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In 2020, cricket took a backseat to COVID-19

The year of 2020 supposed to be a busy year for cricket in Bangladesh, but it has ended as a barren one due to the novel coronavirus which was detected first in the country in March this year.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) had decided to host a two-match T20 series between Asia XI and the Rest of the World XI to commemorate the birth centenary of the country’s founding president Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. But the plan was sidelined indefinitely due to the deadly Covid-19 outbreak throughout the world.

The disappointing year for Bangladesh for the game of cricket started with a three-match T20 series in Pakistan. It was Bangladesh’s first tour to Pakistan in 12 years. After much talk, the series was split into three different phases. In the first phase, both countries locked horns in a three-match T20 series which was won by Pakistan 2-0 with the third and final match was abandoned due to rain.

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After the T20 series in January, the Bangladesh team toured Pakistan in February to the first match of the two-match Test series. The Tigers lost the Test as well. It was Bangladesh’s third match in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship. Bangladesh was due to tour Pakistan in April to play the remaining Test and an ODI, but the Covid-19 forced to halt that part of the series.

Right after the second phase of Pakistan tour, Bangladesh hosted Zimbabwe for a Test, three ODIs and two T20Is. Bangladesh won the Test riding on the third double-ton by Mushfiqur Rahim in the format. The Tigers won the other matches of this series as well.

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 an ODI. Along the way of making this record, Liton surpassed his opening partner Tamim Iqbal who also hit 128 in that game.

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In the same game, Bangladesh recorded their highest partnership in ODIs at any wicket— 292 by Tamim and Liton.

After the Zimbabwe series at the home, Bangladeshi cricketers head to the most prestigious domestic event- Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League- the only 50-over competition of the country. But it was postponed indefinitely after the first six games due to the Covid-19 situation in the country.

Since that, all sorts of cricketing activities were on hold till September when some cricketers started individual training programmes after months-long lockdown. The Tigers were supposed to tour Sri Lanka for a full series, but the Covid-19 situation came to the fore again, and the series was postponed indefinitely.

Due the same, at least 14 international matches of Bangladesh have been postponed including a Test series against Australia, an ODI and T20I series against Ireland.

Right after the postponement of the Sri Lanka series, Nazmul Hassan, the BCB president had announced that the board will focus on bringing back domestic cricket to the field. And as he said, BCB hosted a 50-over competition, the BCB President Cup, in November comprising three teams consisting of the top cricketers of the country.

In this event, the board maintained a strict bio-secure bubble for the cricketers, coaches, staff and others who are involved in organizing the event.

With the experience of hosting the President Cup, BCB introduced a brand new T20 league0- the Bangabandhu T20 Cup 2020- with five teams taking place.

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This event probably was the only positive thing for Bangladesh cricket to take forward from this year. Unlike the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), all the cricketers of Bangabandhu T20 Cup were Bangladeshi. The local talents got a golden chance to prove their mettle in the format.

Young cricketers like Najmul Hossain Shanto, Parvez Hossain Emon, Anisul Islam Emon, Afif Hossain, Mahedi Hasan displayed some tremendous performance in the event. And along with them, Mustafizur Rahman, Liton Das have also proved their class. While Mustafizur was the best cricketer of the event, Lition was awarded the trophy of the best batsman.

Hosting two events in two months, opened the door for Bangladesh to bring international cricket back at home as the West Indies have confirmed their visit to Bangladesh in January- February 2021.

During the Bangabandhu T20 Cup, a two-member delegation of West Indies toured Bangladesh to oversee the health protocol that the BCB is providing to ensure safety for the cricketers and other staff.

After a short visit in Dhaka and Chattogram, they expressed their happiness, and within the next few days, West Indies confirmed the tour.

Despite a barren year in 2020, Bangladesh are looking forward to playing more cricket in 2021. After the West Indies series at home, Bangladesh are scheduled to tour New Zealand. In 2021, Bangladesh will also take part in the ICC T20 World Cup which is scheduled to take place in India during the later part of the year.

Source: United News of Bangladesh