The popularity of cricket started to grow rapidly in Bangladesh following India’s triumph in the 1983 World Cup.
As a Bangladesh fan, I’m hurt by that loss to the Kiwis. And I’m sure the players are as well, especially Mushfiqur Rahim.
Fans and Mushfiq himself will be dwelling on what might have been if he just kept his gloves behind the stumps instead of in front of them – most likely a Bangladesh win considering how poor New Zealand were, bar Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson.
The dwelling won’t stop until our next game against England on Saturday in Cardiff.
Both teams are coming off losses, with England’s defeat to Pakistan causing a negative reaction in the English media. Surprise surprise. And it doesn’t get any easier after their loss to the most unpredictable side as they encounter the second most unpredictable side.
The last time these two nations met at the World Cup was on March 9, 2015 at the Adelaide Oval. Don’t ever mention that day to an English cricket fan – it’s the equivalent of November 29, 1997 to a Socceroos fan.
But March 9, 2015 to me and many Bengali fans is what November 16, 2005 is to a Socceroos fan – they’ll tell you where they were, what they were wearing, you name it, they’ll tell you.
I’ll tell you where I was. I came back home from school five overs after play began and connected my laptop to a HDMI cable. Bangladesh had lost two early wickets before Soumya Sarkar and Mahmudullah steadied the ship.
They lost their way to 4/99 but Mahmudullah became the first Bengali to score a ton at the World Cup and Mushfiqur Rahim smashed a 77-ball 89 as Bangladesh ended up with 275-7.
England couldn’t lose this game or else they would be knocked out in the group stages, and Bangladesh would go through to the quarter-finals. England were cruising at 2/121 before Rubel Hossain’s double strike put Eoin Morgan’s side on the back foot.
The Poms were always playing catch-up before their torturous campaign could go no further as Bangladesh qualified for their first World Cup quarter-final.
Surprisingly, Bangladesh lead the head-to-head record in World Cup matches against England 2-1.
The Bangladesh think tank will be frustrated that Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar haven’t converted their starts into bigger scores as they average 20 and 33.5 respectively this World Cup.
One of these two openers needs to play a long innings in Cardiff to ensure Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur aren’t having to come in during the power play or at two wickets for less than 100.
Everyone knows Tamim’s class and England have had to deal with some of his masterclasses in red and white ball cricket. Soumya Sarkar is averaging at 52 as an opener this year at a strike rate of around 112 so hopefully it’s only a matter of time before he converts his starts.
I’m backing both openers to provide a similar start to the stand they made against South Africa, but one of them has to cash in and bat for 30-odd overs.
Mashrafe Mortaza is seriously struggling with the ball and needs to contribute with wickets, or at the very least, applying pressure at one end.
Once again the reliance on wickets will fall to Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Saifuddin and Shakib Al Hasan. With Cardiff usually suiting the seamers, Rubel Hossain could possibly come in for either Mosaddek Hossain or Mehedi Hasan Miraz.
Jonny Bairstow not firing yet is scary as it’s only a matter of time before he hits his strides. He’s too dangerous of a player not to score runs throughout the tournament.
The English have shown that they’re going to be playing their ultra-aggressive brand of cricket, so the onus is on Joe Root and Eoin Morgan to hold the innings together while the likes of Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali play their natural games.
Jofra Archer has been a breath of fresh air for England. The extra pace he brings and his ability with the bat really makes him the X-factor.
Bangladesh’s openers have to avoid getting sucked into taking on his surprise bouncers. He did have an off day against Pakistan and hopefully he has another one.
Adil Rashid is another threat as he has a knack of taking wickets despite bowling so many long hops.
The Tigers have shown that even when they’re completely out of the game, they’ll push the opposition to the end and push them to earn their victory as shown against New Zealand.
The ghosts of Adelaide 2015 will be in the back of the minds of the players who were there that night.
Whether that affects the Poms or not is another story. But Mashrafe Mortaza’s men will not back down without a fight.