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Challenges of Team Tigers

Cricket in Bangladesh has now become an enigma. Successes in the recent past at international level have made cricket enthusiasts hoping against hope every time team tigers appear in any international matches. With ICC World Cup in view in 2019 and a very hectic season just started the challenges of team tigers appears huge. Post-resignation of head coach Chandika Samarasinghe has seen wide discussion in media. No one has yet been appointed to his position. Former test captain Khaled Mahmud Sujon and BCB Director will care take the team for the interim period. The first challenge is knocking at the door with the tri-nation tournament featuring Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and host Bangladesh commencing from 15 January. Ironically Sri Lanka will have Samarasinghe as its head coach. World cricket will watch closely whether Bangladesh can continue making progress steadily and how much absence of Hatura matters. The challenges are there and it is expected that team tigers would prove equal to the challenge.

After the mixed performance of Bangladesh Cricket team in 2017 questions are again started arising whether team tigers are overrated in international cricket. After very ordinary performances over the years with wins coming very few and far between year 2015 brought so much of glory that balloons of expectations started inflating. 5 quality players Mashrafee, Mushfique, Shakib, Tamim and Mahmudullah matured and they peaked almost at the same time. Few other talented youngsters like Mominul, Shabbir, Soumya, Mustafiz appeared. Charismatic Mashrafee taking over the captaincy of limited over versions of the game changed the body language of the unit .The team that was languishing almost at the bottom of the ranking started winning and winning big. It started with the qualification for the quarter final in ICC World Cup 2015 from a group featuring Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland and Afghanistan. Bangladesh beating England at Adelaide and knocking them out-earned them a quarterfinal date with India in MCG. However lopsided umpiring decision arguably deprived Bangladesh from further progress in the tournament. But Bangladesh in the same year whitewashed Pakistan, won ODI series against strong India and South Africa.  World cricket started recognizing Bangladesh as a formidable opposition in limited over version of the game. Compared to 2015 the performance in 2016 and 2017 was not according to expectation.

The immediate past year 2017 witnessed Bangladesh getting comprehensively whitewashed in all formats in two difficult away series in New Zealand and South Africa, losing a one-off test in India by a huge margin. But Bangladesh performed admirably in Sri Lanka drawing test, ODI and T20 series. In the meantime, Bangladesh beat England and Australia in one test each at home and managing a draw against both formidable oppositions. Bangladesh also qualified for the semi-final in the Champions trophy. Most of above happened when Sri Lankan Chindika Samarasinghe was a head coach. However, media was always critical about his autocratic way of managing the team. Many blamed him for not caring for monitoring local cricket and causing impediment to cricket careers of many regularly performing senior players and few talented youth. He was given total freedom by senior BCB officials. He hardly bothered following protocol and had a short circuit with the BCB President. He enjoyed extraordinarily high remuneration and could stay on leave whenever pleased. Whether or not his tenure created a solid foundation for the team with the abundant talented resource in the pipeline is open for doubt. He also appeared to have developed sour relations with the senior professionals in the team.

We are not going revisit the controversial manner of exit of former head coach Haturasinghe at a very critical stage following the abysmal performance of Bangladesh in South Africa. He was contracted till world cup 2019 and his contract provided for issuing notice prior to resignation. Any professional can always opt for better offers but professional ethics demand honoring contract. Chief selector Minhazul Abedin Nanno was managing the team in South Africa and BCB President was always in the thick of the things. It is unbelievable that none could guess about surprising resignation of Haturasinghe. He did not even submit his report of the tour and left Bangladesh Cricket in very awkward situation. Needless mentioning that not only he was highest paid coach he also enjoyed extra ordinary authority and previledge. He acted like a dictator in team management without having any first hand knowledge of domestic cricket.

The immediate challenge of post Hatura time is keeping the composure of Bangladesh team. Few players especially Mashrafee, Mushfique, Shakib, Tamim and Mahmudullah will be greatly relieved as Hatura suggested for all of them planning their exit from the team. He was allegedly responsible for sudden retirement of Mashrafee from T20 international. He created huge pressure on Mushfique infringing into his authority as test captain. Mahmudullah’s batting position were shuffled at will and he was even excluded from test team.  Talented Mominul and Nasir were devalued. Al Amin was ignored when proper care could develop him in to a wicket taking option in all formats. Hatura could not mature Taskin, Rubel and Mustafiz further. Neither could he find a quality leg spinner. The team still performed as 5 senior quality players proved their mettle. But whenever they could not team failed. We can now say Shakib not playing tests in South Africa was from uneasy environment in team management.

Anyway BCB has axed Mushfique as test captain .Shakib will now lead also in test in addition to T20. Mahmudullah whom Hatura influenced team management excluded from test squad at home against Australia would be vice captain. All these indicate that BCB has started changing heart.

The immediate challenge is tri nation tournament and series against Sri Lanka. At business as usual Bangladesh should win tri nation tournament and should white wash Sri Lanka in all formats. If that happens that will prove many wrong.
Mashrafee led ODI team will be firm favorite in tri nation series. Most national players looked in fine touch and few youngsters performed exceptionally in BPL.  Bangladeshi pacers could not exploit the pace friendly condition in South Africa. But that does not mean that they can not bowl well at home .Taskin ,Rubel, Mashrafee will have bowlers like Abu HaidarRony , Abu ZayedRahi, Shubhashish Roy as back ups . Bangladesh has many pace bowlers now to choose from for three formats. In spin department also Shakib ,Miraj and Taijul will have quality back ups . One of the major issue is finding an able opening partner for Tamim. Soumya failed to live up to expectation, ImrulKayes and Liton Das also looked not in prime form. AnamulHuqBijoy can be a right choice at least in T20 and ODI. But if team management desire to relieve Mushfique of wicket keeping responsibility as well Liton will be right choice. Shabbir may be disciplined. We find no reason why Mominul or Mahmudullah can not bat at number three in ODI and T20 .Both are technically sound and can play aggressively. Mominul will definitely feature in test .But we suggest playing him in ODI also. Position four, five and six in ODI are well settled among Shakib, Mushfique and Mahmudullah . After brilliant showing of NasirHossain in BPL and BCL there cannot any reason for ignoring him as genuine all rounder. Mashrafee will be there in ODI. Saifuddin can play in T20 and test . We would suggest including Ariful Haque included in T20 and ODI squad.

We would not make any comments about Sujon as Director Coaching and interim coach. If home grown coach is considered then why not Aminul Islam Bulbul for his much greater international exposure? He would be much better suited than any ordinary international coach. Salahuddin and Sarwar Imran can assist Bulbul. Kahled Mahmud is Director BCB. He is coach of Dhaka Dynamites , Abahani KC . A person must not have so many feathers in his cap.

Bangladesh team is not matured enough for recovering from reverse of South Africa. A strong performance in ensuing series will be right response to Harurasinghe episode.

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