Bangladesh improvement under Mashrafe Mortaza could lead to big things

  • Kushal Phatarpekar, Mirpur
  • Updated: Mar 03, 2016 17:16 IST
After a poor end to 2014, the Bangladesh cricket team are looking back at 2015 as one of their best years in history. (AFP Photo)

As 2014 was drawing to a close, the Bangladesh cricket team was going through its worst losing streak in three years. The 2015 World Cup was just weeks away and there were fears of another World event passing with Bangladesh struggling to prove themselves as a serious international side.

It was a point at which results saw a sudden improvement. A year later and the side is staring back at their most successful year in history. The Bangladesh cricket team has been on a roll since last year. It began at the 2015 Cricket World Cup where they beat Afghanistan, Scotland and England to reach the quarterfinal for the first time ever.

They immediately followed the feat by thrashing Pakistan 3-0 in an ODI series. Soon after they handed shock defeats to India and South Africa. On Wednesday, they once again beat Pakistan, sealing a place in the final of the Asia Cup T20.

One of the first catalyst of this change was the appointment of Mashrafe Mortaza as captain in November 2014.

The post was previously held by Mushfiqur Rahim under whom, Bangladesh had failed to register a win in 13 games through 2014.

With just a few months left for the World Cup, Mortaza was asked to take over the role. Since his term as captain began, Bangladesh’s performance graph has pointed in just one direction – up.

Mortaza’s nearly nine years of international experience, and calm demeanour helped him fit seamlessly as captain.

Their latest run in the Asia Cup, where the side has now won three in three, is a testament to the side’s growing confidence.

But the seeds of this growth seem to have been sown when Chandika Hathurasingha was appointed the head coach In June 2014. The former Sri Lanka cricketer, who has previously coached New South Wales in Australia as well as Sri Lanka ‘A’ and UAE started cautiously but got desired results once Mortaza was handed the leadership role.

A no-nonsense approach was adopted. Hathurasingha brought in discipline and reigned in the senior players. It has been reported that he has not been afraid in dealing with the Bangladesh Cricket Board when it has come to selection matters.

Soon, he was joined by Heath Streak as bowling coach under whom, Bangladesh’s current potent pace force to shape.

Streak was given a pool of fast bowlers to develop and the next few months saw Bangladesh discover a good crop. Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain and Taskin Ahmed have emerged as impressive bowlers who can bowl close to 140 kmph since the time Streak came on board.

Bangladesh, who have always depended on spin in the past, have turned their attention to pacers under the new management.

In all their big wins since this past year, fast bowlers have invariably played a key role. The trend has continued into 2016 and has been matched by results.

In the batting department as well, things have started falling in place at an opportune time.

A number of Bangladesh batsmen are reaching their peak together. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah and Soumya Sarkar are all contributing to the team. The team is not dependent on an individual to get runs, all these players have made considerable contributions with the bat over the past year. What is noteworthy is not just the numbers, but the aggressive manner in which they have gone about scoring them in the last few months.

Judging by the success to come their way in the past 14 months, the Asia Cup title might just earn them the right to be called favourites for the World T20.

Presumptuous, yes, but would it be outlandish were they to beat the fancied Indian side in the final?

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