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Bangla Boys

17-March-2007 will be a considered a historic day. Pakistan lost to Ireland and Bangladesh beat India.While Pakistan managed to lose to Ireland, India were beaten by a better team. May be not on paper, but in their approach and attitude.

Maybe the Bangladesh players were fired up by the resolve to do it for their friend Monjurul Islam Rana, who passed away a day earlier. Whatever the reason, there was intent in the way they played. Their performance was a slap on the face of those who continue to call them minnows.

Mashrafe Mortaza bowled with good pace touching 140 Kph consistently, while none of the Indian bowlers could manage such pace. He troubled the best. Sourav and Sachin were left groping outside the off. But the real flair, unsurprisingly, came from the Bangladeshi batsmen. Even when the test playing nations used to win matches against them by sleep-walking through
the matches, the flair and the cheekiness of the Bangladeshi batsmen always stood out. The captain himself leads this cheeky batting brigade Habibul Bashar will play the pull shot to any ball. It has led to his dismissals more times than not. But that has not prevented him from executing the pull shot.

Aftab Ahmad and Mohammed Ashraful are the most exciting batsmen to watch. They know no fear. Ashraful’s wonderful centruy against India in a test match a couple of years ago was one of the best attacking innings played against Harbhajan and Kumble.

Similarly Aftab’s 82 against England in the second test in 2005 was again an exciting attacking innings. Both Aftab and Ashraful have played match-winning knocks in ODIs. While Ashraful’s delightful 100 against the Aussies won Bangladesh the game at Cardiff, it was Aftab’s 67 which did the trick against India in 2004.

Now there is a new addition to the Exciting Bangladeshi Batsmen’s club – Tamim Iqbal. What flair, what arrogance. After being hit by a short ball from Zaheer Khan, to step out to the same bowler and whack him for a six shows the fearless approach of the kid. If the Aftabs, Ashrafuls and Tamims are just a preview to the new generation of Bangladeshi batsmen, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka beware. Bangladesh might soon become the team to beat in Asia.

Amidst all the gloom of India’s loss to Bangladesh, one man in India might be smiling. Sri Jagmohan Dalmiya was the one who was instrumental in securing a test membership for Bangladesh. He might have done it for increasing the number of votes in favour of India in the ICC, but playing with the big boys continuously has proved extremely beneficial for Bangladeshi cricket. Which, in a way indirectly answers the question about the inclusion of minnows in the world cup.

Allow them to play with the big teams and give them time. Look what happened with Sri Lanka. And look what is happening with Bangladesh. There is one common factor in both the cases.

So will the other minnows also benefit if they consistently play with the big boys? Not so simple. There is one crucial difference between Bangladesh and the other minnows though. The kind of following cricket has got in Bangladesh. The number of kids playing cricket is huge. Whereas it is not the case in the other associate countries. The talent pool in the other associate countries is not huge to guarantee a strong team in 15-20 years time.

Posted in Cricket.

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