Bangladesh have sent a message to the world: Athar Ali Khan


Bangladesh have sent a message to the world: Athar Ali Khan
Athar Ali Khan is a Bangladesh cricketer-cum-commentator.

Dubai - What they have done in this tournament, especially without Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, is incredible

By Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Fri 28 Sep 2018, 10:06 PM

Last updated: Sat 29 Sep 2018, 12:09 AM

The cricketing world will be forced to take the Bangladesh team much more seriously if they replicate their Asia Cup run in major tournaments in the future, said Athar Ali Khan - the famous Bangladeshi cricketer-turned-commentator.

"What Bangladesh have done in this tournament, especially without any significant contribution from the two top players -- Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan due to injuries - is incredible. This is a very big statement from our boys," Khan told Khaleej Times during an interview at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.

"You know when they talk about Bangladesh cricket, it's always about Tamim and Shakib. So for Bangladesh to have come this far without any of them is an incredible achievement. It just shows the kind of batting depth we have," he added.

"I mean we have players like (Mushfiqur) Rahim. He has been the Mr Dependable for Bangladesh cricket for so many years.

"But to get someone around him to bat, someone like Mohammad Mithun who got back-to-back 50s, then Imrul Kays came back as a replacement to score that important 72 against Afghanistan with a big partnership for the sixth wicket with Mahmadullah, it shows the kind of character the team has.

"And if they continue to perform like this in big tournaments, then the top teams will have to take them very seriously because this team has proven that on their day they can beat any team in the world. That's the message the team has sent."

Khan credits skipper Mashrafe Mortaza for Bangladesh's dream run in the Asia Cup.

"In my opinion, Mashrafe is the best captain Bangladesh has ever produced. He was given the captaincy back again in the ODIs in 2014 and since then Bangladesh have not really looked back in terms of performance," he said.

"Mortaza is an inspirational captain. He does the right things at the right time. Everybody looks up to him. He has been a great ambassador."

Khan says Bangladesh would not have enjoyed so much success, especially in home conditions, if the domestic structure was poor.

"In fact, we have a very strong domestic structure. We have both four-day and three-day formats in first class cricket, we also have the one-day and T20 leagues," he said.

"Also the Bangladesh Cricket Board arranges domestic age group competitions. There is an academy, there is a high-performance team which looks after the young players. The idea is to prepare them very well in terms of performance, in terms of physical fitness so the players get a chance to play for the A team or the under the 19 team and, of course, the national team.

"That's why we have now players like Mahidi Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Mithun. Also the bench strength is pretty decent. If someone gets injured, there are other players waiting to grab the spots."

The Tigers have become a formidable Test team at home, but they have yet to make rival teams sweat for their wins on foreign soil.

"Yes it's a challenge. First and foremost you have to make sure that you start drawing Test matches abroad. So once you start drawing Test matches then you start to send the message across that we are a really competitive team," he said.

"To draw a Test match, your batsmen have to take the responsibility. You need to ensure that you don't get out twice.

"When you go out and play overseas in completely alien conditions, the right way to go about it will be to create the same environment and create the same conditions at home.

"So we need at least couple of venues in domestic cricket that offer seam movement. They need to have at least two pitches where batsmen will be tested against the swing bowlers. It will improve batsmen's technique and also give the bowlers the chance to really go on top of their game."

Despite the lack of lively wickets at home, Bangladesh do have some quality pace bowlers.

"It's because they are highly talented bowlers," Khan said.

"The players who have come up through the system know exactly what to do in these conditions. We have got lot of good pace bowlers. We have got Rubel Hossain, Mortaza and Mustafizur Rahman who have been outstanding.

"These bowlers have the skills. But they can do even better if the board gives at least two lively wickets back home for domestic matches."

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