World Cup Preview: Can first-timers Bangladesh spring some surprises?
Having got their ODI status only in 2011, Bangladesh have taken major steps in shaping their side making steady progress each year. After featuring in four T20 World Cups and also winning a T20 Asia Cup, Bangladesh is all set to make a mark in their maiden 50-overs World Cup.
So, when Bangladesh take on South Africa in their opening match on March 5 in Dunedin, it will be yet another historic day for the cricket crazy nation.
How they made it
In the 2017 World Qualifiers in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh finished fifth which helped them to keep their ODI status and simultaneously helped them qualify for the next edition of the Qualifiers. Even though the Qualifiers in Zimbabwe was canceled, Bangladesh managed to book a spot for the World Cup in New Zealand as they are ranked fifth in the ICC ODI rankings.
What have they done in the past?
Bangladesh will be making their first appearance at the global event in the ODI format. So far, they have played 42 matches and won 13 off them, while losing 27 and two matches had no results.
Nigar Sultana (c), Salma Khatun, Rumana Ahmed, Fargana Hoque, Jahanara Alam, Shamima Sultana, Fahima Khatun, Ritu Moni, Murshida Khatun, Nahida Akter, Sharmin Akther, Lata Mondol, Sobhana Mostary, Fariha Islam, Suraiya Azmim, Sanjida Akter
Likely playing XI
Shamima Sultana, Sharmin Akther, Fargana Hoque, Nigar Sultana (c/wk), Rumana Ahmed, Ritu Moni, Fahima Khatun, Salma Khatun, Nahida Akter, Jahanara Alam, Suraiya Azmim
Rumana Ahmed: The leg-spinning allrounder is one of the more experienced players in this side with over hundred internationals to her name. Her quickfire fifty against Pakistan in the World Cup Qualifiers was the highlight of the tournament in many ways. Apart from playing a key role down the order, she also adds immense value with the ball in the middle overs. More than anything, her experience is something which her team will bank on. Having also been the former captain, she could support Nigar Sultana as well.
Salma Khatun: The off-break allrounder is also one the former skipper in the squad and will bring a lot to the table. She is also one of the players who has been a solid performer with the ball and has played over 100 internationals for her nation. Her experience will be invaluable for Bangladesh in this first appearance at the World Cup.
With a height of 173 cm on her side, Jahanara Alam offers a unique capability which not a lot of players in Bangladesh can. She can generate a good enough pace and can also swing the ball well. In New Zealand conditions, she can be a valuable asset for the team in the first few overs with the new ball.
Add the fact that the bowling attack is filled with spinners, the importance of Alam increases even more. With more than a decade of experience under her belt, the 28-year-old even has a point to prove after being dropped from the recently concluded Commonwealth Games Qualifiers in Malaysia, where her side finished second. Though she keeps her goal very realistic ahead of the tournament, there would be a lot which will ride on her shoulders.
Eighth in the league stage
Bangladesh do bring in an unknown factor, wherein, not all teams have played against them. However, that could well turn out to be good or bad heading into the mega event. Their best chance to get a win could be against Pakistan, who they have beaten in the World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe just a few months back. They could also give West Indies a run for their money or even any other team. However, just purely based on skills, Bangladesh might come up short against most sides in the tournament.