Dharamsala, India (BBN)-Last time Bangladesh played cricket on Indian soil, Mohammad Azharuddin was home captain.
In a tri-series also involving Kenya, they didn’t make the final, reports The New Indian Express.
It was 1998, and a lot has changed since.
Bangladesh attained Test status two years later, and gave India the mother of all hidings in the 2007 World Cup.
They made it to WC quarterfinals last year, and a months later, won a maiden ODI series against MS Dhoni’s team.
Sunday’s Asia Cup final drubbing notwithstanding, Bangladesh have matured from boys to men since the time they last played.
Strangely, despite playing Tests in all the other nations, Pakistan included, they never played in India after 1998.
That’s because the BCCI believes earnings from a home series against Bangladesh won’t be much.
Instead, if the Indian team plays there, the hosts will have packed stands, which will boost the coffers of the Bangladesh Cricket Board.
“It’s true that we didn’t get much chance to play in India. There can’t be excuses here. Expect for one or two guys, all are new to conditions in India. But we are hopeful of doing our best,” said Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza.
He was not willing to go beyond that and even when travelling Bangladeshi scribes needled him, he brushed it aside, saying they have to live with it.
Mortaza & Co are a mercurial lot.
In known conditions, they can defeat any side on a given day.
After showing glimpses of talent, they stagnated a year before the 2015 World Cup.
Coaches were chopped and senior players had disciplinary issues.
Then came the move to appoint Chandika Hathurusingha, one of the soundest cricket minds in Sri Lanka.
He resigned from his national setup to take up the coach’s job in Bangladesh.
The team started moving in the right direction.
They have defeated England, South Africa, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka in the shortest format in recent months.
If one looks at how the island nation is struggling to replace Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the Tigers are definitely on the up.
“In the last one and-a-half years, Hathurusingha has given us a lot of freedom to play at our best and helped us in general. I think this has been a right combo because he’s a fantastic man and we’re getting better as a team,” Mortaza explained.
Given recent form, they shouldn’t have been playing the WT20 qualifiers.
But thanks to the ICC ranking system, based on records dating back to two years, they didn’t find themselves in the top eight.
So starting Wednesday, they play Associate teams — The Netherlands, Ireland and Oman — to join the rest.
If they fail, their stay in India might not go beyond March 13.
For a Test side, that can be humiliating.
“We knew we had to play qualifiers. We have built a great team. Now it’s about proving that we are good enough to fight it out in World T20. I’m hopeful in a few years, we will be a better side,” Mortaza said.
They reached Dharamsala on a charted flight on Monday evening and after their only training session ahead of the opener against Netherlands, the mood was upbeat.
“Dharamsala has different conditions, and we are feeling the difference,” Mortaza added.