Uniqueness the 'edge' for Bangladesh
Despite abysmal recent form, turmoil in the leadership and the fact that Bangladesh need to 'start taking baby steps in T20s' as skipper Shakib Al Hasan admitted, the Tigers are still one of the contenders going into the upcoming Asia Cup in the UAE.
And they ought to be. The Tigers possess one weapon in their arsenal that no other team competing in the Asia Cup, nay, no other team in the cricketing world have.
It is true that Bangladesh have already set a unique precedent by going to the UAE without a head coach in their T20 set-up, but this unique approach is where the edge lies for Bangladesh.
"We do not have anyone as head coach this time," Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan Papon had said last Monday while talking to the media.
Asked who would be guiding the coaching staff -- which consists of pace and spin-bowling coaches, a fielding coach, and the newly-appointed technical consultant for T20s Sridharan Sriram -- Hassan revealed the deadly weapon that Bangladesh were set to unleash on the grand stage.
"We have our team director [Khaled Mahmud Sujon] and [BCB cricket operations committee chairman] Jalal [Yunus] bhai," Hassan began, before emphasising the rest of his statement. "And I, myself, will be there [with the team] this time. What else do you need?"
Isn't Hassan right? Why would there be a need for a head coach when the head of the organisation is present with the team?
Although the worldwide practice is the polar opposite, Hassan keeping a close eye on players right there in the UAE is, in fact, the greatest edge that Bangladesh have.
The BCB president has never shied away from making strategic decisions, whether it is questioning a captain's choice in the toss or playing an active role in deciding the playing eleven.
Going to the continental tournament without a head coach, however, is not the only unique approach taken by the Tigers' team management this time. Paying no heed to the conventional wisdom of having a set plan for a tournament as big as the Asia Cup, Bangladesh's team management simply decided to wing it.
Both skipper Shakib and team director Khaled Mahmud Sujon spoke about not having made their minds up about what the opening combination in the tournament would be. As they said, it will be decided just a day or two before the match. More importantly, it will depend on conditions and the opposition's probable line-up and strengths, meaning last-minute adjustments to the opening slots is no longer merely a response to emergency situations but rather a tactical ploy.
What a unique and flexible approach from Bangladesh! Such an approach will not only help Bangladesh fix their long-existing opening problems, but will also keep their opponents guessing till the final minute.
With so many unique aspects to the team, one thing that can be guaranteed is that this Asia Cup campaign will turn out to be an equally unique experience for the players and fans alike, regardless of where the three-time finalists end up this time.