Bangladesh fans have a hard time. After two decades of being labelled minnows or underdogs it’s often hard for their team to be seen as serious contenders in major competitions.
And they find themselves in a similar position in the forthcoming Champions Trophy – a tournament, in England, that features the top eight international sides. At 50-1, bookmakers make Bangladesh the least likely team to win.
The next least likely are Sri Lanka at 20-1, meaning that whilst they are still unlikely to win, they’re twice as likely to do it compared to Bangladesh.
But fans have a team to support. Yes, all reasonable predictions make Bangladesh rank outsiders, but a fan’s job is not to be reasonable. It’s to be illogical, passionate and optimistic about their team. Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992, Sri Lanka in 1996. Both against the odds. Bangladesh could do the same in 2017.
There will be plenty of articles written during the tournament offering balanced, logical and statistical previews – this is not one of them.
This is written for the optimistic Bangladesh fan. The fan who wants their team to do well, but doesn’t know what to say during a cricket conversation. The fan who needs a comeback during a debate and then fan who needs to justify why they believe Bangladesh will win.
This article will guide you through the group stages of the Champions Trophy and explain why Bangladesh could beat each of the sides they come up against. These are not balanced arguments, but they’re not meant to be. A fan only needs to focus on why they think their team will win.
This is a what Bangladesh fans need to say during the Champions Trophy.
Match One: England v Bangladesh, 1st June, The Oval
England have a lot to shout about. The opening match of a tournament in which they are favourites, on home soil in a match against the rank outsiders.
But Bangladesh fans have plenty of in the tank to make their case. Perhaps most impressively; they have beaten England at the last two World Cups (the winning moment from 2011, pictured above) – demonstrating that they perform best when on a big platform.
They’ve also won four out of the last seven one day matches and the last time the two teams met, Bangladesh achieved a historic test victory. Fans can also argue that Bangladesh should have won the last one day series between the two sides – in the first match Bangladesh were on course for victory before six wickets fell for seventeen runs handing England victory.
The conditions will overwhelmingly favour England – but Bangladesh have been training on green pitches, in the UK, since April and will have had plenty of time to iron out a masterplan.
They also have players who will enjoy playing against England; Tamim Iqbal’s name is on the Honours Board at Lord’s, Mahmudullah has looked back in form in the warm up matches and Mustafizur Rahman will be itching to bowl against England, having perplexed every other team he’s come up against.
This match is meant to be the curtain raiser for a festival of cricket, but Bangladesh could well ruin the party.
Match Two: Australia v Bangladesh, 5th June, The Oval
Bangladesh and Australia have faced each other twenty times in one day cricket. Australia have won on nineteen of those occasions and so it may seem optimistic for fans suggest that Bangladesh stand a chance against the world number two ranked side.
But here’s the thing – they haven’t played a one day match against each other in six years – and given the progress Bangladesh have made since then, it could be argued that this is anyone’s game.
Bangladesh fans also have a valid argument that their team can win this game through experience. Seven of the Bangladesh team from that match six years ago feature in their Champions Trophy Squad. And although that makes them sound like veterans, most are in their late twenties and the peak of their career. Compare that to the Australian squad – who only have two survivors from that game.
None of Australia’s squad have played 100 ODIs, five of Bangladesh’s have. What you have is an experienced Bangladesh team who have grown and won matches and found rhythm and balance as a team, whilst Australia have since had to rebuild themselves.
Australia are a formidable side – but Bangladesh go into the match with more experience, nerves and maturity than they’ve ever had.
The one-time Bangladesh beat Australia was in the UK. Now, it would be naïve to suggest that a win, back in 2005 (pictured above), would direct and literal bearing on the result of a match in 2017, but if you do find yourself in a tricky conversation about this match – that match is the break glass for emergency.
Match Three: New Zealand v Bangladesh, 9th June, Sophia Gardens
This match happens in Cardiff – the last time Bangladesh were there was that famous victory over Australia in 2005. And whilst the opponent may be different – the nostalgia and history of that win will buoy the Bangladesh team and should give fans inspiration.
At the 2015 World Cup New Zealand were brilliant, beating Sri Lanka by 98 runs and England by 8 wickets. They also beat Bangladesh, but it was a significantly closer contest that could have gone either way.
Black cap fans will tell you that Bangladesh were in New Zealand at the end of 2016 and lost all three one day matches. This is true and they played badly, often throwing away good starts, but this is something this is something they’ve looked to address since.
But all Bangladesh fans really need to bring up is that they have whitewashed New Zealand twice. In home series in 2010 and again in 2013 Bangladesh won every match between the two sides.
Historically Bangladesh have only beaten New Zealand eight times out of twenty-nine matches – but at the end of 2016, six of them had come in their last ten meetings.
All of this, is of course subjective – but Bangladesh fans know that they can get through cricket conversations with dignity and solid arguments. Who will actually win on the day?
Bangladesh fans will believe that their team can win every on of these gamesIn reality these matches could go either way and if odds are to believed; Bangladesh will be heading home after these matches. What should fans say if their team progresses beyond the group stage? Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it.
Written By: Roushan Alam (https://twitter.com/roushanalam).