‘It didn’t come easy. We had to go through a lot of lost matches, hard work and criticism as well’ – Tamim Iqbal © ICC
For a long time, it was only one-off wins that brought the attention of the cricket world upon Bangladesh. But still, respect was hard to come by. Then came the 2015 World Cup, series wins against India, South Africa and Pakistan, and now, ahead of their first Champions Trophy in 10 years, Bangladesh are finally getting what they have wanted for so long.
Tamim Iqbal, who has been closely involved in the team’s rise as an ODI force, said they have worked to get to a level where oppositions are wary of them. Bangladesh recently rose to No. 6 in the ICC rankings – their highest mark. The journey began seven years ago, from No. 9, and it isn’t done yet.
“That’s how it goes, you know,” Tamim said. “When your team is winning games, when your team is playing better cricket people will notice you, people will respect you. And we deserve the respect we are getting.
“As a team, we have come up a long way. That time we were ranked 10th, now we are ranked sixth. As I told you before, it didn’t come easy. We had to go through a lot of lost matches, hard work and criticism as well. But the last two years has been brilliant for Bangladesh cricket. [We are] probably one of the most successful teams in the world if you see in the last two years.”
Bangladesh have a win-loss ratio of 1.46 from 34 matches since the start of 2015 – the best among the Asian teams. They have also developed the backbone to fight out of tough situations, as evidenced by a comeback win against Sri Lanka in Tests, a rout of Afghanistan to secure their 100th victory in ODIs and a spirited defence of 238 against England in Dhaka.
It is against England that Bangladesh begin their Champions Trophy campaign, on Thursday, and while Tamim understood the heft of the challenge ahead of them, he wanted his team to draw from the good memories of their recent past.
“We just need to carry on those things and keep on improving. We know one thing that we need to improve a hell of a lot is to be consistent in international cricket and beat good teams like India, England or Pakistan. We have to keep improving and that’s what we are looking for.
“We’ve done well against [England], but they are playing in home conditions and they have some serious individual players as well. If we want to repeat the result again, we have to be on top of our game in all departments because England is a very, very strong team.”
Beating higher ranked teams in the Champions Trophy will also boost Bangladesh’s hopes of direct qualification into the 2019 World Cup. Only the top eight teams on the ODI rankings on September 30 earn that right, while the rest will have to go through a qualifying tournament in April 2018.
“I think we are very close to qualifying,” Tamim said. “During the tri-series [in Ireland earlier this month], we won against New Zealand and we became the sixth-ranked team in the world. Those things are nice to have but when you are playing in such a big tournament you don’t want to be thinking of those kinds of things, rather than concentrate on winning games. We’ll try to our best in these three matches to do something special for the nation.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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