What’s more, this Bangladesh ODI team, beaten in controversial circumstances by India in the World Cup quarterfinal in March, have proven that they aren’t the ‘minnow’ flash-in-the-pan giant-killers anymore. The way they’ve outplayed India on home soil over the last four days isn’t something that is achieved by flashes of brilliance, but a sustained display of solid skills over a period of time. After winning the first ODI by 79 runs, they chased down India’s paltry total of 200 with 6 wickets to spare in the second ODI. With the series now at 2-0, Bangladesh have qualified for the next Champions Trophy, and have now won their first ever ODI series against two test-playing nations in quick succession. Both wins came at Mirpur, which will now go down as the venue where Bangladesh transitioned into cricketing adulthood. Their struggle has been long, as had been Sri Lanka’s before the 1996 World Cup, and now—with the perfect balance of senior pros and young guns in the side—they look poised to compete instead of ‘upsetting’ international teams.
The common hero in both the games remained 19-year ODI debutant left-arm quick Mustafizur Rahman. Nobody had heard of him prior to this, except for the lone T20 he played against Pakistan a month ago – where he bowled 16 dots in his 4 over spell and took 2 wickets. Surely, he wasn’t to be taken lightly. In a span of four days, Rahman then took 11 Indian wickets over two games. No bowler has started his career so prolifically, and Rahman’s debut 5-for was followed by an imperious 6-for – in which he got Rohit second ball, before getting Dhoni, Rayadu, Raina, Jadeja and Axar in his second spell. This is, by no means, a fluke spell. Rahman has displayed immense control and temperament for a teenager, and has an odd wrist-coil action just before he delivers the ball – which is where most batsmen get confused about whether he is delivering a slower one or is only generating power with it. Faulkner has the same variation, but he invariably lets a slower one rip when he twists his wrists at the last moment. Rahman has bowled fast straight ones with the same style, and trapped Axar moments after getting Dhoni with a slower one. Rahman is the toast of a nation that has suddenly woken up to the passion and possibilities of international cricket. They see themselves no more as the ‘little brothers’ to India and Pakistan, with their 5-0 record against them this summer. While their test cricket has a while to go before they are competitive, their limited overs team has some genuinely quality bowlers in Taskin, Mortaza, Shakib, Rahman and Robel – all of who stand up in different games, demonstrating a hunger and ability to run through batting orders on momentum and agility alone. They are consistently pumped up, and even all-rounder Nasir Hossain set things up with a stunning spinning spell of less than 3.5 an over, getting Kohli and Dhawan in the process. The Indians never quite looked in control throughout the series, and have now paid the ultimate price for being caught unaware.
They are big brothers no more. Now all they have to do is play for pride—an unfamiliar position they find themselves in, against a team that is sick of playing for pride, and now craves for glory. At home, Bangladesh have been immense – even whitewashing New Zealand a few years ago. Like most Asian teams, they look confident on home soil, and have finally come to terms with the expectations and passion of their own fans.
This Bangladesh 2.0 side, along with the England 2.0 side, could make for an interesting future for limited overs cricket – a format that desperately needs new champions.