A chance to make a statement
The recent success stories of the country's women's sides across different sports -- Bangladesh's triumph in the SAFF Women's Championship last year still very fresh in memory -- have not only resulted in a boost in viewership but also raised the bar of expectation from the girls representing the nation at any level in any sport.
Even the women's under-19 cricket team came through on those expectations as they marked the inaugural ICC Under-19 Women's T20 World Cup in South Africa last month with some impressive showings -- including taking down a strong Australia in the tournament opener before bowing out from the Super Six only due to net run-rate.
And in that regard, it is no surprise that expectations will be there from the Nigar Sultana Joty-led side, who are set to fly Bangladesh's flag in the next big global event -- the eighth edition of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup, set to commence on February 10 with the hosts South Africa taking on Sri Lanka in Cape Town. Nigar & Co have also been boosted by three in-form players -- Shorna Akter, Disha Biswas and Marufa Akter -- that featured in the Under-19 Women's T20 World Cup.
"The upcoming ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023 is a big and exciting opportunity for our team. We have played in four T20 World Cups but in the last three, we have not played so well and have not been able to record a win. This time, we are determined to make sure we break that record, get some momentum going, and show the world what we can do,"
However, realistically, expectations might need to be tempered, given Bangladesh's recent form and how they fared the four times they featured in the event. Having made their first appearance in the 2014 edition at home, Bangladesh have played in all three editions of the T20 World Cup since. But unfortunately, the Tigresses do not have much to show for the 17 T20 World Cup matches played as the only two wins managed by the women in red and green were nine years ago, against Sri Lanka and Ireland at home.
Moreover, recording the two lowest innings totals in the tournament -- 46 all out in just 14.4 overs against hosts West Indies in 2018 and 58 for nine against England in 2014 in Sylhet -- only dampens the Tigresses' history in the biennial event.
But, in words of the Tigresses' skipper Joty, the dismay of the past only makes the upcoming event even more a spectacular opportunity for her side to prove a point and make amends.
"The upcoming ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023 is a big and exciting opportunity for our team. We have played in four T20 World Cups but in the last three, we have not played so well and have not been able to record a win. This time, we are determined to make sure we break that record, get some momentum going, and show the world what we can do," Joty was quoted as saying in a column published by the International Cricket Council as part of the build-up to the mega event.
Following a dismal showing in the Asia Cup in October last year, Bangladesh also failed to win a single game in their tour of New Zealand in November-December. The Tigresses lost the three T20Is by convincing margins before losing the three-ODI series 1-0 with the final two games abandoned against the Kiwis.
However, with hopes to better acclimatise to the conditions, Joty's troops already arrived in South Africa last month and the side will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways in the two official warm-up games -- against Pakistan on February 6 in Cape Town and India on February 8 in Stellenbosch.
Having been placed in Group 1 with hosts South Africa, defending champions Australia -- who are also the most successful side in the tournament with five titles so far -- New Zealand, and the Asia Cup finalists Sri Lanka, the Tigresses definitely have their work cut out.
But according to Joty, who is set to appear in her fourth T20 World Cup, the team is ready for the challenge.
"Our main strength as a team is our unity. We are very well-balanced, we have a mixture of experienced players and talented young players, and our team are always ready to take on a challenge.
"As a team, we want to inspire the next generation of women's cricketers back home and the best way to do that is by winning matches," she said.
Bangladesh will begin their World Cup journey with the game against the Lankans on February 12 in Cape Town, and they will hope to defy history and odds and even out the column of good memories in the event.