Ahead of next month’s Nidahas Trophy tri-series featuring India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, former India batsman turned commentator Sanjay Manjrekar said that the tournament is another opportunity for Bangladesh to keep improving in the international circuit. Among the three Asian teams, Manjrekar called Bangaldesh the ‘second-strongest’ team after India.
“The Nidahas trophy gives Bangladesh another chance to show its wares to the biggest cricket viewership in the world – India. As the years have gone by, Bangladesh has slowly become a stronger force, this has a lot to do with the improving physical strength and fitness and of course self-confidence of their players,” Manjrekar, who played 37 Tests and 74 ODIs for India, wrote in his column for TOI.
“It still has a long way to go to make a mark overseas, but then India too was no different in this regard. I see Bangladesh as the second strongest team in this triangular and in Shakib and Mustafizur, they have two world-class players and game changers and they aren’t the only ones, even Tamim Iqbal when in full flow can be quite special.”
Bangladesh did well in the tri-series last month featuring Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, where they registered wins against both the teams, but lost to Sri Lanka in the final. According to Manjrekar, the passion for cricket in Bangladesh places the country a notch above the rest, and this factor will help Bangladesh go a long way in terms of performance in international cricket.
“The rise of Bangladesh is such great news. Cricket is an extremely popular sport there, more popular than it is in India actually. Like it was in India a few years back, Bangladesh is currently a one-sport country. Bangladeshi players are big stars in their home land. You see big billboards of them endorsing various products in Dhaka,” Manjrekar said.
“This phenomenon inspires and brings young talent into the game like no sophisticated academy can. Because it’s largely a poor country, millions of simple, young kids will take up cricket as a serious profession, just so that they can become famous and rich like their idols Shakib and Mustafizur.”
Manjrekar also said that he would love to see Mashrafe Mortaza return to lead the side. Mortaza announced his retirement from international T20s in February last year but continued to lead Bangladesh in one-day internationals. Bangladesh cricket board president Nazmul Hasan had said that Bangladesh will welcome former captain Mashrafe Mortaza back into the national Twenty20 side if he decides to come out of retirement.
“Let’s hope that Mashrafe Mortaza returns to lead Bangladesh in T20s, he is an impressive tactician. Good leadership always plays a key role in an emerging team when it’s looking for world acclaim,” said Manjrekar. (Courtesy Times of India)