NEWS ANALYSIS Thank You, Tigers

An avid follower of Bangladesh cricket said that she had never been as tense as she was during the Tigers’ chase towards a modest Indian total of 200 in the rain-hit second one-dayer at Mirpur on Sunday.

The lady is one of those who have been following the Tigers for a long time and had been utterly disappointed over and over again, watching her beloved team surrendering against the big names of world cricket in similar situations on many a time before.

In those early days Bangladesh team went into a game with the mindset of minimising a defeat, focused on small individual achievements. At that time the board employed foreign coaches more importantly to bat against the hateful press. A success was few and far between those chronic defeats. It was also a painful endeavour for those Bangladeshi cricket writers then to portray those demoralising defeats day in day out. At times it appeared so boring that many felt it was wise to copy the last article with a slight change of scores and names instead of writing a fresh report.

And then there were some cricketers-turned-experts who never ceased to question the very existence of Bangladesh in the top flight of world cricket. There was a David Hookes who said Australia should make a Test against Bangladesh into a one-day affair. There is a Rameez Raja, a Navjot Singh Sidhu, a Geoffrey Boycott, a Virender Sehwag et al, whose comments were more to do with belittling this passionate cricketing nation in desperate times.

This yours truly still remembers two very powerful remarks, the first one by an England journalist during Bangladesh’s first Test at Lord’s in 2005 when he quipped that the ECB should never entertain a team like Bangladesh in the Mecca of cricket.

The second one is India’s 1993 World Cup hero Ravi Shastri. He was managing the Indian team in Bangladesh after their first-round exit from the 2007 World Cup. He was upset with that stunning World Cup defeat to the Tigers that he made no secret about.

“We will not take any prisoners,” Shastri said on his arrival in Dhaka for that series.

It has always been a rough ride for Bangladesh and the Tigers have been playing with that minnows tag until they arrived at this year’s World Cup down under.

And the wind slowly but surely started to change. A quarterfinal berth at the expense of heavyweights England hardly reflected the true story of how well they played in Australia and New Zealand, a testing condition for any team from the sub-continent. It was not just that the Tigers beat England, chased down Scotland’s 300-plus score in style or brushed aside debutants Afghanistan in the showpiece event. It was their aggressive brand of cricket that almost had the Kiwis, who blew anything and everything with the ferocity of typhoon, in the threshold of a defeat.

The world has witnessed what had happened in the quarterfinal against India where more than one umpiring decisions had gone against a combative Tigers. After the quarterfinal defeat one interesting post in one of this writer’s article struck most. The post read: Bangladesh should be happy with what it has achieved so far in the World Cup. Three wins including two against Associate nations could have meant little had their game against Australia not been washed out. And the big defeat against India reminds them where they belong.

The Tigers needed little time to disprove these kinds of harsh remarks by completing a magnificent 3-0 whitewash against Pakistan immediately after the World Cup. As it has always been the case cynics tried to play down that success as they did after Bangladesh’s famous win against the same team in the 1999 World Cup. But this time they termed this Pakistan team as young and inexperienced. They are young but one should better ask the Sri Lankans, now hosting the same Pakistan team, if it’s an advantage they are exploiting.

The biggest test for Bangladesh was when India arrived in the Tigers’ den to play one Test and three ODIs. And after the one-day series that the home side won 2-1, the Tigers have made a big statement that they aren’t pushovers any more.

It’s true that Bangladesh have not improved as a Test team as they have as a one-day unit. But we will also have to consider the amount of Tests they are allowed to play. Besides, one seasoned cricket writer in a talk show rightly said that Bangladesh’s arrival in international cricket was at a time when one-day cricket was more prominently displayed than Test because of its commercial appeal.

The Tigers’ easy wins against India in the first two ODIs that sealed a historic series success surprised many. Many Indian experts tried to attach those defeats to complacency or to burnt-out factor.

But the moment India won the third game convincingly, the immediate reaction from across the border was MS Dhoni’s men are back to their usual self and Bangladesh to their old.

How should one sane person react to that? It’s better to say that those two defeats did not make India a bad team or Bangladesh the world’s best overnight.

The truth is that the Tigers have shown the world they are increasingly becoming a very competitive unit on their home soil. They are playing an attractive brand of cricket. They have got a very healthy pipeline. They have got unbridled talents lurking in remote villages and waiting to surprise the world like Mustafizur Rahman.

They are now not a team ready to die without a good fight. We just can’t stop loving these enfant terribles.

Thank you, the new brand of Tigers.

Source: The Daily Star


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here