Women’s World T20: How Bangladesh women turned heads

Three Indians — head coach Anju Jain, assistant coach Devika Palshikar and physiotherapist Anuja Dalvi — caused a sea change in the Bangladesh women’s cricket team.

Bangladesh players pose for a picture after arriving in the Caribbean for the World T20.   -  TWITTER/ ICC@WorldT20

 

From a no-hoper to one of the talked about teams — Bangladesh’s women cricketers have seen it all in the last couple of years. Coming from nowhere, the team has been able to put top teams under pressure and has also dared to beat India in the final of the Asia Cup.

And that’s one of the reasons why Bangladesh is being taken quite seriously as it enters the Women’s World T20, which begins in the Caribbean on Friday.

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Ahead of the tournament, Bangladesh’s coach, Anju Jain — who happens to be one of the prominent names of Indian women’s cricket circuit — has set a few goals for the side. “We had set ourselves a few goals in the past few series and qualifiers. We are going with the same mindset here. It is going to be the same this time. Main thing will be to improve our game,” Jain told Sportstar from Guyana.

Jain, who has played a key role in bringing about a change in Bangladesh team, also admits that the objective of the team is to have a top-four or top-six finish. “In that way, there will be no need to play any qualifiers from now on. That’s our target,” the coach pointed out.

Until a few years ago, Bangladesh beating India was unimaginable and now that this side has done the unthinkable, that too twice, Jain says the confidence has gone up. “It has given a lot of confidence to the girls. It is no longer about just participating in a tournament, it is about making your presence felt. After those two wins, the side is confident. The mindset is changing as they are confident of taking on any side,” the coach said.

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The conditions in West Indies are quite similar to that of India and Bangladesh and Jain feels that the tracks will help the spinners. “For Bangladesh, we have night games, so the heat factor does not come into play, but yes, the dew is a major factor for us,” the former India cricketer said.

But then, she admits that playing in the World Cup is a different challenge and it is necessary to build on the confidence. “The goal is to keep on improving. It is still a very young side, so they will keep learning and improving after every game. That’s what we will keep in mind.”

Maintaining the core

There has not been much of a change in terms of players, the support staff; maintaining the ‘core’ has helped the team immensely. “We have been continuously playing for the last few months and have only got time to prepare in the last month and a half. The idea was to keep a short squad, so that we can work on the players better and even they can get more clarity on their goals,” she said.

While Ritumani and Lata Mandal have made it to the squad for the World T20, the rest of the team remain the same from that of the Asia Cup. “The core remains the same for us and that should help us.”

When Jain along with two other Indians — Devika Palshikar, the assistant coach, and Anuja Dalvi, the physiotherapist — took charge some six months ago, not many thought the team would go through a sea change.

But that’s what girls from Bangladesh have done. They have not only lifted their game but has also forced the world to take their game seriously.

It’s all about making its presence felt.