If you happen to pay a closer look at it, you’ll realise that the past five to seven years have been a period of immense transformation for some of Cricket’s most interesting sides. And it could be felt that the rise of some, rather astonishingly, has been at parallel with surprising downturns endured by the rest.
We learnt a great example of this only hours back.
So how is that?
In a week’s time, all the progress that South Africa had made in last twelve months was overshadowed by a humiliating defeat against Bangladesh, the first ever series victory by the visitors on South African soil.
The 2015 World Cup was a watershed moment in international cricket; new beginnings were scripted by some while the others’ progress got derailed. India and New Zealand became a serious force in the Test arena, while England and Australia saw their maiden titles in the ODI and T20 formats respectively. That wasn’t all. Cricket returned to Pakistan, Ireland and Afghanistan became Test nations. However, the point of concern was some hit such a low ebb in their cricketing journey that questions were raised of their quality and ability. At the same time, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe have struggled a lot in the past seven years. But if there’s a country whose cricketing fortunes seemed to indicate a mixed bag, then it was Bangladesh.
The thing to note is that Bangladesh saw the best phase of their short history between 2015-19. It’s the time period where they won over major countries at home.
Though make no mistake for it’s not that Bangladesh’s wins have been rampant and too many to note; perhaps the die-hard fan would not get over losing to Pakistan at home, wherein the hosts lost inside two days in a rain-affected match.
But the story of Bangladesh cricket in 2022 is the tale of an uprising. While their latest, heartening victory over the Proteas in the ODIs is a feather in the cap so many rising sides such as Afghanistan and Scotland, for instance, would like to emulate, it could be said, the impressive turnaround started this year in when they stunned the world by winning a Test in New Zealand.
Teams like the West Indies, as an example, would fail to register when it last beat the Kiwis in the Kiwiland.
Bangladesh’s change in fortunes is a result of a close-knit effort of a unit that makes old cliches seem reinvigored: never say die.
On the other hand, South Africa since 2015 world cup is no more the team it once was. They lost the proud record of being unbeaten in foreign conditions (2006-2015), then lost heavily in India, England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan albeit exceptionally winning in Australia and New Zealand (2016-17) but the concern was losing at home on regular basis. They lost against England in 2015-16 and 2019-20 by big margins, the shocker was though losing against Sri Lanka by 2-0 three years ago, for the first time they lost a Test series against an Asian side at home. Not only this South Africa lost the ODI Series against India at home for first time in 2017-18 by 5-1 margin. Last year they lost against Pakistan by 2-1. The administrative and quota-related problems have only compounded the anomalies in their journey.
Despite all this, when Bangladesh arrived in South Africa- no one would have though that they would script history.
There’s reason to this.
South Africa had enjoyed fine success in the past twelve months and Bangladesh didn’t inspire much confidence. But by the end of third one day, South Africa were on its knees and Bangladesh were flying high. This present side did what no other Bangladeshi team achieved previously in the Kagiso Rabada and Rassie van der Dussen land.
The visitors first punched the home side surprising them by winnin the first ODI and then knocked them out in the final round by winning their first-ever series on South African soil.
The Bangladeshi bowling line up continued to impres, especially Taskin Ahmed whose career seem to have rejuvenated in past twenty four months and he seems to be a different bowler altogether. His five-wicket haul in the final match was a treat to watch for the subcontinental side’s fans who witnessed someone from their own country could bounce the Proteas.
A sight never previously witnessed, a sight that becae the talking point of the cricketing world for much of 23 and 24 of March. Shoriful Islam, on the other hand, continued to impress and seamlessly adjusted in the senior cricket from the U19 stage. The spin king Shakib-al-Hasan and Mehidy Hasan have constantly led from the front.
The batters though ensured that Bangladesh didn’t miss on the golden opportunity. Captain Tamim Iqbal and Litton Das emerged instrumental in the win along with Shakib-al-Hasan.
You could see that in their body language; they weren’t here to simply compete. They were playing to win.
However, one youngster who’s clearly impressed everyone with his temperament is Afif Hossain, the 22-year-old has played two crucial innings in past one month. Facing Afghanistan, he insured that Bangladesh didn’t suffer a humiliation of losing series at home and what we saw against South Africa, was him bailing out the side from a precarious position in the second match.
Bangladesh have won Test series and ODIs in West Indies and Zimbabwe, but this series win will go down as their biggest achievement in their 36 year One day International history and for South Africa it will be the biggest humiliation in their thirty-one year history of playing ODIs.
All one can say is that take the surprising and ever-ready-to-stun-its-opponent Bangladesh easy at your own risk.