Bangladesh may have never won the Asia Cup till date, but they are definitely in with a strong chance this time round. They had made it to the final in 2012, when Pakistan edged them out in a thriller. Since then though their limited overs fortunes have only been on the rise. In recent times, they have registered maiden ODI series wins against both India and Pakistan at home, which seemed a distant dream a few years back. The historic wins will undoubtedly inspire the hosts as they come face to face with the Asian giants once again.
Unlike previous years though this event will be a T20 one, keeping in mind the upcoming World T20. The format will definitely be a challenge for Bangladesh, since they haven’t played as much competitive international T20s as some of the other Asian sides. Almost all the key members of the team though have some experience of playing in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), and some of them are even part of the high-profile Indian Premier League (IPL). Still, it is a fact that Bangladesh’s international staple consists mainly of Tests and ODIs, and so it will be important for them to make the T20 adjustments.
Bangladesh have a good mix of experience and youth in their side, and they will be looking forward to significant contributions from both. With Tamim Iqbal not part of the Asia Cup, Bangladesh’s batting has been dealt with a big blow. In his absence, the likes of Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar will have to take additional responsibility. Both have been around on the international scene for a few seasons now, and will be expected to come good especially at home. In T20s, the top order can often make the difference, which is why a lot will depend on the two.
The hosts of the Asia Cup have been lucky to be blessed with a few all-rounders, who can win games with bat and ball. Shakib Al Hasan, without doubt, is the first name that comes to mind. His experience in the IPL for KKR could count for a lot. Then, there are also likes of Sabbir Rahman and Nasir Hossain, who have chipped in consistently with the bat in the ODIs in recent times, apart from claiming key wickets with their spin. The variety in their spin also gives edge to the Bangladesh bowling. Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza too can chip in with the bat.
Looking at Bangladesh’s bowling, they have a rather competent unit. The young Mustafizur Rahman made a name for himself with some fantastic performances on debut against India, and since, he has been a vital part of the team’s bowling unit. Taskin Ahmed is a pacy customer, who impressed during the World Cup last year, and can be rather slippery at times. Then, of course, there is the experienced Mortaza himself, apart from the spinning all-rounders mentioned above. In spite of having a capable outfit, Bangladesh wouldn’t begin as favourites. At the same, they are too strong to be written off as contenders.
--By A Cricket Analyst