Bangladesh became just the seventh team to be crowned ICC Under 19 Men’s Cricket World Cup champions by beating India to clinch the 2020 tournament in South Africa.
Skippered brilliantly by Akbar Ali, the first-time finalists clinched their maiden title against the odds as they defeated the four-time winners by three wickets under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method to make history.
Chasing 178 to win, the young Tigers were struggling at 102-6 before Akbar’s knock of 43 not out dragged them over the line in a rain-shortened finale in Potchefstroom.
The triumph was a significant achievement for Bangladesh cricket as they won a global ICC tournament for the very first time at any level, coming 22 years after they made their debut in the prestigious ICC U19 Men’s CWC – a moment that was not lost on Akbar.
“It’s a dream come true,” said the wicketkeeper-batter. “We’ve had a very good experience, and this is just the beginning for us. Hopefully, this will be the starting stone for us.”
Bangladesh’s previous best performance at the ICC U19 Men’s CWC was on home soil in 2016, finishing in third place after losing their semi-final to eventual champions West Indies. But the 2020 edition was a different story after they progressed to the Super League knockout stages by topping their group, beating Zimbabwe and Scotland along the way.
Shoriful Islam and 2022 skipper Rakibul Hasan then starred with the ball for Bangladesh as they knocked off South Africa and New Zealand to reach the showpiece final. And despite coming up against an inspired Yashasvi Jaiswal, who made 88 to take the Player of the Tournament award, nothing could stop Bangladesh from sealing the title.
The ICC U19 Men’s CWC is known for being a major stepping stone in the development of all the participating teams, providing a platform for cricket’s future stars to shine on the world stage.
That certainly proved to be the case for Bangladesh, who unearthed several supreme talents along the way who have since gone on to receive full international honours.
Shoriful, in particular, became a left-arm pace sensation almost overnight thanks to his role in Bangladesh’s title success, taking nine wickets over the course of the tournament. His aggression and pace against South Africa, New Zealand and India proved pivotal, earning him a maiden call-up to the senior ODI side in January 2021 for the series against West Indies.
He has since played in all three formats for his country, taking 22 wickets in 17 T20I matches and seven wickets in four ODIs to cement himself in the team for years to come. And Akbar recognised the importance of capitalising on his team’s silverware success soon after the tournament’s conclusion, thanking the Bangladesh Cricket Board for their support.
“I believe age-group cricket is different compared to international cricket, the latter is much more difficult and challenging,” said the captain just a few days after lifting the trophy.
“The board is providing us facilities to move on to the next level and our first target will be to minimise the gap between age-level cricket and international cricket and prepare ourselves properly for the next level. After winning the World Cup we got two days rest in South Africa and our team management gave us some messages to prepare ourselves for the next level.
Bangladesh have continued to grow as a cricketing force on the international stage since 2020 and will now look to achieve the rare feat of defending their ICC U19 Men’s CWC crown. Three players – Rakibul, Tanzim Sakib and Prantik Nabil – remain from that title-winning team, forming the nucleus of a strong squad for the 2022 edition in West Indies.
Only Pakistan have managed to win the tournament back-to-back – in 2004 and 2006 – so a place in the ICC U19 Men’s CWC history books awaits Bangladesh if they can do the double.
Even if they are unable to go all the way once again, it’s clear to see from the progress they have made as a cricketing nation in the last two years the sizeable impact that 2020’s triumph has had.
FLASHBACK FROM ICC