on a high that leant the year a note of success. This calendar year, the Tigers played 44 international matches across the game’s three formats and won 21 of them, including 3 Test victories out of 8 played – making it their best year in the elite format.
Previously, 2006 was the year when Bangladesh experienced the most success winning 19 of 33 international encounters. But many of the games the Tigers played that year were against associate members, and in terms of importance and the team’s progress, 2006 cannot compare with 2018.
In keeping with the team’s performances since 2015, the best win-percentage was registered in the 50 over-ODI format, where the Tigers won 13 out of the 20 games they played, making for a win percentage of 65 percent.
At the doorstep of 2019, the team continues to disappoint in the slam-bang T20I format, winning just 5 out of the 16 T20Is they played – their worst win percentage out of the three formats in 2018.
The team management and fans believe if they hadn’t lost Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal to injuries for a large part of the year, Bangladesh could have enjoyed more success. Tigers fans will also deal with the bittersweet memory of three limited overs internationals tournaments in which they reached the final – only to lose in all three, thereby prolonging their duck in terms of international tournament wins at the top level. Following the three missed opportunities from this year, the team has now failed at the last hurdle on six occasions.
Chokers, or not good enough?
The first final was at home against Sri Lanka in January, which Bangladesh lost by 79 runs. Shakib bowled five overs in the match and suffered a nasty finger injury which forced him to sit out during Bangladesh’s batting.
Sri Lanka posted 221 in the first innings of the match. Bangladesh failed to chase it down and eventually lost their way to get skittled out for just 142 under the lights in Mirpur. What made it all so disappointing was that this was probably the only final of the 3 that the Tigers started as favourites – it was their best chance. The team had strolled through the double round robin to reach the final, handily beating the Lankans twice in the process.
Yet the unique atmosphere that gets built around a final had the Lankans sniffing at a victory in the air, and we witnessed a complete turnaround from the round robin phase, as Chandimal and his team dominated the game from start to finish.
The Tigers lost the second final of the year in Nidahas trophy against India in Colombo on 18 March when Dinesh Karthik stole the show off a last-ball six. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza-led Bangladesh played tremendously well in the Asia Cup in UAE. They reached the final beating Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but failed in the final to India.
Bangladesh played the without Shakib and Tamim. While Shakib was out of action due to his overlong finger injury, Tamim was ruled out at the start of the tournament with a broken wrist.
These three final appearances remained Bangladesh’s lingering pain throughout 2018. But arguably their lowest point came when they tasted a bitter series in the shortest format against Afghanistan in Dehradun, where they lost all three T20Is.
If made to choose one performance though, getting knocked over for 43 against West Indies in Antigua on the first day of a 2-Test series in the Caribbean, stands out.
It was their lowest total in Test cricket and eventually, they lost the match by a huge margin of an innings and 219 runs. They followed with a pretty much same act in the second Test losing that by 166 runs.
The year finally started getting better for the Tigers during the ODI series that followed the Tests in the West Indies as they won that 2-1, which was Bangladesh’s first ODI series win outside Asia in nine years. The Tigers came up victorious in three-match T20I series as well. Shakib and Tamim played the series and were the main performer for the Tigers.
They carried that positive turn all the way home, first showing their prowess against Zimbabwe in ODIs. Shakib and Tamim were now missing again, but Bangladesh finished on top in the one-dayers, while the Test series ended in a draw. .
Imrul Kayes, the left-handed batsman, hit two centuries and one 90 in the three-match ODI series which helped the Tigers to register a clean sweep. But the Tigers stumbled in the first Test of the series in Sylhet when they failed to continue their ODI prowess and lost.
Right after that, the hosts won three Tests in a row. One of them was against Zimbabwe, that helped them draw the series. But the real prize came in the form of paying back the West Indies in kind for the suffering inflicted on them earlier in a 2-Test series at home.
Bangladesh also beat the West Indians in the ODI series at home that followed the Tests, but failed to maintain the golden run in T20Is as they lost the series in a decider which might be remembered more for the erroneous umpiring of local umpire Tanvir Ahmed.
Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad and Tamim Iqbal scored more than 1000 runs in 2018. Mushfiqur topped the list with 1657 runs. He struck two centuries and nine half-centuries. Mahmudullah scored 1309 runs and he hit two centuries and four half-centuries and Tamim scored 1201 runs with two centuries and nine half-centuries to his credit. While Mahmudllah played all 44 matches for the Tigers, Mushfiqur and Tamim played 43 and 31 matches respectively.
Mushfiqur’s unbeaten 219 was the highest individual innings for the Tigers in 2018 while Mominul Haque struck two 150-plus scores as well.
Three Bangladeshi bowlers took more than 50 wickets in 2018. Mehidy Hasan Miraz, the right-arm offspinner, topped the list taking 61 wickets across the formats. He also registered the best bowling in a Test for the Tigers taking 12 wickets for 117 runs against West Indies in Dhaka. Taijul Islam took 57 wickets while Shakib Al Hasan bagged 53.
Bangladesh handed Test debuts to 8 news players during 2018: Abu Jayed, Ariful Haque, Mohammad Mithun, Nayeem Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Shadman Islam, Sunzamul Islam and Khaled Ahmed.
Five got their ODI caps: Abu Hider, Ariful Haque, Fazle Mahmud, Najmul Hossain Shanto and Nazmul Islam. And six more boys debuted in T20Is: Abu Jayed, Afif Hossain, Ariful Haque, Mahedi Hasan, Nazmul Islam and Zakir Hasan.
Nayeem Hasan, the new right-arm spinner, showed his potential at the start of his career. In the Test debut against West Indies in Chattogram, he bagged five wickets for 61 runs, becoming the youngest debutant to take a 5-for.
Bangladesh will start their 2019 with a long New Zealand tour where they are scheduled to play three ODI and three Tests. The series will kick off at the end of February. Right after the New Zealand series, the Tigers will get busy with World Cup preparation. They will tour Ireland in May before the World Cup and play a three-match ODI series with Ireland and a tri-series with Ireland and Afghanistan. And then the World Cup.
After the biggest cricketing festival in England, Bangladesh will host Afghanistan and Australia in the home in October. They will lock horn with Australia for three ODIs only and Afghanistan for one Test and two T20Is, and at the end of 2019, they will tour India for two Tests and three T20Is. The Tigers will end the year of 2019 with an away series comprising three ODIs against Sri Lanka. UNB