Move over Pakistan vs India, there’s a new rivalry in town

Published: June 30, 2015
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Bangladesh is slowly emerging as a force to reckon with. PHOTO: AFP

With back-to-back victories on their home ground against Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and India, Bangladeshi cricket fans have witnessed some of the best days watching their team play. The fans would say that beating Zimbabwe was predictable, but victories against two big teams, Pakistan and India, are what matters most.

Asia will not always solely be about India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. A Champions Trophy spot is confirmed for Bangladesh and now the battle is between one of the big teams to fight it out against West Indies for the last spot.

Only a year and half ago, Bangladesh had failed to impress many during the Asia Cup on their home ground; female spectators cried when the chance of Shahid Afridi being caught out was lost and Shakib Al Hasan told Bangladeshi spectators not to have too many expectations from them.

Photo: AFP

This was the least bit encouraging, especially after Bangladesh had knocked India and Sri Lanka out in the previous Asia Cup and had lost the series by only two runs against Pakistan in the final. The final loss had resulted in some tears in the Bangladeshi camp and people were heard saying that while other teams win games, Bangladesh wins hearts only.

Photo: AFP

Shakib, who is always in the charts as a number one all-rounder, threatened to quit international T20 cricket in July 2014. Earlier that year, he had been banned from a few games because of a crude gesture towards a cameraman.

Eventually, things started turning around for the good. A new coach was hired, Shakib and Tamim Iqbal were rightfully reprimanded by the board to fix their game and attitude, rather than being thrown out of the team for their inconsistent performances. The extent to which the cricket board supported them is marvelous; they even gave them the huge responsibility of vice captaincy.

Captaincy was handed over to the experienced Mashrafe Mortaza and this gave Mushfiqur Rahim enough space to concentrate on his wicket-keeping and batting, and finally, their unfortunate winless streak ended in November 2014 in a match against Zimbabwe.

Photo: AFP

More than anything, this highlighted that a team needs their best cricketers playing for them, rather than throwing them out. This is what good management is about. Shakib, Iqbal and Rahim are not only experienced players now, but they are also at par with the modern-day requirements of the game.

Along came the World Cup 2015, where Bangladesh left us with countless amazing memories, from the controversy surrounding Rubel Hossain to knocking out England from the World Cup, which resulted in a makeover for the England cricket team.

However, what really spiced things up was the quarter-final between India and Bangladesh. Although India managed to win, there were all sorts of allegations made by the Bangladeshi cricket fans and politicians. Mustafa Kamal even resigned as the International Cricket Council (ICC) president. Some intense moments during the match added fuel to the entire story when there was what seemed to be a heated eye contact between Virat Kohli and Hossain.

Photo: AFP

However, playing a quarter-final in Australian conditions is not an easy feat and it was an achievement for the tigers.

After the World Cup, they comfortably beat Pakistan in the Bangladesh and Pakistan series. Pakistan was completely whitewashed in the ODI and the T20 series. Shakib was already flying high and now they could rightfully boast about their wins against a well-established team, such as Pakistan. He is even reported as saying that this is our best chance to beat Pakistan.

Photo: AFP

However, the recent series win against India is what’s most important. Not because this was a way of redemption after the quarter-final episode, but also because India was playing at full-strength. A new player, Mustafizur Rehman, who also happens to idolise Mohammad Amir as a bowler, troubled the mighty Indian batting order and Kohli failed yet again during the entire tour. This win against India is a major plus point for Bangladesh.

Photo: AFP

Some moments that highlighted the intensity and drama of the matches were MS Dhoni shoving Rahman during the first ODI, a send-off from Mashrafe to Kohli, showing him the way to the pavilion, the beating of an Indian fan, an argument between Shakib and the umpires, and the Bangladeshi crowd singing “Mauka Mauka” . Not surprisingly, that video went viral.

Bangladesh versus India might just become the next big Asian rivalry in cricket.

Beating Pakistan in 1999, Australia in 2005, knocking out India from the 2007 World Cup, knocking out West Indies from the 2007 World Cup T20 and then beating England in 2011 and 2015, in addition to some wins in a bilateral series, especially those against New Zealand, were some of the special moments during which Bangladesh ruined the chances for some big teams and established themselves as a strong team.

Critics will argue that Bangladesh is in dire need to win Test matches and they need to win a series away from home in order to be recognised as a real force.However, many will agree that they either break the hearts of their own fans or hearts of others’ fans every time they play.

Bangladesh is slowly emerging as a force to reckon with.

Hassan Shaigan

Hassan Shaigan

The author is a lawyer and a cricket fan. He tweets as @HassanShaigan

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Headstrong

    Good for Bdesh. It’s high time they upped their standards – they’ve been around for a while now. Among the many controversies mentioned, it might have been appropriate to include Bdesh’s entry into the quarter final via a controversial run out. But you don’t see England making a song and dance over that.Recommend

  • harkol

    If international sports (Cricket) is indeed war by other name, then Bangladesh-India rivalry can never reach the level of India-Pakistan or Aus-Eng rivalry. There is big historic animosity that works as undercurrent in such rivalry.Recommend

  • kartikey mishra

    really good ….we cant blame india or pakistan,N’land or Zmb …we should respect the rise of B”desh cricket…..Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/ ather khan

    the rise of bangladesh as a cricketing nation is surely very inspiring. it may be a lesson for us. it was previously a province of pakistan and its players were ignored in national level. it was widely accepted that players from bengal are not physically apt to represent pakistan. but now they are whitewashing pakistan. similarly players from interior sindh and balochsitan are ignored. pakistan can adapt the policy of united kingdom where scotland, ireland, walsh, england all units have their own football team. similarly four team comprising players from punjab, sindh, kp and balochistan can be made to give exposure to every provinces.Recommend

  • M.H.Kabir, Dhaka , Bangladesh.

    Rightly pointed out.We subcontinental people cannot control our emotion.This is our nature.You will always see different people from different part of the world will express their emotion in a different way.When we watch a match in Nzland,England,Australia , the crowds are totally different from subcontinent.But , in any case sports should be taken sportingly and it will be better for the game.Recommend

  • Rafique

    “they’ve been around for a while now” — I think you’ll find that most teams have been around a LOT longer, which explains the difference. All teams take a while to learn the ropes – bear in mind that Bangladesh doesn’t have the sort of infrastructure that other countries do, at least until recently.

    Having said that, it’s true that we should have beaten India much more consistently, given that they are not a top ODI team. If we cannot do that, then what chance do we have to take on the real champs [Australia, SA and NZ]?Recommend

  • John

    Frankly this Indian team is a hum created by the BCCI money power, media and Srini. remove 2 factors out and you see what happens. This team can be bashed by most of the teams on any given day on a neutral venue.Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Well said sir. Agree wholeheartedly Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Is that why India reached the SF in a ‘neutral venue’ in the recent WC? And won the Champions Trophy in England? Recommend

  • Headstrong

    And I think you’ll find that most teams have had far more success than Bdesh in the time Bdesh has been around – in both tests and ODIs. I don’t have to defend India’s record to you – two of the 3 teams you have mentioned haven’t even won the WC once. But one of the steps in achieving success would be lesser whining. That may be a good start – you already have a decent team. Recommend

  • skumar

    But India’s ODI records proves otherwise, India is still one of the top 3 ODI teams of the world. Live with itRecommend

  • Bangladeshi fan

    But one of the steps in achieving success would be lesser whining.

    You’ve got to be joking. Coming from an Indian, right?

    Maria Sharapova, anyone?Recommend

  • TexicanMexas

    Ahhhhhhhhhh yes. That great 2011 CWC India win. After having been knocked out of the 2007 CWC [by BANGLADESH, no less! LOL], the ensuing millions lost in revenue as 1.4 billion Indians switched off their TV sets, the sponsors knew what they were doing. They were never going to repeat such folly again. They would keep their most lucrative team in the CWC for as long as possible.

    Hey, how about setting the 2011 CWC in India?

    LOL.Recommend

  • Headstrong

    Ahhhhhhhhh yes. A good conspiracy theory never hurt anyone, right? The sponsors are truly far sighted. They saw back in 1983 that India would be a powerhouse in cricket – so they LET India win. 2007 T20 World Cup? Ah yes, they predicted the IPL – so LET India win. Champions Trophy 2013? LET India win. 1985 World Championship Trophy? Better let India win – they may get the riches in a few years. While at it, let Ravi Shastri win the Player of the Tournament – he may become the Team Director sometime in 2015, so we must have him onside.
    But the sponsors weren’t farsighted enough, were they? They never LET England win, even when they are one of the Big 3 now. And why allow Sri Lanka or Pakistan to win the CWC even once? How many millions are they pulling in? Guess the sponsors aren’t so smart after all!

    LOL. Recommend

  • Nikhil Panikkar

    Well, I would ask Sharapova if she knows where Bangladesh is

    Lesser whining – you mean like after the WC quarterfinal? Sure you Bangladeshis like chillum a lot! :D:D:D:D:DRecommend

  • TexicanMexas

    There’s no “conspiracy theory” about it. The 2011 CWC was designed so that the biggest teams were kept in for as long as possible, and that especially included India, given the 2007 debacle. The 2015 Pool B match contested between Pakistan & India drew in over 1 billion viewers [naturally], and tickets were sold out within 12 minutes of going sale. You don’t think this has an influence over the ICC? Or do you think they mistook Srinivasan’s SIL for a Tamil movie star? LOL!

    »⇛http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/india-cricket-world-cup-win-174313

    I cannot believe you brought up England, when you surely know that cricket is an absolutely minor sport there, drowned out by football. Australia has 20 million people vs India’s 1.3 billion. India’s decimal point is 15 times larger than the most hopeful audience Australia can muster. BTW, the “Big 3” includes the 2 richest countries that play cricket, and India. What do you suppose India’s entry into that band of brothers is for, hmmmm?

    I also like the way you twisted the statement to go from being one of undue influence, to conspiracy. Nice.

    Unfortunately for you, I’m not the only one who thinks this:

    »⇛http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/02/economist-explains-13Recommend

  • Headstrong

    India’s presence in the Big 3 is certainly because of its financial clout, no denying that. But what’s so outrageous about it? Don’t see you questioning England’s clout in the footballing world – even when it consistently underperforms. In fact, India’s performance in world cricket is certainly far better than England’s performance in world football. But the UK having 4 teams in football (England, Wales, Scotland, N Ireland) when it is one country doesn’t get your goat.
    Your grouse is purely India’s clout in the cricketing world. As long as England and Australia dominated, there was no issue. Well, get prepared for more griping. This situation isn’t going to change in a hurry.
    Re India’s win in 2011. You claim that you’re not the only one who thinks that “The 2011 CWC was designed so that the biggest teams were kept in for as long as possible, and that especially included India, given the 2007 debacle” and give a link to an Economist article that apparently supports your claim. Unfortunately the article claims that the format of the 2015 WC was so as to keep max big teams in the hunt for as long as possible. The 2011 win was explained away by “Indian pitches”! No mention of the Champions Trophy win in England 2013. The article goes on to say that “despite beating Pakistan in their opening game on February 15th, they are now in poor form” – this written during the league stages, where India won all of its matches and only lost in the SF to the eventual champions. My point is – this is a blog, where people express opinions. The article you quote so authoritatively is also a blog. You know what they say about opinions…
    Let’s get to the real issue raised by this particluar blog. You chose to respond to my comment wherein I stated that India had won the WC twice, whereas 2 of the teams mentioned by Rafique hadn’t won it even once, despite having had it held in home conditions. Now, dig out your conspiracy regarding the ’83 triumph too, Sherlock. And the other successes I have mentioned. Good luck. Recommend

  • Bangladeshi fan

    And like a typical Indian the point of my post just sails right past..the poster stated Bangladeshis should stop the “whining” after a particular game of cricket as if this really meant that Bangladeshi (cricket) fans were particularly whiny.

    This is ludicrous coming from an Indian, whose fans moan incessantly about everything, the Sharapova case being a typical example.

    In fact your typically witless reply (completely missing the point and going straight for jingoism of the lowest order, that too with all the characteristic sharpness of a butter knife) really underlines my point.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    And Pakistan is still the top 3 Test & T20 team. So live with it.

    Pakistan has a much better win ration against India. & Pakistan has beaten India the most after Australia.Recommend

  • Dr Eskander

    India definitely a Top cricket team . No doubt about it.
    Then why India ( Srinivasan) stopped computer camera 3rd umpire review during ban vs India WC quaterfinal game in Australia ?
    Recommend