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Bangladesh, who?

by Gaurav Sethi

What will make India take notice?

For any sporting rivalry to take root, hate between the fans must blossom. Ever since India and Pakistan started to lock horns on a cricket field, theirs was the rivalry to beat. There was enough hatred to feed generations, and whenever it threatened to dry up, fresh blood was spilled off the field to keep it going.  Even when India and Pakistan stopped playing each other in bilateral series, the occasional ICC event fed those fiery old flames. Close to seven years ago, even a warm-up match between the two fed those flames. Now it appears the rivalry, if you can call it that, is just between the fans, the matches are one-sided, there is no history between players. Shoaib Akhar laughs with his Indian buddies, season after IPL season in the studio. If anything, former Pakistani players seem more at home sparring with each other; surely you've seen Mohammad Yousuf and Ramiz Raja go at each other like Indians and Pakistanis?

For years, it was as if the Bangladeshi cricket team did not exist. With the West Indies and Sri Lanka falling out of favour, the BCCI's peripheral vision informed it of this upcoming neighbour. They could be a pesky little cricket team, who knows, maybe humour the coffers, adding to the India Victorious packages on Star Sports.  There was some vague history too, Bangladesh had done what Pakistan had failed to so far, beaten India in a World Cup match.  

Most of Bangladesh believed they should have beaten India in the 2015 World Cup quarterfinals. Then that dreaded no-ball call denied them of Rohit Sharma’s wicket. It didn’t even stop ICC CEO Mustafa Kamal, the ultimate Deshi fan boy, from shooting down the no-ball call. Before you knew it, fixing allegations were being hurled around. It didn’t go down too well with the then ICC President, N Srinivasan. One thing led to another, Kamal’s name was withdrawn from the World Cup Final’s presentation ceremony and Srinivasan handed the trophy to winning captain, Michael Clarke. Not to be outdone, Kamal snapped, “I was supposed to present the trophy to the winners after the Melbourne final. But I couldn’t do that. People with ugly mindset had no business running the ICC. I’m just sending my resignation to the ICC, for I was not allowed to work in line with the ICC constitution”.

Before long, Srinivasan was ICC history too. But before that, India played a three-match ODI series in Bangladesh. 19 year old, Mustafizur Rahman sliced through India’s batting with 13 wickets. India lost the series 1-2. Bangladeshi daily, Prothom Alo featured a fake-ad mocking the Indian team with their heads half shaved by Rahman’s cutters, also his prize delivery. The banner held by the Indian cricketers read, 'We have used it. You can use it too'.

Bangladesh’s preoccupation with cutting extended to a distasteful image of Taskin Ahmed holding aloft MS Dhoni’s severed head. Not only was the Dhoni haircut outdated, it was a vulgar photoshop by a delusional fan desperate for his 15 nano-seconds of fame.

Surely, Indian fans would answer some of these puke-bursts but I very much doubt they know the names or faces of any Bangladeshi cricketers. Not being taken seriously is bad enough, not being considered, far worse. So while Bangladesh grapples with cricket anonymity, it’ll take much more than a third-rate photoshop to be taken seriously.

What it could do though is let the media create a nagging, new sports rivalry between two neighbours. One that may have little context so far, but could become this little annoyance for India as they start to play each other more often.

But for a cricket rivalry to take shape, there has to be a fear factor on both sides: Just like India dreaded Wasim Akram and Saeed Anwar once upon a time, Bangladesh must find its own anti-heroes for this plot. Time will tell whether, Tamim Iqbal, fresh from parenthood, can sire some spite between these two cricket nations and its people. One that isn’t tinkered around with graphics but across those 22 yards.


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Pakistan Super League Official Website said...

Bangladesh cricket fans has to learn respect. Pakistan got defeated from India and we are world's top rivals in sports .. politics and wars too.. but Pakistanis didn't do any such thing to disrespect indian team. Win/loss is part of game and Bangladeshis need to understand that

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