The last that Ireland contested against Bangladesh was in a World Cup qualifier contest. Not a happy sojourn then, in Colombo, Ireland suffered a comprehensive 7-wicket loss in the sub-continent as the likes of Rumana Ahmed, Sharmin Akhter led from the bat as arguably the star of the moment, Jahanara Alam contributed with the ball to lead a rout of the Laura Delany led side.
Ireland would be wise to remember how overwhelmingly did a cricketing unit not necessarily recognized as a force back then drub them. The hard-fought 30s by Clare Shillington and Laura Delany- both contributing a 37- tagged with the patient, watchful 24 by Isobel Joyce didn’t exactly weave a feisty run troika.
A 144 on the board wasn’t ever going to be enough- was it?
As the prospect of a keenly anticipated 3 T20I series strikes, a lot of questions do the rounds. But if a single-most overwhelming sentiment could capture the spirit of the impending contest than it would be measured in the plight of Ireland, hammered by Bangladesh then, a year ago but mauled by New Zealand of late.
Can capricious Ireland prepare for a surprise series win over Bangladesh?
While the immediate answer to a rather frivolous query may be on offer by the time the 2nd of the 3-match T20s arrives, the focus will once again be on the big four of Ireland. Led by Laura Delany, bolstered by arguably, their best all-round campaigner- Isobel Joyce- what difference can Ireland possibly bring against touring Bangladesh along with Shauna Kavanagh and, Clare Shillington?
Can sparks fly from the Joyce sister’s bat- we will have to wait and watch as there was nothing exciting to write home about against the White Ferns. An opportunity to make for the forgone chance to shine with the bat, definitely beckons.
Making a comeback against Bangladesh would be Kim Garth, who was sorely missed against a one-sided NZ hammering- apart from featuring in a solitary ODI- that Ireland endured. What could Ireland’s able all-rounder bring to the series?
Age might not be her necessary strength, but the onus will be on the leg break of Ciara Metcalfe, an experienced proponent who’ll be desperate to get going. Meanwhile, Laura Delany will ponder about rotating her bowlers well- Maritz, Murray and Lewis being hammered throughout the punishing run-fiesta against the White Ferns.
Has the troika, one battered for runs by Bates’ girls, learnt its lesson- we will have to wait and watch. But what seems definite is that the tempo of the moment belongs to Bangladesh. While Ireland’s scars may take time to heal, Bangladesh would still be witnessing the crescendo of their highest point in competitive cricket- having clinched the 2018 Women’s Asia Cup.
Perhaps there’s no precise measurement on the confidence meter that can gauge the current mood in the camp of the many tigresses. Commanded by Salma Khatun, the onus will be on the experienced all-round operation led by the likes of Rumana Ahmed, Shamima Sultana and, Jahnara Alam- all of whom starred throughout the Asia Cup.
The key, however, would be for Bangladesh’s spin-reliant force armoured by an in-form Khadija Tul Kubra, 7 wickets from Asia Cup. While the likes of Nigar Sultana, Fargana Hoque can all enjoy a great whack with the bat, the runs will have to be contributed by Sultana, Khatun and, Ahmed.
On even terms, both sides would be contesting at the back of plenty of T20 experience throughout the year.
But as Ireland would be playing for pride, to undo the odds they so heavily faced against the White Ferns, expect nothing less than relentless from Bangladesh. They will be desperate to prove their T20 triumph wasn’t a flash in the pan. But it could all change within a few seconds given the uncanny template of the contest.