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Bangladesh's WC flop sparks calls for change

AFP . Dhaka
01 Nov 2023 09:56:48 | Update: 01 Nov 2023 18:33:25
Bangladesh's WC flop sparks calls for change
Shakib Al Hasan (C) reacts at the end of the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) match between Pakistan and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on October 31, 2023 — AFP Photo

Bangladesh's dismal performance at the World Cup has sparked calls for wholesale changes from dragging players out of their comfort zones to a radical transformation of a domestic set-up too often plagued by allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Bangladesh became the first country to be eliminated from the World Cup when they crashed to a seven-wicket defeat to Pakistan in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Pakistan swept to victory with 105 balls to spare leaving Bangladesh out of contention with two rounds of matches left to play.

Shaheen Shah Afridi grabbed three wickets while openers Fakhar Zaman and Abdullah Shafique cracked half-centuries as Pakistan stormed victory over Bangladesh on Tuesday to stay afloat in the race for a World Cup semi-final place.

Shaheen's 3-23 helped Pakistan dismiss Bangladesh for just 204 in 45.1 overs before Zaman's 74-ball 81 and Shafique's 69-ball 68 guided Pakistan over the line for the loss of three wickets with 105 balls to spare.

The victory revived Pakistan's outside hopes of reaching the semi-finals with six points from seven matches. 

They still need to win against New Zealand (November 4 in Bengaluru) and England (Kolkata on November 11) and also hope other results go their way if they are to stay in the tournament.

In contrast, Bangladesh became the first side to crash out of the 10-team event with just one win from seven games.

They started the tournament well enough, beating Afghanistan by six wickets.

However, they then lost six consecutive matches, which not only ended their semi-final chances but also put the side's qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy in jeopardy.

Bangladesh lost to England by 137 runs, New Zealand by eight wickets, India by seven wickets, South Africa by 149 runs and to non-Test playing Netherlands by 87 runs before Pakistan put them out of their misery.

Bangladesh went to the World Cup after finishing third in the Super League qualification tournament just behind New Zealand and defending champions England.

But many of the games they won were on home turf, where low and slow wickets suited the team's playing style.

"We have seen a rapid transformation in international cricket, where you may need to hit four sixes in an over and bowl very accurately," said Bishwajit Roy, sports editor of the Daily Star newspaper.

"Bangladesh players could not develop the required skill due to playing consistently on low and slow wickets at home."

'Appear helpless'

Highly-regarded local coach Nazmul Abedin Fahim suggested Bangladesh restructure its domestic cricket to create a challenging environment for players that would benefit them in the international arena.

Poor wickets, substandard umpiring, and allegations of match-fixing often mar Bangladesh's domestic game.

"We must address the core problem instead of looking at the periphery," said Fahim.

"Our players don't face challenges in local cricket. As a result, they appear helpless in international matches. We should change it and ensure they get better coaching in local cricket as well," he told AFP.

Their overseas form has also exposed a gulf between Bangladesh's domestic cricket and international results.

Anamul Haque and Mohammad Naim, two of the top run-getters in the previous two seasons of the Dhaka Premier League, failed to grab a spot in the World Cup squad.

Bangladesh were the last team to announce a 15-man squad, less than 24 hours before the players' departure for India.

Controversy over the axing of Tamim Iqbal and captain Shakib Al Hasan's subsequent verbal attack on the batsman created an unsettled environment.

That was reflected in performances. In a tournament which has witnessed record and rapid run-getting, Bangladesh's highest total was just 256 against India.

Several players who have served the team for nearly two decades are set to end their careers very soon.

Captain Shakib Al Hasan and batsmen Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah are unlikely to play in another World Cup.

Mahmudullah is Bangladesh's top run scorer at the World Cup but he will be 38 in February.

Out-of-favour opening batsman Tamim, who was overlooked for the World Cup, is also nearing the end of his career.