With a fiery new bowler named Fizz leading the young guns and all-rounder Mushfiqur Rahim the old guard, Bangladesh are aiming to leave their mark on the Champions Trophy where they are appearing for only the second time.
Bangladesh edged ahead of West Indies in the world rankings to get their place at the 50-over tournament where they will feature in the opening match against hosts England on June 1.
Captain Mashraf Mortaza said the team, who last took part in the trophy in 2006, have the mental strength to overcome the tough conditions in England.
“If you look at our group, you must feel it will be a difficult job for us,” Mashrafe said before leaving Dhaka.
“But you can never be sure. We defeated England twice in those conditions, beat Australia once.
“Though those victories are a thing of the past, at least they give you some self-belief. It all depends now on how we mentally make preparations for the tournament,” he said.
Considered perennial minnows, the Tigers have seen a dramatic rise in their fortunes since the 2015 World Cup. Their move up to seventh, saw West Indies fall out of the top eight teams allowed at the Champions Trophy.
- Tiger bite –
Bangladesh reached the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals and then posted consecutive one day series victories against Pakistan, India and South Africa to zoom up the rankings.
Mustafizur “Fizz” Rahman has emerged as one of the best young bowlers to come out of Asia in recent years.
He blitzed through four Irish wickets in an eight-wicket win in a warmup international last week to highlight his potential.
In Rahim, the country’s Test captain, Bangladesh have their best ever wicketkeeper and a match-winning batsman alongside the likes of Soumya Sarkar who made an unbeaten 87 in the win over Ireland.
Former captain Habibul Bashar believes Bangladesh have seen a revolution in their game mindset and are now “worthy competitors”.
“The 2006 Champions Trophy was just fun. We had to play in the preliminary round to get into the main draw. But after all these years, we are directly playing in the final round,” Bashar told AFP.
“During those years our aim was to avoid humiliating losses. We didn’t dare to dream of any spectacular achievement. But now we consider ourselves as worthy competitors,” he said.
However former opener Shahriar Nafees believes the team will need to punch above their weight to stand up to the likes of England, Australia and New Zealand in Group A.
“We have got to be realistic,” said Nafees, architect of their only Champions Trophy win so far, against Zimbabwe in the 2006 preliminary round.
“We are going to play in the Champions Trophy and our rivals are all tough teams. Especially, all three are good in the English conditions where the tournament will be held,” he said.
Nafees said Bangladesh could still pull off surprises as their “confidence” is high following a recent run of form.
Bangladesh drew 1-1 against Sri Lanka in Colombo in a three-match series in April. They were beaten by New Zealand 3-0 in January but they were competitive in all three matches.
Bangladesh open the tournament against England on June 1 at the Oval before facing Australia on the same ground on June 5.
They end their group phase against New Zealand at Cardiff on June 9.