Mashrafe Mortaza’s team getting ousted by India for the second consecutive time in showpiece events would be a bitter pill for their die-hard fans to swallow.
Shared News| Updated: July 4, 2019 9:52:09 am
Bangladesh supporters are known for their over-the-top celebrations. (AP)
The one team Bangladesh is obsessed about beating, more than any other, is India. It can be gauged from the over-the-top, sometimes even premature, celebrations that their players and fans indulge in on the rare occasions that they get one across their much bigger neighbours.
Mushfiqur Rahim’s premature exultation during the 2016 ICC World T20 clash and a few distasteful ads after Mustafizur Rahman helped Bangladesh win an ODI series on home soil are cases in point. India hadn’t lost to Bangladesh in ODIs since 2015 though, which could explain why the perennially upbeat Tigers were much more muted going into the crucial clash.
There is a general feeling among the Bangladeshi cricket fraternity that despite their recent improvement, they have been found wanting against India. According to Al-Amin writing in Daily Star, Tuesday’s match “was another painful defeat for the Tigers against a team that they are seemingly obsessed with beating, but a team that somehow manages to make them always press the self-destruct button. India are certainly a better side… But Bangladesh have developed a disturbing tendency of buckling under pressure whenever they have faced the mighty Indians over the past four years.”
Tamim Iqbal dropping Rohit Sharma in the fifth over of the match had a “devastating” effect on the team, not just in terms of runs, but also in the way of morale. Al-Amin believes the target of 315 was difficult to chase, but Bangladesh’s failure had more to do with their own frailties.
“The Tigers batsmen were more to be blamed than the quality of the Indian attack for failing to chase down that stiff target,” Al-Amin wrote. “But more importantly for the Tigers as a unit, it was yet another opportunity lost to overcome the Indian hoodoo,” he added.
On other pages of the paper, Sakeb Subhan pointed to the Tigers’ lesser than confident attitude, saying, “It seemed that a catch that early in the innings was not what Tamim was expecting. It was an early example of the Tigers hoping for the best but not expecting it.”
He stressed that captain Mortaza wasn’t too convinced about their abilities either: “Surprisingly for a renowned fighter on the field of cricket, he seemed to hold out very little hope of winning the match against India.”
Picking on the poor body language: Mashrafe’s uncertainty about what to do with the toss, Shakib conceding a boundary through midwicket and the listless fielding and bowling effort appeared listless, he added, “fielders in the deep were lost in their own thoughts and those in the infield had to wave and shout to capture their attention when the bowler wanted a change in the field.” The Dhaka Tribute noted: “Bangladeshis are feeling bad because they “believed”, rather than thought – a national ailment.”
India to B’desh: Bye, bye, fare thee whale
It’s a jungle out there, this cricketing world. And India cricketers are outcasts of sorts. Unlike most teams, they don’t have any animal association. Their fans don’t travel to stadiums with stuffed toys. They don’t have a designated mascot that symbolises the predatory instincts they aspire for. Indian cricketers go by the rather unimaginative ‘what you see, is what you get’ nickname Men in Blue.
Bangladesh meanwhile, call themselves Tigers, Aussies are kangaroos, New Zealanders are famously called the Kiwis and the English get referred to as Three Lions. By the way, the English women’s team is Lionesses. South Africa switched from fauna to flora, Proteas replacing Sprinboks post-Apartheid.
The “Coolest second name Award” has been with the West Indies for years now. Who can match Calypso charmers and the Caribbeans. But by the end of their game against Bangladesh, India had joined the Zoo.
Leading Dhaka daily Daily Star wrote: “Bangladesh have worse results against other teams. They won only one of 21 matches against Australia and against Pakistan, they have won just five of 36. However, India remain the White Whale for the Tigers, not just because of a 5-29 win-loss ratio, but because in recent times India have been the one fish — or mammal — that got away despite Bangladesh having them in their grasp.” Wouldn’t Blue Whale be better, or should we make it Orange (Sharks)?.
End of an era
A day after Bangladesh exited the World Cup tumultuously, came the announcement of another familiar sight leading to the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium being ordered to ease out. The iconic, colourful albeit brutally barrowing rickshaws were banned from three major thoroughfares of Dhaka — Elephant Road, Progoti Sarani and Mirpur Road – along Gabtoli which is an approach to the stadium.
With an effort to combat traffic congestion, the ban was declared on Wednesday, due to be enforced from Sunday, July 7. Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said,
“We have decided to bar rickshaws, legunas, human hauliers and other unauthorized vehicles [three-wheelers].”
The urban authority is pushing for greater public transport as it seeks to ease out what was the Japanese ‘nintaku’ operating since 1930s. The colourful motifs – painting of which turned into art as cinema, animals and landscapes got depicted – were a part of the cricket experience for many trooping into the Mirpur Stadium. However, the rickshaw-pullers and pedal-pushers worked in inhuman conditions, and less crucially cost Dhaka 3.2 million man hours in a day.
“Engineering and Technology (Buet) said that Dhaka’s urban transportation infrastructure needs an extensive overhaul by the government. It noted that the everyday congestion is not terminal, but rather a nagging problem which could be just as easily solved with dedicated initiatives,” said Dhaka Tribune. Catches dropped – Rohit Sharma’s was lamented at length in newspapers – may have cost Bangladesh the semifinal spot, but this foresight at dealing with problems before they reached the brim showed through as the ‘people’s team’ came very close to chasing some real stiff totals.
Bangladesh hits a Snaifu
Mohammad Saifuddin, who had conceded 59 runs in seven overs earlier in the day, wanted to make amends and was in with a chance to do so with a 38-ball unbeaten 51 before Bumrah intervened with two yorkers. There was more than just a semifinal spot at the end of the rainbow for Saifuddin. He wanted to clear his name after a news item earlier in the tournament had alleged that he had a ‘big-match phobia’. “I felt very bad. What sort of an allegation is that! It was not only painful, but for a sportsperson, downright disrespectful,” he had told a reporter close to him then.
The context was Saifuddin skipping the league match against Australia, allegedly on the pretext of an injury. It was known later that the all-rounder from Chittagong had played Bangladesh’s first match of the tournament – against South Africa – after taking an injection and didn’t want to take another one so soon. It would have been a risk and could have put him out for several matches later in the piece.
The team management wasn’t best pleased, which probably explains the negative story. According to Saifuddin, it motivated him to prove the Doubting Thomases wrong by winning a big match on his own. “I’m now determined to be a hero after winning a match for my country against a top team,” Saifuddin said in the mixed zone after the match.
“I wanted to fight till the last today to disprove all that had been said about me. Reaching the semifinals would have made the tournament memorable for us. For players like us, we have nothing to do but give our answers on the field of play. That is what we try to do.” Until Bumrah strikes.
DM to ask about future PM
Mashrafe Mortaza will play his last World Cup game on Friday. And though he has no plans yet of retiring from international cricket (he has said this will be his last World Cup) there is already an intrigue building over his second career — politics. Mortaza was asked if he’d be hoping to vie for another form of leadership. “Are we looking at the next Prime Minister in the next 10, 15 years?” a journalist asked him.
The question wasn’t without a base. Mortaza is one of the most loved players in Bangladesh. He contested in Bangladesh’s general elections last year under Awami League’s banner and won the Narail constituency by a huge margin. Then, of course, there’s the example of Imran Khan.
But Mortaza wouldn’t be drawn into that debate — yet. He smiled sheepishly, searching for the right answer to the question he clearly did not expect during a World Cup. After a few nervous moments, he replied: “surely not.” Maybe the same question will have a different answer a week or so later, after Mortaza’s World Cup career is over.
Jesy jaisi koi nai
It was almost the end of the road for Bangladesh, but the start of a big journey for former Bangla women’s team cricketer Shathira Jakir Jesy. The right-handed batter and off-break bowler debuted during the India-Bangladesh game as the first female commentator from Bangladesh on a global platform and had flown out to Mumbai for a stint with the official broadcaster in India.
“This is a historic moment for Bangladesh – for the first time ever, a Bangladeshi girl will commentate on Star Sports. It feels great to think I am that person,” she told Dhaka Tribune. Born in Lalmonirhat, Jesy did her schooling till class 7, and defied all those who crinkled their noses at her playing cricket.
“My inspiration was Sachin Tendulkar. When I was getting to know of him, he already had 18 centuries in his bag. He was the reason I fell in love with the game,” the now mother of a 2-yr-old girl had told Daily Star some years ago.
After the women’s team was formed in 2007, Jesy played a dozen years — including after becoming a mother.
“I have even been in situations where I have put on my helmet and gloves to go out to bat and my daughter is in my arms….I tell my fellow players to ensure that if she is crying, I do not hear her or see her while I am batting,” she told talkshow host Naveed Mahbub. Casual sexism is rampant on that show, and Jesy was left politely engaging on the matter of skin colour which veered towards talk of dark chocolate in the most febrile twisted ways. However, she did talk about how she drove a bike — she came to the show pillion on one of the bike rent apps — and about raising children — his 3 against her’s 1.
“What happens is, now that you have one, even if they break a nail, you will take them to Emergency. People like us with three kids don’t care if one has broken their head,” the bombastic host cackled. With stints with Bangla channels which didn’t steer away from cricket and that one with Mr Twist which barely touched upon the sport (the 2011 ODI status, becoming the first bunch of females to receive salary for playing and the 2010 Asiad silver), Jesy was prepped for the big debut. While her best buddy Shakib had had a great tournament will then, it all ended the day she started on the mic.
“Shakib and I have been friends since our academy days. We even go to the same university now. He is definitely one of my favourites from the men’s team. He and I get together every now and then and discuss games, tips and techniques,” she had said.