- India faces Bangladesh in the first semi final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017
- Bangladesh beat New Zealand while India beat Pakistan and South Africa to reach the semi finals
- Although India has a 5-1 lead over Bangladesh in ICC tournaments, Bangladesh is not a team to be taken lightly
The cricketing crowd of the subcontinent countries is as passionate and unruly as the football fans of Europe. People resort to name calling, stand-offs and sometimes heckling their own country’s players. Now the fans have taken to the internet to support their team and make fun of their opponents.
The most vocal of the crowd until recently were from India and Pakistan. The political rivalry between the two countries also spilt onto the cricketing field, and India-Pakistan matches have been some of the most intense in the history of sports.
However, the political instability of Pakistan also got the better of Pakistan cricket. Pakistan was known as the land of pacers. But Pakistan has suddenly stopped producing bowlers like Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar and Waqar Younis. The last of their best bowlers got embroiled in match-fixing and are facing bans. The 2009 attack on Sri Lankan cricket team by Taliban ensured that no cricketing country would tour Pakistan until its political situation improves. Even the last India-Pakistan match in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy 2017 had the game weighing heavily in India’s favour. To be honest, the spark in the India-Pakistan matches is missing.
On the other hand, Indian fans are focusing their attention on Bangladesh who has drastically improved their game and also their rivalry with India.
The first blow from Bangladesh to an unsuspecting India came during World Cup 2007. India was one of the finalists in 2003 and so went into World Cup 2007 as the favourites. But to the horror of the fans and the players alike, they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Bangladesh in the group stages. A defeat at the hands of West Indies saw India out of the World Cup race.
The Indian captain and coach were sacked, and MS Dhoni took over the reins. India won the 2007 World Twenty20, the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy.
The rivalry really kicked off in 2015.
In the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup, India beat Bangladesh by 109 runs to advance to the semi-finals. However, Bangladesh expressed outrage over two umpiring decisions. Ian Gould called ‘no ball’ to a delivery by Rubel Hossain to Rohit Sharma when the latter was on 90. Replays showed that the ball was precariously placed over and at waist length. Rohit went on to score 137.
During Bangladesh’s batting, a catch by Shikhar Dhawan to dismiss Mohammad Mahmudullah angered Bangladeshi’s who claimed that Dhawan’s foot was touching the boundary rope. Then ICC President, Bangladesh’s Mustafa Kamal, resigned as a sign of protest against decisions that he claimed was biased in India’s favour.
At the World Twenty20 2016, hosted by India, Bangladesh needed two off two balls to send India crashing out of the tournament. But Hardik Pandya bowled brilliantly, and India won, reaching the semi-finals.
But after India lost to West Indies, Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim, who was at strike when India won against Bangladesh, posted a tweet deriding India. He had to delete the tweet after receiving severe backlash.
In this year’s Champions Trophy, Bangladeshi fans have already started posting their tweets against India. A recent image of a tiger draped in Bangladeshi flag pouncing upon a dog which is wrapped in the Indian tricolour has been doing rounds on the internet.
But the captains of both teams are unfazed and remain focused on the game.
Virat Kohli said that he is not taking Bangladesh lightly. He praised Bangladesh’s brilliant win against New Zealand chasing a total of 265 after they were down to 33 for four wickets at one stage of the game. He said that Bangladesh knows how to win matches from difficult situations.
Bangladesh may not be the favourites in the match against India. However, this year’s Champions Trophy has handed us some surprises. And so writing off Bangladesh might be a big mistake.
And as we speak, the fans of both cricketing nations are busy making their best memes.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:52 PM IST