Bangladesh improve by leaps and bounds

Published: Monday, April 9, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Congratulations Bangladesh; not just for beating South Africa and justifying your place in the Super Eights but also for learning your lessons. A good team is identified by the pace at which it rectifies its mistakes and Bangladesh has shown that they want to improve and improve fast.

When Bangladesh beat India most of us dismissed it as a ''one-off bad day'' for India. Not many were willing to give credit to Bangladesh. They did not complain. True, they lost the next two matches convincingly but then the same team has now thrashed South Africa most comprehensively.

A victory can transform the approach of a team because it is all about winning. Who wants to support a loser? This World Cup has shown that Bangladesh has finally arrived. By taming India and South Africa the Tigers have demonstrated their progress in a strong statement that will bring credibility and respect to their cricket.

Having watched them struggle all these years, I am glad to see that Bangladesh have started to assert. They have scored victories against top teams like Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa and need to expand their range. And they will, because they are a bunch of youngsters out to be counted among the best in the world.

It is a good development that a victory for Bangladesh evokes praise and does not necessarily raise suspicions. Bangladesh has the capacity of slamming the top teams of the world and South Africa has just learnt a few lessons the hard way. The big victory in Guyana will go a long way in boosting Bangladesh's morale.

This World Cup has seen three upsets and two of them have come from Bangladesh. Both their upsets have been crafted from the confidence that they developed by playing regularly against the big teams. What stands out for Bangladesh is the collective effort of the experienced campaigners and the youngsters dreaming of making a mark.

Bangladesh had won a few matches in the past too, but these two victories in the World Cup will bring about a tremendous change in their approach to the game. These victories will create a new sports culture in a country that has begun to find new heroes, because their Tigers have outclassed two favourites of this year's mega event - India and South Africa.

India lies severely wounded and South Africa stands deeply embarrassed. The margin of defeat was too huge for South Africa to look for any excuses.

The more Bangladesh plays against the top teams the more they will improve as a team. The hard work of last five years is showing in the results and the investment in the juniors is also starting to paint a new picture of Bangladesh as a team to watch in the near future. The game will become more popular in Bangladesh and the pool of players will also increase, which in turn will mean healthy competition for places.

Watching Bangladesh overcome South Africa I saw the significance of playing to your strength and also the importance of keeping your faith in quality. The innings of 87 by Mohammad Ashraful will always be remembered by the Bangladesh cricket lovers for its timing. It will remain priceless because it came at a time when it mattered so much and it was built on a sound self-belief.

Ashraful has always been talked of highly by his countrymen and this was the stage for him to bring joy to the nation. He did it in a style that spoke of the young man's ability to raise the quality of his cricket. This is a trait that confirms Ashraful's potential.

He is a wonderful batsman but needs to concentrate on consistency too. Bangladesh cricket would be richer if youngsters like Ashraful recognize the value of consistency.

I liked the way Bangladesh has played to its strength by including three spinners in their playing eleven. Abdur Razzak, Mohammad Rafique and Saqibul Hasan bowled the right line and served their team with distinction by conceding just 96 runs from nearly 30 overs they shared as South Africa made a desperate effort to salvage their pride in difficult conditions.

Each victory that Bangladesh scores is an indication that cricket is progressing in the right direction. Let us applaud and give credit to a team that is not yet a champion outfit but promises to be one in the future.


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