Bangladesh has previously reached the top of age-level cricket once, as the young Tigers won the ICC Under-19 World Cup in South Africa in 2020.
Today, however, captain Mahfuzur Rahman Rabby and his team have the chance to do something that even the World Champions 2020 batch couldn’t do: win the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup.
The Bangladesh Under-19 team will compete in the final of the ACC U-19 Asia Cup today at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Bangladesh enters the final as the favorite, having won all four of their matches thus far, including a 61-run victory over the UAE in the tournament opener.
Despite the earlier success, Hannan Sarkar, the age-level selector, stated that the young Tigers are scared of the hosts.
“We still have a game left, and the boys are focused on delivering their best against the UAE,” Hannan told The Daily Star over the phone yesterday.
“Despite the fact that we started the tournament with a win over the UAE, they also played well to reach the final, defeating Sri Lanka and Pakistan.” So there is no room for complacency as we must play our best cricket to become winners,” he continued.
The final provides an opportunity to add another trophy to Bangladesh cricket’s trophy cabinet, a prospect that frequently overshadows the primary goal of age-level cricket in Bangladesh, which is to nurture cricketers for the future.
In comparison to the majority of elite teams across the world, the cricket authority in Bangladesh places a high value on winning titles at the age-level, a trend that originates from the country’s lack of success in ICC competitions at any level over the years.
After some lackluster performances early on, the current Under-19 cricket team has been clinical in the present Asia Cup.
“We have played 25 one-day matches during this period and although we managed to win 11 of those, I think those defeats also helped us to learn from our mistakes,” Hannan told reporters.
After defeating the UAE, Japan, and Sri Lanka in their group, the Under-19 team proceeded to the knockout stage.
The team management scheduled a virtual session with Under-19 World Cup winning skipper Akbar Ali prior to the semifinal to share his knowledge with the players.
Akbar’s encouragement appeared to work, as Bangladesh held their composure and defeated a tough Indian side by four wickets to reach the final.
Although star batter Ashiqur Rahman Shibli was out cheaply after hitting a century and a number of half-centuries in the group stage, left-arm bowler Maruf Mridha’s four-for and top-order batter Ariful Islam’s excellent performance enabled Bangladesh complete an easy win.
Whatever happens today, the challenge for the think tank will be to guarantee that these young cricketers are guided in the proper path and enhance their talents in order to compete at the senior level.
Hannan believes that the players are on the right track and that the team is in good form for the ICC Under-19 World Cup, which will be held in South Africa in January.
“There are few players who have shown great maturity and I think the boys are getting in the right shape ahead of the World Cup.”