The highlights of 2018 in Bangladesh cricket

Tigers’ best year ever, Mashrafe a true leader, Mahmudullah’s six to remember and more!

Adnan Hadi

30 December, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Tigers’ best year ever, Mashrafe a true leader,
Mahmudullah’s six to remember and more!

2018 is just about at a close and the calendar is set to flip to 2019. During this year, we have seen plenty of successes in Bangladesh cricket. With the Bangladesh crazy cricket fans anxiously awaiting new stories for their favorite cricket team and superstars, it’s time to look back the biggest moments of Bangladesh cricket team over the last 12 months.

It’s hard to pick what the most important stories of Bangladesh cricket was in 2018 because there are so many to choose from.

With 2018 just few days away and the New Year fast approaching, daily sun has come up to pinpoint Tigers’ most memorable things from the past 12 months for a special end-of-year list.

Tigers’ best year ever

The year 2018 was fantastic for the Tigers. Possibly, Bangladesh Cricket Team passed their most memorable cricketing year yet since their first appearance in Cricket History— statistically, its best year ever. But their most of successes came in ODI format.

They won more than they lost. In all, they played 44 matches and won 21 of them. Previously Tigers enjoyed their most memorable year in 2006 where they claimed 19 wins.

A dream year for the Tigers’ on the field began with a bang with Tigers outplayed Zimbabwe in the tri-nation series opener in Bangladesh. Although the Tigers started the tri-nation series, involving Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, in a bright note with successive wins to book the final spot but failed to claim a rear tournament win.

And then they remained winless against a spirited Lankan side. They were handed a crushing 79-run defeat by Sri Lanka in the final, lost the two-match Test series by 1-0. Even they were humiliated in the two-match T20 series by 2-0.

A bruised Bangladesh were desperately looking to reverse their inconsistent performances in a three-way T20 battle in Nidahas Trophy campaign in Colombo in March. They found the touchback and somehow claimed the final spot but fell agonisingly short of another tournament title as they suffered a heart-stopping four-wicket defeat to India in the last-over thriller. 

Underrated batsman Dinesh Karthik single handedly shattered Tigers dream with a match-winning 29-run blitz off 8 balls including the epic final-ball six in the most important match of the tournament.

However, Tigers’ miserable run in T20 cricket continued as they were handed a 3-0 crushing against fast-rising Afghanistan in early June which was held at Dehradun, India.

Bangladesh with the tag “no longer the whipping boys of world cricket,” arrived on West Indies backyard in late June after four years and they had a torrid time in the two-match Test series. They lost all two Test matches in humiliating fashion. Their morale dented after producing their lowest Test score. So the tourists Bangladesh team were desperate enough to put some salvaging effort in ODI and T20 series.

However, under Mashrafe’s motivation, Bangladesh responded their Test humiliation by claiming ODI and T20 series.

With the sweet memories of their inspiring Asia Cup performance in 2014 and 2012, Bangladesh team under Mashrafe’s leadership started Asia Cup campaign in UAE in mid-September. Despite losing against Afghanistan and India in the group and super stage matches, Bangladesh comfortably booked Asia Cup final spot for the third time by beating Afghanistan and Pakistan in super stage. 

However Tigers yet again failed to hold their nerve in the final and suffered defeat against India in the nerve-wrecking final.

Bangladesh continued their stellar performance at home in ODI by winning three-match series against Zimbabwe. They lost their first Test against battered Zimbabweans but managed to share the Test series by crushing Zimbabwe in the final Test.

Tigers ended the year on a high when they handed West Indies Test and ODI humiliation which was held in November-December in Bangladesh.

They scripted their biggest-ever victory in Test cricket with more than two days to spare in the second Test. Even In front of home crowd, Shakib’s men took their sweet revenge against the Windies by handing them a 2-0 whitewash. In all, it was another banner year for the Tigers. Like 2016 with many great moments over the past 12 months.

Mahmudullah’s six to remember

Bangladesh’s unsung hero Mahmudullah Riyad slammed a match-sealing six against Sri Lanka in the must-win game of Nidahas Trophy which will be long remembered by the cricket lovers.

Sri Lankan left arm medium pacer Isuru Udana bowled outside off stamp in a regular basis in death overs but the penultimate delivery was “leg-side-ish” which helped Mahmudullah to launch over fine leg for a six which sealed one of the finest and emotional victories for Bangladesh in T20 cricket.

Bangladesh had won by two wickets in an impactful match and how fitting it was for Mahmudullah to finish the job.

This is “Mr. cool” Mahmudullah who always chose the biggest stage in the cricketing world to produce his best performances. He has three hundreds in ICC events but the more important thing is his most brilliant knocks knocked the oppositions out from the tournaments.

Tigers’ last over heartbreaks continues

A final over heartbreak and Bangladesh had a very intriguing relationship in the last couple of years and such is the frequency of the tragic ends when Mushfiqur Rahim or Mahmudullah is in the crease in the final overs.

Bangladesh team repeated the same story throughout the year which saw Bangladesh failed to hold their nerve in the final overs. The year of Bangladesh could be more memorable if they kept their cool on those final overs. 

Their final over agony of the year started in Nidahas Trophy final when underrated Dinesh Karthik had a late onslaught and salad a famous win for India with a final-ball six. 

Similarly at Dehradun in the final T20 match against Afghanistan, the Series had already been out of their grasp, Bangladesh were desperate to salvage some pride by avoiding a whitewash but they added more pain in their embarrassing Dehradun tour when Bangladesh failed to manage 9 runs in the final over.

This time Afghan spin wizard Rashid Khan came to his side’s rescue and produced a brilliant final over to help Afghanistan survive mighty scare by one run.

The final heartbreak of the year came in the Providence Stadium in Guyana when Bangladesh suffered a three-run defeat to West Indies in the second ODI.

End of Tigers’ overseas hoodoo

Finally, Mashrafe  Mortaza’s men did it and St Kitts’ Warner Park Stadium witnessed something momentous when visitors Bangladesh completed a memorable 2-1 ODI series win over West Indies — their only third series win away from home soil.

Bangladesh, who last secured an away series win nine years ago, finally snapped the overseas hoodoo against Holder’s side.

Bangladesh last clinched an away series in 2009 against Zimbabwe. They had only ever beaten Zimbabwe and an under-strength West Indies team in an away series before the West Indies series.

Under Mashrafe’s motivational work, Bangladesh restored some battered pride when they brought highflying West Indies down to earth with a morale-boosting 48-run win to reclaim their winning thread.

Even after Bangladesh failing to hold their nerve in the second ODI with a final-over defeat, Mashrafe’s men did not lose their confidence as they sought a historic series-clinching win in the final ODI.

Tigers’ rare achievement was largely thanked to Tamim Iqbal, who single-handedly stole the show with two centuries and a half century to be named the player of the tournament as expected.

A special century of Tigers’ famous five

Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah, the famous five Tigers of Bangladesh cricket, touched a rare and unique milestone on December 11 of 2018 in the second ODI match against West Indies as the match was the 100th international match to feature the quintet of the famous five.

Shakib, Mashrafe, Mahmudullah, Mushfiq and Tamim are the best five cricketers Bangladesh has ever produced and they are reaching new heights every season and the famous five are holding most of Bangladesh’s records.

Bangladesh had just started winning regularly in international cricket when they came together and Since Mahmudullah’s debut in July 2007, the group has regularly played together.

Mashrafe, the most senior among the five, has overcome career-threatening injuries to remain the team’s leading fast bowler. Since 2015, Bangladesh cricket team thoroughly enjoyed ODI success under Mashrafe’s stellar leadership. In fact, the Tigers’ most of the successes since 2015 were largely thanked by the famous five.

Among the great achievements with the famous five’s availability of being together are Bangladesh’s first ever appearance in World Cup quarter final, beating Pakistan, India, South Africa at home ground and an incredible performance in ICC Champions Trophy last year.

Mushfiq and Tamim: The brave hearts

To go from 3 runs for 2 wickets to 261 runs requires something special. On Asia Cup opener against Sri Lanka, that ‘something special’ was Mushfiqur Rahim, who stole the show with a brilliant 144 runs to help bury Sri Lanka under an avalanche of runs as Lankans succumbed under the pressure and saw a crushing  137 runs defeat against Bangladesh in Dubai.

Obviously Mushfiq’s heroics would not have been possible without the support of Mohammad Mithun (63) and injured Tamim Iqbal’s unforgettable courageous act for the nation.

The dashing opener fractured his left wrist earlier in the game, when struck by a delivery from Suranga Lakmal and had to retire hurt. But when Mustafizur Rahman was run out in the 47th over, Bangladesh were effectively restricted to 229 runs.

To the amazement of most onlookers, Iqbal walked out and proceeded to bat with just one hand. He fended off the first ball he faced and Rahim then farmed strike as much as possible, taking Thisara Perera to the cleaners and 32 runs were added for the last wicket. It helped Bangladesh post 261 runs and their bowlers then bundled out Sri Lanka in just 124 for a 137-run win.

Millions of Bangladeshi fans all over the world screamed together, they cried and they heaved euphoric sighs of relief, together when braveheart Tamim Iqbal returned to bat with one hand after wrist fracture. It was pure love for a country.

Mashrafe a true icon, a true leader

The rest of the saga belonged to Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza. His leadership created history in Bangladesh by making appearance in the World Cup knockout stage for the first time. His leadership made team Bangladesh unbeaten at home and booked the eighth spot for ICC Champions Trophy 2017, in the process becoming the most successful captain not only for Bangladesh team but also one of the best captains of the world.

In respect of popularity, it will not be so much controversial to figure out Mashrafe Mortaza as the most successful leader of the country at present. When the country is over-flooded with problems, one thing does not fail to keep the whole nation elated and hopeful and that is cricket.

With a stunning winning record as a captain since November 2014, he surely changed the face of Bangladesh cricket and transformed the team into a fearless unit that is now oozing with confidence. Mashrafe Mortaza, the “Narail Express”, brought the team back into winning habits. In his tenure, Bangladesh carried a fine form at their own backyard.

He loses many battles, he goes through excruciating pain, he tumbles, he faces humiliation; yet he keeps on with his voyage and ultimately wins the war. But most importantly, he creates the saga that is retold innumerable times to inspire the forthcoming generations. His legacy becomes a source of eternal inspiration.

The Narail Express went for surgery many times which was a life-threat for the captain but he tackled everything in matured way and always tried hard to bring something for his nation.

Turning to politics is nothing new for cricketers in South Asia, where the sport of cricket is massively popular.

He may be Bangladesh’s biggest cricket star, but Mashrafe Mortaza has become the latest athlete to join the field of politics.

Contesting a seat in the national parliament for the ruling Awami League party on the December 30 elections, Mashrafe vows to do more for sports and charity.

But Bangladesh’s ODI captain Mashrafe Mortaza will possibly say good bye from cricket after ICC World Cup 2019 which is a major concern for Bangladesh ODI side.