Year review: Bangladesh cricket in 2020
Year 2020 could have been a big year for Bangladesh cricket. Everything went smooth until all entered the new normal.
2020 had promised an ample of matches for Bangladesh men’s team. However, it was limited to just five T20Is (one abandoned), three ODIs and two Test matches. The pandemic ate up around two-thirds of their matches scheduled in the year.
What could have been the first occurance of Bangladesh playing ten Tests in a calendar year in their 20-year history, they ended up only with two – just like what happened in 2012 and 2016.
Yet in the toughest year in a long time, Bangladesh cricket has had a few good memories to cherish.
Akbar and co.’s World Cup win
On February the 9th, a new history was written in Potchefstroom. After all dreams and heartbreaks throughout its history, Bangladesh would finally claim themselves as proud World champions. An exciting side led by Akbar Ali, put an end to India jinx with a three-wicket victory in a thrilling fashion in the rain-affected final of the U-19 World Cup.
The World Cup triumph gave Bangladesh hopes of finding possible next big things: captain Akbar himself, pacer Shoriful Islam, spinner Rakibul Islam and opener Tanzid Hasan Tamim.
A historic Pakistan tour
For the first time in 12 years, Bangladesh men’s team landed on Pakistani soil in January. The tour was split into three legs: three T20Is in January, first Test in February, and one-off ODI and the second Test in April. Mahmudullah Riyad-led Bangladesh lost the T20Is 0-2 with the last one being washed out. Later Pakistan defeated the Tigers in the first Test by an innings margin.
The third leg was postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak. The World Test Championship counts the Test series as 0.5 series, a ridiculous number of series teams could ever play.
Tigresses fail in Australia
Salma Khatun’s Bangladesh lost all of Group A matches to India, Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Although a golden chance stood upfront in the match against the Kiwis, having them bundled out for 91, but Bangladesh women returned with 74 allout at Junction Oval, Melbourne.
Old friend back in the house and so victories and records
Zimbabwe toured Bangladesh, a team that was wounded with big defeats as well as suffering the absence of a big player, in February-March.
Mushfiqur Rahim’s third double hundred, Mominul Haque’s first Test ton as captain and Nayeem Hasan’s brilliance saw Bangladesh tasting an innings victory for the second time in the history. The win in the one-off Test ended six-match losing streak.
There was more to come. Tamim Iqbal broke his own record of 154 by adding four more runs in the second ODI in Sylhet. The 154 lasted as national record for 11 years. Would it take another ten or eleven years to cross 158? Liton Das said no. Having scored his third ODI century, second in the series, Liton slammed 176 two days after Tamim had made 158. Tamim, too, scored a hundred, adding a record 292 runs for the first wicket in the final ODI.
The match was also Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s last ODI as captain. The Tigers bid a fitting farewell to the ‘captain’ Mash with a 3-0 sweep. This was also the first time Bangladesh had put three 300-plus totals in a three-match series.
This was followed by a 2-0 win in the T20Is, completing a 6-0 whitewash in the tour. Thanks to Liton again who was the player of the series for the second consecutive time.
What next? Stay home!
After just one round of Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League, the doors were shut. A few weeks earlier people had been having a regular life with Bangladesh winnings matches and setting up records, everything came to a standstill. Although that did not stop the new ODI skipper Tamim from trying to get out of the skin and add smiles to fans’ faces. He hosted live shows on his social handles having guests Faf du Plessis, Wasim Akram, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson as well as Bangladesh’s current and ex cricketers.
Bangladesh hit hard by postponements
The COVID crisis eventually ended Bangladesh’s 2020 in March. No more international cricket was played then. Be it men’s team, women’s team or U-19s.
Aside Asia Cup T20 and T20 World Cup, Bangladesh men missed at least 19 international matches in the year. They were: 1 ODI and 1 Test vs Pakistan (away), 3 ODIs and 4 T20Is vs Ireland (in Ireland and England), 2 Tests vs Australia (home), 3 Tests vs Sri Lanka (away), 2 Tests vs New Zealand (home) and 3 ODIs vs Sri Lanka (home).
All full-member teams except Bangladesh and Afghanistan returned to international cricket amid pandemic. A Sri Lankan tour was on the cards but that got pushed further to 2021.
Neither of women’s team or U-19 team could play international cricket after March.
Cricket back at SBNCS
Bangladesh Cricket Board arranged two red-ball matches despite the postponement of possible SL tour. This was followed by successful campaigns of BCB President’s Cup, the unofficial one-dayers, and Bangabandhu T20 Cup. Mahmudullah Riyad had had the last laugh on both occasions, winning for a team named after him – Mahmudullah XI in BCBPC and scoring a 70* to propel Gemcon Khulna to trophy.
BCBPC consisted of three teams while Bangabandhu T20 Cup saw five teams fight in round-robin stage and play-offs. Youngsters grabbed the opportunity to show what they can do. Hundreds from Najmul Hossain Shanto, Parvez Hossain Emon and Naim Sheikh reflected that.
BCB also ensured training camps and intra-squad matches for High Performance Unit and new U-19 team in Mirpur and Sylhet respectively.
Our boy Shakib’s comeback
After an end to 12-month ICC suspension, Shakib returned to professional cricket in the Bangabandhu Cup. Playing for Gemcon Khulna in nine games, he was rusty with the bat, scoring only 110 runs at 12.22. He also took six wickets with the ball in hand.
In late December, ICC named Shakib in its ODI team of the decade as the only Bangladeshi.