In its four appearances in the ICC Champions Trophy, Bangladesh has never gone past the group stages, but when it steps foot at the Oval, London to open its #CT17 campaign against host England, the Asian giant-killer will look to make an immediate impact against its favourite opponent in the recent history of ICC’s 50-over mega events. Bangladesh has emerged victorious in both its recent outings against England in the ICC Cricket World Cup. While it handed the English side a two-run defeat in the 2011 edition, Bangladesh knocked England out from the group stages of the 2015 event to qualify for the knockouts for the first time.
“There is genuine belief and confidence within the ranks, and I personally feel that we are now better equipped to do well overseas, too. I am optimistic, because all the ingredients are in place. It won’t be easy, but then again, international cricket seldom is,” wrote Habibul Bashar recently in his ICC column. And, why not? Bangladesh has a solid, balanced group that it can bank on. While Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Musfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah and Mashrafe Mortaza bring a decade of experience along with them, throw in the youthful exuberance and the undisputed skills of Soumya Sarkar, Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed and you have a team that can’t be taken lightly.
Bangladesh rightly deserves to be in the top-eight, but now it’s time to make an impact and that won’t be easy considering the challenges that English conditions might throw at it.
Bangladesh will be competing in the tournament for the first time since 2006, after failing to qualify for the previous two editions (2009 and 2013) because of its low ranking. Even though it hosted the first edition of the ICC Champions Trophy, then known as the ICC KnockOut Trophy, Bangladesh couldn’t participate as it didn’t have Test stature by then.
Its first experience of the event came in the second edition, in Nairobi in 2000, but Bangladesh returned home empty-handed in terms of results. The story remained the same in the 2002 and 2004 editions before it recorded its first victory, against Zimbabwe in 2006. That game remains its last Champions Trophy fixture till date.
Bangladesh has had an impressive run after the 2015 ICC World Cup, defeating the likes of Pakistan, India and South Africa to win five consecutive One-Day International series at home. But in the last one year, it has failed to replicate its performances of mid-2015. It lost 1-2 to England on home and 0-3 in New Zealand before levelling the three-match series 1-1 in Sri Lanka (second game washed out), a result that helped it qualify for this year’s Champions Trophy.
In its most recent ODI outing, Bangladesh earned a hard-fought victory against New Zealand in the final match of the tri-series in Dublin, and that will give it ample confidence to do well in English conditions.
Watch out for
The No. 1 Test all-rounder.
The No. 1 ODI all-rounder.
The No. 1 T-20 all-rounder.
Need we say more? A canny customer with his left-arm spin and a classy left-hand contributor in the middle-order, Shakin is the fulcrum of Bangladesh. With 173 ODIs under his belt, the 30-year-old will have to play a major role if Bangladesh is hoping to progress from a group that also includes England, Australia and New Zealand. Shakib can be both moderator and aggressor, and with the ball in hand, the opposition won’t expect anything less than a nagging, tidy wicket-to-wicket line.
Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Shafiul Islam, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Sunzamul Islam, Mehedi Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk).
June 1 v England at the Oval, London
June 5 v Australiaat the Oval, London
June 9 v New Zealand at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff