Like every walks of life, the cricketing fraternity of Bangladesh is also looking forward to forgetting the year of 2020 which started with joy and ended up with a ray of hope.
In January-February 2020, Bangladesh national team toured Pakistan for a Test and three T20Is but failed to impress in the field. But around the same time, Bangladesh U-19 cricket team won the ICC U-19 World Cup in South Africa beating India in the final.
It was Bangladesh’s first triumph at the World Cup level in any games. The year had started this way, but in next two months, things changed dramatically as the novel coronavirus invaded the world and claimed about 2 million people around the world so far.
Joy in South Africa
Bangladesh never won a World Cup in any game before the U-19 cricket team create history in South Africa. Bangladesh performed well throughout the event and lift the title without losing any game.
They started beating Zimbabwe in the event opener by nine wickets and outclassed Scotland in the second game by seven wickets, but the third match, which was against Pakistan, ended with no result due to bad weather.
The junior Tigers, however, thrashed the hosts South Africa and New Zealand by 104 runs and six wickets respectively in the quarter-final and semi-final, and in the final, Bangladesh beat India by three wickets in DL method to lift their first title in the event.
Mahmudul Hasan Joy, Tanzid Hasan, Shahadat Hossain, Akbar Ali, Rakibul Hasan, Shoriful Islam did exceptionally well in this edition of U-19 World Cup.
Disappointment in Pakistan
It was Bangladesh’s first tour to Pakistan after more than a decade. So the expectation was high among the Bangladeshi spectators. But the Mahmudullah Riyad-led Bangladesh T20Is team and Mominul Haque led-Test team failed to impress in this series as they lost all the matches.
Bangladesh were due to travel to Pakistan to play a Test and one ODI in April, but the COVID-19 invasion halted those games indefinitely.
Familiar result with familiar foe Zimbabwe at the home
Zimbabwe came to Bangladesh in February-March 2020. They faced the hosts in two T20Is, three ODIs and one Test and lost all the games. The once-powerful opponent of Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, proved that they are not a strong opponent of the Tigers anymore.
In the last ODI of the series, Liton Das smashed 176 off 143 with 16 fours and eight sixes. This is the record of the highest individual total by a Bangladeshi in ODIs. Along the way, Liton surpassed his opening partner Tamim Iqbal who also hit 128 in that game.
In the same game, Bangladesh recorded their highest partnership in ODIs at any wicket, 292, by Tamim and Liton.
Sports halted indefinitely
In March, along with the other sporting events, cricket was also halted by the authorities to stop the contagious coronavirus. Due to the COVID-19, the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League was stopped after a few matches. Despite some talks at the Bangladesh Cricket Board, the league was never restarted.
After the lockdown of more than four months, some cricketers started individual training in July. And the national team started preparation ahead of their Sri Lanka tour. But due to the COVID-19 situation in the island nation, the series was later postponed. Sri Lanka had set a strict two-week-long quarantine for Bangladesh, but BCB asked to reduce it. Sri Lanka denied doing that, and thus the series was postponed.
Bangladesh missed many matches
Apart from the Sri Lanka series, Bangladesh missed at least 11 international games due to COVID-19. Bangladesh missed an ODI and one Test in Pakistan, three ODIs and four T20Is in Ireland and two Tests at the home against Australia.
It’s still unclear what will happen to these games, though, BCB has been saying that they will try to convince the other boards to play the halted games in future. However, there is no development in this regard now.
Cricket makes a return
In October, BCB hosted President's Cup 50-over competition involving three themes consist of the national team, HP and U-19 cricketers. After organising this event successfully, BCB hosted a T20 event on November-December --Bangabandhu T20 Cup 2020.
This event was a fresh platform for the local players to prove their mettle to do well in the larger stage of the game. Many youngsters played some wonderful cricket in this event which has prompted BCB president Nazmul Hasan to say that this league might have a permanent place in the domestic cricket calendar.
BCB maintained a strict bio-secure bubble in these events. All the participating players had to undergo several COVID-19 tests during these leagues. The BCB had also arranged COVID-19 testing facilities for the journalist who covered these competitions.
During this event, a two-member delegation of West Indies paid a visit to Bangladesh to see the arrangement for their tour to Bangladesh in January-February 2020. They expressed happiness after observing the health protocol that Bangladesh would provide them during the tour.
A ray of hope
The West Indies have confirmed the Bangladesh tour in January-February 2020. It’ll be marked as Bangladesh’s first international cricket event after the COVID-19 hiatus.
The Cricket West Indies have already announced the team for Bangladesh tour, which have missed some key players who opted to stay out of this series due to the current COVID-19 situation around the world.
But if BCB could make this series a flawless and provide the best health protocol to the touring side, the more teams might be interested to tour Bangladesh during the pandemic.