Bangladesh, a sporadic giant-killer in the World Cup

The tide started turning in 1997, when Bangladesh won the ICC Trophy and qualified for its maiden ICC World Cup, held in the UK, in 1999.

The President of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, Nazmul Hasan Papon (right), and captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza display the team jersey for the 2019 World Cup.   -  AFP

Bangladesh was East Pakistan before it got independence from Pakistan in 1971. When it was a part of Pakistan, it hosted Test matches, but, as Bangladesh it had to start afresh. It became a Associate Member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 1977 and slowly worked its way up.

Bangladesh’s debut ODI came in the Asia Cup against Pakistan in 1986, but it was confined to the Asian set-up for many years.

The tide started turning in 1997, when Bangladesh won the ICC Trophy and qualified for its maiden ICC World Cup, held in the UK, in 1999.

Upset of the first order

Back in the day in England, security wasn’t as stringent. Spectators would celebrate the completion of a cricket match by storming into the ground.

On May 31, 1999 in Northampton, the Pakistan No. 11 Shoaib Akhtar could barely look at the screen for the third umpire’s decision, for Bangladesh supporters had taken over the field.

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Shoaib knew that Saqlain Mushtaq was run out, but losing to Bangladesh? It was indeed surreal as the minnows beat the tournament favourite by 62 runs. This upset paved the way for Bangladesh becoming a Full Member of the International Cricket Council and earning Test status in 2000.

Captain Aminul Islam had become a national hero, but the match against Pakistan belonged to Khaled Mahmud, who scored 27 runs and picked up three wickets with his right-arm seam.

The nightmare

In the African wild in 2003, Bangladesh roped in a few young faces who matched strengths with the experienced players. The side had a flamboyant vibe but it took four years to mature. It lost five out of six games — one washed out — in South Africa to finish its campaign on a downslide. The defeats to Canada and Kenya hurt the most.

Habibul Bashar and Mashrafe Mortaza cut their teeth in this tournament and started a redevelopment drive.

Bangladesh fans storm the pitch after their team had stunned Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup. This was Bangladesh’s first appearance in the event.   -  Getty Images

 

The shock factor

Cut to 2007 in the Caribbean, Bangladesh was in the Calypso mood as soon as it landed. Under Bashar’s captaincy, the men in green fired bullets at India ensuring the favourite was knocked out in the group stage itself.

The whole of Bangladesh celebrated the victory as it came against a star-studded Indian side featuring legends such as Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, the captain.

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Mortaza claimed 4/38 as Bangladesh dismissed India for 191. Fifties by Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim took the side home with five wickets in hand. Bangladesh caused another upset in the Super Eight stage of the tournament when it beat South Africa by 67 runs. Bangladesh lost the remaining games but the opponents had stopped taking it easy.

Forgettable 2011

This time, Shakib — the bright all-rounder who was on the verge of being the best in the world — was handed the captaincy, but Bangladesh had a torrid time in the middle. Despite being a co-host of the tournament along with India and Sri Lanka, the Tigers kept suffering in their own jungle.

Being dismissed for 58 and 78 against West Indies and South Africa respectively punctured their self-belief. Strange that the same side scored 283 against India — though in a losing cause — and beat England by two wickets.

The ‘no ball’ year

Four years ago in Melbourne, Bangladesh played its first-ever knockout match in the World Cup against India. It was the best chance to enter the history books but the Mortaza-led side lost by 109 runs.

The post match reactions caused pandemonium among cricket enthusiasts. The umpires were pulled up for calling a Rubel Hossain low full-toss a no ball. The delivery had Rohit Sharma — then batting at 90 — caught at deep mid-wicket.

The India opener scored a century, 137, helping India to 302. Bangladesh finished at 193 all out.

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That was the quarterfinal.

Going into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Bangladesh would like to remember the road to the quarterfinal, if not that game. It had beaten England again, for the second time in the big-ticket event. The Englishmen were knocked out of the tournament after the 15-run loss — courtesy Mahmudullah Riyadh (103) and Rubel 4/53 — in Adelaide.

That’s Bangladesh. Ferocious and unpredictable.