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The Rise of the Bangla Tigers

Bangladesh, for long periods, were known as the minows of the Cricketing World. Poor records and more than numbers, their consistent paltry performances were often ridiculed. Few glimpses of exceptions like Mohammad Ashraful’s incredible 100 to beat mighty Australia in the NatWest Triangular ODI Series in England, Shakib Al Hasan’s 92* to single handedly beat Sri Lanka from a no hope situation in 2009. Who can forget the Tamim Iqbal knock, the lynchpin in India’s flesh to knock them out of the World Cup 2007.

Yet, the purists would like to point out that they were predominantly in the Limited Overs format and even this format, they were not consistent enough. The fans of the sport always cried out for a tough fight even in losses. Bangladesh Cricket Board always cited the lesser amount of games they play as the reason for the lack of good shows. Is it that, or psychological and confidence or lack of it.

Zimbabwe Toured Bangladesh in Oct’2014 for 3 Tests & 5 ODI’s and the their relatively new coach ChandikaHathurusingha had his eyes set on this Series to make a strong statement. He realized that the team he had were highly talented and only thing lacking is confidence and a mental block. Hathurusinghaand his coaching staff including Bowling coach Heath Streak installed some magic into the team and the players behind the closed doors and what emerged was something exceptional.

Bangladesh wiped out Zimbabwe to beat them 3-0 in Tests and 5-0 in ODI’s the rebirth of the champion allrounder Shakib Al Hasan who with both bat and ball wrecked the visitors. This series was the emergence of some exceptional young Talents, the likes of Taijul Islam, MominulHaque, Soumya Sarkar and rejuvenated Tamim Iqbal &Mushfiqur Rahim.

Most importantly, this team was brimming with confidence and started to believe in themselves. What followed was an exceptional performance in the ODI World Cup Down Under in early 2015 and by far their BEST, qualifying to the Quarter Finals stage. Hathurusingha and Streak and the coaching staff and MashrafeMortaza, their leader in limited overs format had to show the world that this was not a fluke. The newly bred confidence was infectious and their fans quickly tapped on to this attitude and supported their heroes like never before.

Bangladesh made their home a fortress. Beating Pakistan, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan and their feisty fighting spirit was out in the open for everyone to see. Taskin and Mustafizur Rahman, their newest fast bowling flag bearers, Mahmudullah Riyad and Shabbir Rehman are the batting technicians in the making and Mortaza, The Captain, leading with panache.

England is on Tour currently in Bangladesh for a 3 ODI’s and 2 Test Series. It was a closely fought (literally fought, pun intended) contest in the ODI’s. Bangladesh playing a Test match after a gap of more than a year and come the Day 4 of the 1st Test match, The Bangla tigers are giving the English a run for their money.

Bangladesh beating England in a Test match would be a shocking result, Win or Loss, this exceptional gripping contest and fight being shown by Bangladesh in a Test match is pleasing to the eyes of the followers of the sport and much needed for the Good Health of Test Cricket, vindicating BCCI’s backing of BCB and SLC against the Two-Tier Test format.

Most importantly, this also justifies the calls for more exposure and more competitive matches for the lesser teams, which would help them further improve and help Raise and Roar as The Tigers do.