Bangladesh – there but not really there

Bangladesh pose after winning the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier, 2019. © ICC

They are a team who have been there, but have not yet done that – winning matches regularly. Bangladesh have featured in every T20 World Cup since 2014, but have just the two wins to show – both in their first edition.

In the lead-up to the T20 World Cup in 2018, Bangladesh played as many as 21 T20I matches that year. Out of those, they won 12 – including the Asia Cup title – lost eight and had one abandoned game. Heading into the T20 World Cup 2020, they won 10 of their 13 matches played in 2019, including winning the T20 World Cup Qualifier 2019 in Scotland.

Rumana Ahmed’s inclusion in the squad for the global tournament made news because of her absence for most of 2019 – including the Qualifier – due to a knee injury. Hence, Bangladesh’s win is all the more laudable, given they had run into Thailand, who were in red-hot form in that tournament.

Undoubtedly, the stamp of a side that belongs to the subcontinent has to be a spin-heavy bowling attack. Bangladesh aren’t short on that facet, with Salma Khatun, Khadija Tul Kubra, Rumana, Fahima Khatun and Nahida Akter being the spinners in the squad. The Asian side’s batting might be a bit susceptible and that is an area they would look to address.

WATCH: Bangladesh squad analysis

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For some time now, Bangladesh’s opening batters have been selected based on who wins the ‘musical chairs’ contest. Or so it seems. In the 13 T20Is they played in 2019, they tried six different combinations at the top. Even in the T20 Quadrangular series in India in January, they tried three pairs in four matches.

It will be interesting to see the combination they go ahead with at the top. Murshida Khatun is one player who could start as an opener, given the promise she has shown.

Key Player:

Nigar Sultana. © Getty Images

Nigar Sultana had walked in with Bangladesh in a spot of bother at 35 for 2 after seven overs in the final of the Women’s T20 Asia Cup, 2018. She then made a 24-ball 27, top-scoring in the clash that eventually Bangladesh won. That is just one of many important knocks Nigar has played. More recently, she hit a T20I ton – her first 50-plus score in the format – against Maldives in the South Asian Games – an unbeaten 113.

Nigar has the runs, she has the experience. She ought to be the glue that binds the Bangladesh middle-order together in the T20 World Cup. It’s no coincidence that 2019 has seen Nigar average 32 in the format – her best in a calendar year – and Bangladesh had a win percentage of close to 77%. Needless to say, Nigar will have to have a good outing with the bat for the Asian side to do well in the global tournament.

One to Watch:

In most games that Bangladesh played in 2019, Murshida Khatun was a regular opener. The 20-year-old southpaw has given Bangladesh starts on most occasions. She has the ability to tread the off-side field as well as hit straight in the ‘V’. What’s more, she is adept at tackling spinners, too. These factors came to the fore in the final of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers, 2019. Against Thailand, she was responsible – along with Sanjida Islam – for giving Bangladesh a positive start, when they added 68 for the opening wicket. Khatun made 33 off 34 balls before being dismissed.

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In the T20 Quadrangular series in Patna, on a slow track in the final, she made 34 in 38 balls, enabling Bangladesh to a score which they eventually defended. The only issue from the outset seems to be her consistency, which would be developed over a period of time. Given the backing she is getting from Bangladesh, she should be one of the primary openers and, clearly, someone to keep an eye on.

Expectations:

Much was expected from Bangladesh after they triumphed over India in the Asia Cup final in 2018, but they failed to win even a single match in the T20 World Cup that followed. To date, their only two wins in the ICC tournament have been over Ireland and Sri Lanka – the latter being in the same group as them this time around. Realistically speaking, Sri Lanka is the only side they could defeat. They certainly would have had a good tournament if they manage to win that contest on March 2.

Squad: Salma Khatun (captain), Rumana Ahmed (vice-captain), Jahanara Alam, Shamima Sultana, Murshida Khatun Happy, Ayesha Rahman, Nigar Sultana Joty, Sanjida Islam, Khadija-Tul-Kubra, Panna Ghosh, Fargana Haque Pinki, Nahida Akhter, Fahima Khatun, Ritu Moni and Sobhana Mostary.

Fixtures:

24 February: Bangladesh v India, in Perth (WACA)
27 February:
Bangladesh v Australia, in Canberra (Manuka Oval)
29 February:
Bangladesh v New Zealand, in Melbourne (Junction Oval)
2 March:
Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, in Melbourne (Junction Oval)