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T20 World Cup 2021

Why Bangladesh are dark horses for the 2021 T20 World Cup

by Sarah Waris 5 minute read

Despite the home series wins against Australia and New Zealand at home, it is largely believed that Bangladesh’s T20 World Cup preparations have been affected by the low-scoring pitches on offer, but that might not necessarily be the case, writes Sarah Waris.

Bangladesh, who will be without Tamim Iqbal for the upcoming tournament, will begin their T20 World Cup campaign against Scotland on October 17. They are well-placed to advance to the Super 12s, and could well be the dark horses of the event. We list the reasons why the Asia side could spring a surprise or two.

Recent form could give them confidence

At the end of the day, wins in any format and in any conditions, especially ahead of a multi-nation event, helps boost the side’s morale, instilling belief that they can win from any situation.

Shakib has likened Bangladesh’s recent success to how the side geared up for the 2007 World Cup. Although those wins before the 2007 tournament had come against Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Scotland, they took the confidence of those wins into the tournament and scripted history – famously beating India at Trinidad – and there is no reason to believe the side, with a number of promising youngsters, cannot repeat the same this time around as well.

Plenty of spin-bowling all-rounders create balance

Bangladesh have a well-rounded bowling attack, including a formidable spin attack that could swing games in their favour in the middle overs. In the last year, two slower bowlers Shakib Al Hasan and Mahedi Hasan from the country have taken 14 wickets and made at least 100 runs in the format: with only George Linde picking up more wickets whilst scoring at least 100 T20I runs in the same period. Nasum Ahmed has been the breakout star, picking up 18 wickets in 14 matches in the last year, giving away his runs at just 6.22 an over.

The ‘Fizz’ is back

After injury issues, Mustafizur Rahman has rediscovered his mojo of late and will be the key player for Bangladesh in the upcoming tournament. The quick has been bowling well, picking up 13 wickets at the death since the beginning of last year, conceding just 7.52 runs an over at an average of just under 13. In the two series against Australia and New Zealand, Rahman picked up 15 wickets in nine games.

The tracks in the UAE will be skiddier which could make Rahman even more lethal. In the last year alone, the quicks from Bangladesh have picked up 53 wickets at an average of 20.50, and together with the spinners, the Tigers enter the competition with a lethal bowling attack.

Mahmudullah has led the team from the front

In Mahmudullah, Bangladesh have a leader who is not afraid of raising his game in pressure moments, while also allowing youngsters the space to grow and learn on their own accord. He has consistently rescued the side from poor starts against both Australia and New Zealand and was the only half-centurion from the side across those two series. The only Bangladesh cricketer to play 100 T20Is, Mahmudullah often took the innings deep with the top order often struggling to get going.

His captaincy, too, has left players impressed. In the first game against Australia, Nasum sent down two short balls, which immediately prompted Shakib to go up to the youngster and ask him to bowl fuller. However, the skipper intervened and asked Shakib to give the bowler some space. “Mahmudullah bhai told Shakib bhai to let me bowl my way,” Nasum said after picking 4-19.

“He (Mahmudullah) gives us space and that is one of his biggest strengths as a leader. He is not very imposing and always backed us to play our natural game and tells us not to worry too much about the result,” another national cricketer told Cricbuzz.

With inspired bowling changes through the series, Mahmudullah has impressed the head coach as well, and the increasing self-belief of the players under him could make Bangladesh a team to watch out for.

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