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      Volume 11 |Issue 35| September 07, 2012 |


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Hopes and Dreams

Having endured a tiring pre-world cup training schedule, which involved three tours in three months, the Tigers will hope to make a positive mark this September

Bishwajit Roy

Surely T20 cricket – in Arjuna Ranatunga's words akin to an ''Instant Noodles'' version of ODIs – is no longer a strange form to Bangladeshi cricketers. There has been debate over the merits and demerits of the shortest form of the game, as many thought that too much exposure to this form may hinder the progress of a country like Bangladesh, especially when the Tigers are yet to put their best foot forward in the longer version of the game – the upcoming players may get the wrong idea from a version of the game popularly known as a “money-spinner”.

But T20 cricket is a reality now, and the organisers must make sure that they strike the right balance between all the formats of the game in order to meet the demand. Along that line of thought the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has taken initiatives to familiarise the players with the craft of the format ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 to be held in Sri Lanka from September 18. The launch of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) first opened the door, in a real sense, for Bangladeshi cricketers to learn the trades of the game. There have been a lot of controversies regarding the off-field affairs of the BPL but there is no question about its on-field success. The local players competed with world-class quality opponents and that definitely helped.

Since the Tigers' memorable performance in the Asia Cup in Dhaka, which followed the BPL, Bangladesh has been on a steady diet of T20 cricket, starting with the unofficial tri-nation tournament in Zimbabwe. Under the guidance of new coach Richard Pybus, Bangladesh won one match each against South Africa and hosts Zimbabwe without their inspirational all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.

Both the captain and coach were realistic about their chances in the upcoming world cup. Photos: Star File

He is one player who is well ahead of his team mates regarding this format due to his experience. It was all but a successful Europe tour for the Tigers, as they whitewashed hosts Ireland in the three-match T20 series and then suffered shock defeats against Scotland and the Netherlands. The European success also brought the Tigers into the ICC rankings which was undoubtedly a morale booster for them.

Bangladesh are scheduled to play a T20 tournament in Trinidad & Tobago; their last tournament before the World Cup. Bangladesh will then play two warm-up matches against Zimbabwe (September 15) and Ireland (September 17).

The Tigers have been placed in Group D along with New Zealand and Pakistan. Bangladesh will take on New Zealand on September 21 before meeting Pakistan on September 25 at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

One may argue whether it is a wise decision for the board to allow the team to only play T20 matches for a long period of time because it may once again adversely affect the team when they play the test series against the West Indies in November this year. But one thing is certain -- there can be no excuses if the players fare badly in the World Cup.

Can Bangladesh repeat the Asia Cup heroics? Photo: AFP

In 2007, the first edition of the ICC World Twenty20, Bangladesh made a stellar debut when they beat West Indies by six wickets at the Wanderers Stadium in South Africa but after that, losses were the norm for the Tigers. Many claimed that the lack of match practice was the main reason behind the poor showing in the newest version of the game. But it should not be the case this time as the world's best all-rounder Shakib even said that “the team wasn't that confident in the previous World Cups. We didn't have the self-belief back then. But today we have confidence. We can beat the bigger teams and this is what can create a difference this time.”

Coach Pybus, captain Mushfiqur Rahim and his other teammates all echoed the sentiment with a familiar refrain being: “We are better prepared this time.”

So, will it be different this time around when they play the tournament in Sri Lanka?

The majority of players are confident but they need to translate that into performance on the field.

Despite enough preparation, Bangladesh are not at all favourites against their two group opponents New Zealand and Pakistan, but as the Bangladeshi players love to say: "there are no big or small teams in T20 cricket."


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