With a comprehensive victory in the second ODI of the ongoing three-match series against Afghanistan, Bangladesh moved up to the top of the current ODI Super League points table. The Tigers became the first team to reach 100 points in the Super League after only 14 matches. England and India are currently second and third in the list with 95 and 79 points respectively.
As part of the ODI Super League, teams will play eight ODI series - four at home and as many overseas - ahead of the 2023 ICC Cricket World Cup in India. India, of course, will automatically qualify as the hosts which means a team has to be in the top seven of the table to directly qualify for the mega event.
Bangladesh have no series in the Super League against India, Pakistan, Australia and the Netherlands. The ongoing Afghanistan series is the fifth Super League series featuring Bangladesh and they have three more left with two of them taking place outside Bangladesh.
Out of the five series, Bangladesh have won four including an away series against Zimbabwe. The only series loss came in New Zealand last year. After the Afghanistan series, the Tigers will head to South Africa and then to Ireland. The only home ODI series remaining is against England.
Bangladesh's journey to the top
It's the first time Bangladesh have attained the top position in the Super League and that's because of their impeccable record at home. Since 2015, Bangladesh have lost just nine out of their 40 home ODIs and their win percentage of 77.5% is the highest for any team at home during this period. They have lost a solitary home series in the last seven years as they made the most of the home advantage.
Bangladesh played their first ODI Super League series in January last year against a second-string West Indies side and as expected, the Tigers easily conquered the challenge. The West Indies batters hardly had any clue about the spin of Bangladeshi bowlers and succumbed to sub-200 totals in all three matches.
Bangladesh saw the flip side of the coin when they lost a series 3-0 against New Zealand. Bangladesh put up a good show with the bat in the second ODI but New Zealand proved to be too strong for them in their own backyard.
But they bounced back against Sri Lanka at home, taking the series 2-1 with Mushfiqur Rahim starring with the bat with a half-century and a century. In Zimbabwe, they were on a roll as well, clinching the series 3-0 in challenging conditions.
The Tigers returned to the ODI format after seven months to play a three-match series. After a horror start in the first match, Bangladesh overcame the challenge of the famous spin trio thanks to a monumental partnership between Afif Hossain and Mehidy Hasan Miraz. In the second match, the hosts rode on another massive partnership between Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim to seal the series. The unit is looking stronger than ever under the captaincy of Tamim Iqbal.
What lies ahead
Bangladesh have 10 more matches left in the Super League - nine after the Afghanistan series ends. Six of them will be away from home - in South Africa and Ireland - and three at home. Given the current form and the strength of the opponents, the Tigers are expected to win at least half of the remaining 10 matches.
It will be difficult for Bangladesh in tough conditions in South Africa. Bangladesh have never won an ODI against South Africa in South Africa and it will be a major challenge for them. Against Ireland, although the conditions won't be easy, Bangladesh are expected to win every match. Ireland is the country where Bangladesh won their only multinational tournament and have a good record against Ireland.
The home series against England will be a fascinating one. Bangladesh may not have won an ODI series against them but they surely gave England a run for their money when they met last in a bilateral series.
If Bangladesh can finish on a high before the World Cup in 2023 in India, it will be a major boost for them. The conditions in India will favour Bangladesh and the young players will be more experienced then. Bangladesh are right now a very formidable ODI side in these conditions with very few weak links and they will be one of the contenders for at least a semifinal spot which is already evident from their performance in the Super League.