Two major championships for the Bangladesh Under-19 squad in nearly four years is a testament to the long-term plan established by the Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) game development committee.
After winning the young World Cup in 2020, the Under-19 team won their first Asia Cup title yesterday, smashing the hosts UAE by 195 runs in Dubai.
The game development committee, chaired by former Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud Sujon, has devised yet another extensive campaign with the current crop of Under-19 cricketers, focusing on game awareness through a large number of matches over the previous year and a half.
The current group, like the previous Under-19 World Cup-winning side, has played about 30 home and away matches in preparation for the Asia Cup and the next ICC Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in January next year.
“To be honest, I was irritated that we were unable to perform as a team prior to the Asia Cup.” But I must say that the boys managed to click at the right time, and with the World Cup coming up in January , this Asia Cup victory will undoubtedly boost the boys’ confidence. I believe the age-level selectors should be recognized as well because they have been scouting players from the ground up, which is not easy. “We made certain that the boys received adequate match preparation in order to develop game sense,” Mahmud told The Daily Star yesterday.
Bangladesh finished the tournament as unbeaten champions thanks to a thorough team effort from the young Tigers across all three departments. The semifinal victory over a powerful Indian team also demonstrated the cricketers’ excellent attitude, as they were able to keep their cool in high-pressure situations.
The Asia Cup’s standout player for the young Tigers was opener Ashiqur Rahman Shibly. The right-handed batter was named tournament player after hitting two tons, including a match-winning 129 in the final.
“Shibly is a hardworking cricketer with a cool head.” He did not appear out of nowhere in this event, since he struck a century against India right before the Asia Cup. His ability to confront the new ball makes him a solid opener, and he knows how to turn fifties into hundreds. “I believe he still has a long way to go, and I hope he can continue his good work in the coming days,” Mahmud added.
Pacers Maruf Mridha, Rohanat Doullah Borson, and leg-spinner Wasi Siddique, in addition to Shibly, impressed with their performances.
According to Mahmud, the board has prioritized developing leg spinners because the senior side has been looking for a quality option in that department for quite some time.
“Because the national team has been looking for a leg-spinner for a long time, we have taken extra precautions in developing leg-spinners from an early age.” Wasi is a promising young player who demonstrated his worth against Sri Lanka. But, in addition to Wasi, we have two other leg-spinners on the radar who have been preparing as well, and I am optimistic we will be able to overcome the scarcity of leg-spinners for the senior team in the coming days,” Mahmud added.
Mahmud was also hopeful that a number of players from this group will go on to represent the national team in the future, similar to how the World Cup-winning members of the Under-19 team are doing now.