The sweet memories of ABCD would inspire Bengal Tigers when they take on English Lions today in the inaugural match of ICC Champions trophy 2017 at the Oval, London. Team Tigers would be playing against host and one of the tournament favorites England.
Bangladesh has sweet memories of beating England in the past in One Day Internationals at Bristol (England), Chittagong (Bangladesh), Adelaide (Australia) and Dhaka (Bangladesh). Two of these wins at Chittagong (2011) and Adelaide (2015) were in ICC World Cups.
It is true that England now has a very strong ODI team and at home is a very difficult team to play against but forgetting the nightmare of the previous practice match at the same venue Bangladesh in recent times have shown enough skills against major oppositions for turning the table on the host.
We have noted that English press has termed team Tigers as Banana Skins for the English team at the launching of their mission for the championship. During the last two meets in ICC events, Bangladesh scratched English pride at Chittagong in 2011 and more recently at Adelaide in 2015.
Bengal Tigers knocked out English Lions that was what Nasser Hussain was heard saying after the match when Rubel Hossain wrapped up English innings to the joy of the Adelaide Oval crowd shouting for the Tigers.
Our longtime friend, great personality of Bangladesh cricket was full of joy eye witnessing the historic win. He relayed to the writer from his hospitality box the turning outs of Bengal Tigers. Our Aussie friend John Chambers echoed our war cry Joy Bangla after the win. Among few other personalities, State Minister (Energy) Nasrul Hamid, Secretary (Energy) Nazimuddin Chowdhury, Secretary Forest & Environment Istiaq Ahmed and Director General Power Cell Engr. Mohammad Hossain were with us in a car in Brisbane.
We were on training tour of Bangladesh Energy Sector high level policy makers in Queensland on the day. We celebrated the victory with dinner at a Turkish Restaurant on the South Bank of the Brisbane River.
Incidentally when Bengal Tigers take on English Lions again today at the Oval, this writer is in Brisbane again. Unfortunately, it will be almost Sehri time here when match finishes. Hope we can have a grand Iftar tomorrow.
When the teams lock horns today at the Oval they would appear with almost similar experience of recent international matches in the ground. English batting order was almost blown out by South Africans pace battery in the third ODI as did by the Indian pacers to Bangladesh batting in the practice match.
On green top wickets, favoring deceptive lateral movements and in swinging condition under cloud cover this can happen to any sub continental team in first appearance after some time.
Brushing that nightmares aside teams would look to start on positive notes. Team winning the match would have great opportunity of moving all the way as the two other teams of the group Australia and New Zealand would be difficult opponents dealing with.
England, in recent visit to Bangladesh, won the hard contested ODI series 2-1 and two matches Test series was drawn 1-1. The team’s composition are almost the same excepting English captain Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales rejoining the sqaud. They opted out from Bangladesh tour.
The condition is vastly different. But Bangladesh staying over a month there must have acclimatized. If the sun shines it will be a great match to remember. We are sure Bangladesh under enigmatic Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is not going to throw the towel so easily. The bitter memory of the one off match against India would not haunt them we believe as seniors in the team have seen lot of these.
England has got few quality batsmen. Jason Roy and Alex Hales are tried and tested opening batsmen. Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Mustafizur Rahman, with controlled seam movement and subtle variations, may cause early strikes. Bringing in brilliant Root early at the wicket and testing him with new ball would be the key. If any of these three stay longer that may bother Bangladesh.
We are unsure of whether Mehedi Hasan Miraz would get much response from the wicket or not. But his accuracy, straighter deliveries would cause issues. And there is always the pace and yorkers of Rubel Hossain to test English batting. Captain Morgan is in great touch.
Shakib and co. must bowl tight at teasing length and line. English middle to late order may be suspected to reverse swing that Rubel may produce and mystery deliveries that Mustafiz is known for. Yet Ben Stokes, Buttler, Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes must be shackled with good bowling and tight fielding.
Bangladesh batting has to deal with early seam and swing of English pace attack. Chris Woakes, Liam Plunket and Ben Stokes must be handled with care. Hope Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar can see off new balls as priority before launching counter attacks.
The number three position must be carefully reviewed. Sabbir Rahman, with his suspected foot works against swing bowling may not be risked if Bangladesh loose wicket early. If openers can give good start then Sabbir is ok to build on. But otherwise Bangladesh under plan B should play Mahmudullah Riyad at three. Sabbir can be slotted at 6 after Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan.
We hope Bangladesh will handle Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali well. Fielding will be a key. Bangladesh cannot afford letting batsmen like Root, Morgan or Stokes playing more than one innings dropping catches. The fielding of Tigers have been inconsistent. They have taken some blinders but dropped many easier ones off late. Hope team management has ironed this out by now.
We are not sure about the nature of Oval wicket that will be used. But traditionally it favors seam and if there is cloud cover, would swing as well. Bangladesh may appear with four seamers. But Taskin Ahmed looked rusty in last match. He must bowl in right channel.
Hope Mashrafe rises to the occasion as well. Shakib desperately needs to fire. The heroes of Bangladesh success in recent times against England, Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Rubel Hossain must be rearing to go. English batsmen has not played Mustafizur yet. Hope Mash uses his tramp card well.
We are all waiting for an exciting Tiger Lion battle for supremacy. Go tiger go.
Khondkar Saleque Sufi is an eminent Research Fellow of Monash University, Australia, He was the former Advisor at Ministry of Mines & Petroleum of Republic of Afghanistan and Deputy General Manager of Bakhrabad Gas Systems Ltd.