ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024: Bangladesh team preview

Can Bangladesh finally shed the title of perennial underachievers and progress to the knockouts of the T20 World Cup?

litton das
Bangladesh have failed to progress to the knockout stages of an ICC T20 World Cup [File: Bikas Das/AP]

Captain: Najmul Hossain Shanto
Fixtures: Sri Lanka (June 7), South Africa (June 10), Netherlands (June 13), Nepal (June 17)
Best finish at T20 World Cup: Second round

Former Bangladesh coach Stuart Law believes the South Asian team must “rethink” their approach towards the game to shed the title of perennial underachievers and leave a mark on the ICC T20 World Cup 2024.

The Bengal Tigers made their ICC tournament debut at the 50-over World Cup in 1999 and stunned favourites Pakistan with a 62-run win in the group stage.

However, 25 years later, they are yet to win a match in the knockout rounds of a World Cup.

“Bangladesh haven’t moved forward in 25 years,” Law told Al Jazeera ahead of the upcoming T20 World Cup.

“Whatever they have been doing hasn’t worked, and they need to find out what needs to happen to make them tick,” the former Australian cricketer said.

Bangladesh open their tournament campaign on June 7 against Sri Lanka, another South Asian nation that has made huge strides since their debut in 1975 by winning both the T20 and 50-over world titles.

Law, who coached Bangladesh’s senior side from 2011 to 2012, believes that the way the game is administered in the country must change.

“Maybe it is time to sit back and think, ‘This is the way we have been doing it, it hasn’t been working, we haven’t moved forward – maybe we need to do it slightly differently’.

“That’s not talking down the current administration, but they need to look at all aspects of the game.”

Bangladesh cricket fans
Bangladesh fans were left heartbroken as their team finished eighth at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in India [File: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

Why do Bangladesh falter at World Cups?

Bangladesh’s squad for the T20 World Cup relies heavily on the experience of their veteran stars Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Litton Das and Mustafizur Rahman.

Law, who was in charge of Bangladesh’s Under-19 set-up until recently, says the young players coming through the system are not built strong enough to meet the big-hitting requirements of the T20 format.

“They are not power athletes, but they are supple so they can bowl fast and they can bowl spin, we all know that,” he explained.

“But they are never going to be powerful athletes like the West Indians or the Australians, who have different upbringings and diets.

“If Bangladesh can nail that young development phase, get them in from the ages of 12 to 16 and give them a good diet and a good grounding of physical fitness, then the world could see a Bangladesh team that is untouchable,” Law told Al Jazeera.

At present, Shanto and his side are reeling from a series loss against a fairly inexperienced United States side in their three-match T20 series ahead of the World Cup.

The tournament’s co-hosts romped home to a five-wicket win against Bangladesh in the opening T20 and followed it up with a six-run win in the second match.

Cricket - ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 - Bangladesh v Sri Lanka - Arun Jaitley Stadium, New Delhi, India - November 6, 2023 Umpire attempts to stop an argument between Bangladesh's Najmul Hossain Shanto and Sri Lanka's Sadeera Samarawickrama REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
Bangladesh captain Najmul Hossain Shanto will look to put his country’s poor history at ICC World Cups behind them in the upcoming tournament [File: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

Law, who played 55 one-day internationals and one Test for Australia, took charge of the US team a few days before the series.

Prior to taking up his new role, the “Lawman” insisted that Bangladesh could fight its way to the top of the rankings if it provides the right diet, training facilities and opportunities to budding cricketers.

“There’s so much talent – there are 171 million people in Bangladesh and they are cricket crazy,” Law said.

“It’s just about unearthing them and forgetting about their social background and upbringing. If they have got talent, let’s start tapping into that talent.”

Bangladesh won the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2020 and have given stiff competition to regional rivals India and Pakistan at the Asian Games, with six medals, including a gold.

Law believes improved the talent identification and coaching will help the cream rise to the top and from thereon, it can be fed into the senior side to take the place of the likes of Shakib, Mahmudullah and Mustafiz once they hang their boots.

Until then, the older Bengal Tigers will have fight their way in what promises to be an increasingly competitive T20 World Cup.

shakib al hasan
Shakib Al Hasan has played in every ICC T20 World Cup since its inaugural edition in 2007 [File: Adnan Abidi/Reuters]

Three players to watch

Shakib Al Hasan

Arguably Bangladesh’s biggest player over the past 25 years, Shakib stands out even at the twilight of his career. Aged 37 going into the T20 World Cup, the all-rounder is crucial his side’s chances of success in what could be his last World Cup. Having made his international debut in 2006, Shakib has taken 699 wickets and scored 13,485 runs in all formats for his country. In T20 internationals he averages 20 with the ball and has a strike rate of 125 with the bat.

Towhid Hridoy

Despite only making his international debut in 2023, Hridoy has already established himself as a key batter. An average of of nearly 37 with in one-day internationals, with seven half-centuries in 26 innings, is matched by his strike rate of 132 from his 18 T20I innings.

Mehidy Hasan Miraz

A star of Bangladesh’s Under-19 team in 2016, Mehidy quickly established himself in the senior side with his left-arm spin and batting abilities. He goes into the tournament with decent domestic form and will look to put his experience in the Caribbean T20 league to good use.

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(Al Jazeera)
Source: Al Jazeera