Bangladesh and punching above the weight
Team Bangladesh © Getty Images
When Bangladesh played their first official ODI in 2011, Australia had already won five ODI World Cups and a T20 World Cup. 11 years later, in a group stage match of the World Cup, between these two sides, Bangladesh had reduced Australia to 41 for four. If their first-ever World Cup appearance was not televised, many would have not believed the heroics of Nigar Sultana’s team. Years from now, Bangladesh will look back at their maiden World Cup campaign with pride.
Journey in the tournament
Bangladesh defied expectations from their first match of the World Cup. Facing South Africa in their first-ever ODI World Cup match, Bangladesh bowled out the no. two ranked ODI side for 207 with left-arm medium-pacer Fariha Trishna taking three wickets. In reply, opener Shamima Sultana and Sharmin Akhter posted a partnership of 69 runs against the fearsome South African pace duo of Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka. They fell short against the Proteas, but they announced their arrival at the global level with that performance.
Bangladesh showcased fearless brand of cricket against Pakistan when they kept their calm to defend their highest-ever ODI total against Bismah Maroof side. Fahima Khatun was the star of the show in the death overs as her relentless efforts took Bangladesh over the line despite a century from Sidra Ameen. With that win, Bangladesh opened their account in the ODI World Cup and highlighted that they belong at the top level.
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In the tournament that saw many run fests throughout the course, Bangladesh were the only side to limit their opponents below 250 runs. That’s a massive achievement considering they bowled first against powerhouse teams like South Africa, West Indies, India, and England. Bangladesh’s experienced players, Rumana Ahmed and Salma Khatun crossed 50 ODI wickets in the course of the tournament while Fargana Hoque became the first player to go past 1000 ODI runs. For players who have represented Bangladesh for over a decade, achieving such feats in a global tournament like a World Cup is a matter of great celebration.
What did they get right
Nigar Sultana was handed the captaincy of the team just ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe in November 2021. Since then she has raised the bar of leadership. She was chosen to lead the team despite former captains Rumana and Salma still being a part of the squad. She managed her troops well in the tournament along with rotating her bowlers. The Bangladeshi bowling unit was able to make most of their opportunities because they had the backing of Nigar.
Salma was the pick of the bowlers for Bangladesh as she topped the bowling charts with ten wickets. With her phenomenal performance against Australia, she became the first player to dismiss Alyssa Healy, Rachael Haynes, and Meg Lanning in one match. Even though she went wicketless against India, her spell of 8-1-23-0 was instrumental in slowing down India’s scoring rate. The veteran off-spinner was also Bangladesh’s most economical bowler of the tournament.
Fargana Hoque was the top run-getter for Bangladesh as she churned out 173 runs across seven innings. She was the only player to score two half-centuries for Bangladesh in the tournament. Hoque was the cornerstone of the batting line-up as other players like Akhter and Sultana found a way to flourish. Even when she was not able to show aggression she found a way to keep the scoreboard ticking. Her patient innings of 71 against Pakistan led her team to their highest ever ODI total.
Nigar Sultana summed it up nicely when she praised her teammates, Hoque in particular, in the post-match press conference after the final league game against England. “Obviously, I'm very proud of them and how they contributed to the team. It was brilliant and I wish they play more for Bangladesh, I want them to achieve more. I have to name Fargana Hoque, she was brilliant with the bat.”
Future for Team Bangladesh
Bangladesh punched above their weight throughout the tournament. They were not able to cross the line in a few close encounters because of their lack of experience at this level. Their entire World Cup campaign was a learning curve for them. Nigar Sultana-led side will enter the next cycle of the ODI Championship with the experience of playing against all of their opponents. Bangladesh still have a long way to go and with more ICC events in their calendar, they will grow more in the coming years.
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Praise from the opposition
“It's been great to see how competitive the Bangladesh team has been throughout this World Cup. It's just great to see that they're really taking it to teams and showing what they can do.” England batter Tammy Beaumont on Bangladesh’s campaign.
“So she is extremely crafty and she bowled really well today, so it's no surprise to me that she has been a very successful player for Bangladesh.” Australia batter Beth Mooney on Salma Khatun’s spell.
“The way Bangladesh started with the bat really put us under pressure. Knowing how the day panned out, how aggressive they were in that path, they really put us under the pump- so great to see them play with that intent. I'm sure they're going to upset teams in this tournament.” New Zealand opener Suzie Bates on Bangladesh’s batting approach