Asia Cup: Time for India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan to be scared of Bangladesh

first_imgIt looks like Asia has one more cricketing superpower in the making. For so long, it was the trio of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka who had dominated cricket in the subcontinent. Out of 12 editions of the Asia Cup, India and Sri Lanka have each won five times while Pakistan lifted the trophy twice.  Bangladesh were considered minnows in the previous tournaments and they did nothing to change that tag in the last edition either. The dreadful campaign in 2014 saw them finishing last behind Afghanistan in the points table.  (Asia Cup: Don’t take Bangladesh lightly, Ravi Shastri warns India)However, cut to 2016 and Bangladesh are ready to take on the Asian giants. And the recent results, series wins against Pakistan, India and South Africa at home, Banglacesh are no longer minnows at home at least. And this Asia Cup will be played in the Tigers’ den.Bangladesh cricket has been in the middle of its most exciting period over the last one-and-a-half years. (Virat Kohli appreciates Mustafizur Rahman’s growing stature in international cricket) It all started with Bangladesh pacer Rubel Hossain’s yorker to England tailender James Anderson that caused a big upset at the 2015 World Cup. Bangladesh looked different after that win. They showed the kind of ruthlessness nobody had expected from Bangladesh. Even in the quarterfinal, they did not go down against India without a real fight. (Asia Cup T20: United Arab Emirates qualify for main draw) Their resurgence did not hit a roadblock thereafter. They went ahead and proved that their World Cup heroics were no fluke. Mashrafe Mortaza’s men began their brilliant run at home defeating Pakistan in the ODI series. A cleansweep in the three-match ODI series meant Pakistan were the hosts’ first victims.advertisementMore joy followed for the home fans when MS Dhoni’s men were toppled. Questions were asked about Dhoni’s efficiency after a humiliating defeat in Bangladesh, thanks to a rejuvenated pace attack led by youngster Mustafizur Rahman, who finished with 13 wickets from three matches.Even the mighty Proteas faced the same fate when they toured Bangladesh in July. The hosts came back from behind to clinch a historic win against the Hashim Amla-led team. Mortaza’s men made it a perfect year at home beating Zimbabwe 3-0 in November.After a dream year at home, Bangladesh are motivated to get their graph going further upwards. They have selected a full-strength squad for the tournament.Bangladesh’s impressive, young pace attack stole the show last year and Mustafizur, Taskin Ahmed and newcomer Abu Hider would look to keep their reputation intact.The batting looks solid. Bangladesh’s top-order batsmen are not afraid of cutting loose early on. They had given the team flying starts against India and South Africa in the ODI series at home. Soumya Sarkar was fiery against India in the three-match series. The ever-dependable Shakib Al Hasan, with his left-arm spinners, will be a big threat to top batsmen. The middle-order has been bolstered considerably with the presence of the big-hitting Sabir Rahman and Mahmudullah.Quite a few a players have earned their berths after good performances in the Bangladesh Premier League. Imrul Kayes was among the leading run-scores in the league, which had top-flight cricketers from across the globe. Hider, the talented young pacer, who pocketed 21 wickets, was the find of the tournament.Bangladesh certainly have the firepower to go the distance. They are banking on their fifty-over form and their BBL experience to make it count in the Asia Cup, which will be played in the Twenty20 format for the first time ever.However, the lack of enough T20 international matches might hurt them. Bangladesh have played only four T20Is this year and that too against a lesser-ranked Zimbabwewhile India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have prepared for the high-profile tournament by playing against top-ranked teams.All said and done, T20 cricket is all about seizing the momentum. Bangladesh will be hoping to do exactly that. A good run in this year’s Asia Cup will help them shed their ‘Asian-minnows’ tag.Can they win the tournament and not just hearts this time?Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (Captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Arafat Sunny, Abu Hider, Nurul Hasanlast_img read more