Can Generation Next Lift Bangladesh?
The Bangladesh U19 team were a revelation at the recent World Cup. Can the injection of some of these players into the senior side lift the team to new heights?
Certainly something needs to happen. The Tigresses were handed a cricket lesson by New Zealand in January, not winning a single game. This after the high of qualifying for this World Cup and the captain’s declaration that the team never wanted to have to qualify that way again.
In stark contrast, the bright and entertaining cricket displayed by the U19 team, especially their stirring win over Australia suggested a confidence never before seen in a Bangladesh women’s team. This is generation next, with three of those players selected in the squad for this tournament. Can they bring that confidence into the senior team?
I’ve asked Bangladesh supporter Fariha Ahnaf for her thoughts on the team:
Joty has been captaining the team well. Shorna Akter played well at the women’s U19 World Cup last month, she was nominated for the Player of the Tournament. Disha captained Bangladesh in the U19 World Cup.
It would be interesting to see them play for the senior national team. Marufa has been playing well too, she is one of the most important members of Bangladesh squad for this tournament. Jahanara and Salma have a lot experience and hope their experiences would help Bangladesh’s bowling line up.
Bangladesh are in Pool A, along with Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa. They can get their tournament off to a good start with a victory against Sri Lanka which one could reasonably expect.
Next comes a big hurdle with Australia. Can the senior team mirror what their U19 counterparts did and defeat Australia? Seems unlikely but the youngsters have proven that Australia can be beaten and they must take something from that.
Next match is another tough one, against New Zealand, the team that handed them a drubbing just last month. Joty and her team must eliminate that from their minds because they must defeat New Zealand if they are to progress.
Last Pool match is against the home team. This will be a tough match for both because it is likely “do or die” for these two teams. They have defeated South Africa once previously so they know it can be done.
The exciting young fast bowler, Marufa Akter, has everyone talking and she will enjoy these conditions in South Africa. With Jahanara Alam at the other end, in career best form, Bangladesh has an excellent new ball pair. Of course, they may split the duties as the tactic of opening with off spinner Salma Khatun is a tried and true on for the team. Either way, new ball options are plentiful.
Managing the team from behind the stumps is skipper Nigar Sultana, although Bangladesh do often split the duties between the skipper and Shamima Sultana. Either option is good. The general fielding is competent but catching can sometimes be a problem for certain players and of course this can be costly. It’s an area the coach will be keen to focus on.
There are plenty of runs in this team but the big factor is lack of consistency. Fargana Hoque (“Pnky”) can hit the ball a mile and has a good strike rate, but will need to be there doing that for every match.
Shorna Akter was a breath of fresh air for the U19 team and gee, can she hit a cricket ball! She would not be out of place in the number three position, but is she ready?
Another youngster who has been around for a little while, and like Pinky, lacks consistency, is left-handed opener Murshida Khatun. She has the skills, and if she can get Bangladesh off to a good start then there is firepower to follow.
The challenge for the Tigresses is just how keen they are to promote the youngsters into the team. Already Marufa Akter has opened the bowling but we are yet to see her fellow U19 counterparts in the senior team.
Will the selectors be willing to bite the bullet early and catapult the next generation into the senior team?