Bangladesh does not cease to surprise
Something tells me not everything is right in Bangladesh cricket. People celebrate in the streets before and after matches, sometimes irrespective of the result. There is a feeling at times that it’s soccer in Europe when car after car pass by with young men sticking their busts out of windows and sun roofs flying Bangladesh flags and blowing vuvuzelas. But then, what are they really celebrating?
Is it a win by Bangladesh over Ireland? Then what were they celebrating when India won the opening match?
One such group was taking a break in front of our hotel on Friday night and I asked them: “Do you think naming Tamim Iqbal Man-of-the-Match was right?” Asif Kamal took a long drag in his cigarette and said: “Who cares? We are just having fun.”
I was a little surprised by his candid acceptance. Ask the same to a Bengali in Kolkata and he will surely take away half the night explaining to you why he thought it was wrong and the only thing that could have won him the award ahead of Shafiul Islam was the diving catch he took and how life is not always fare and why the petrol prices are going up almost every week and might just even link it to Mamata’s Rail Budget.
But Bangladesh too is full of surprises. The same country where sometimes people light up inside the airport terminal hardly caring to walk down to the smoking area, there are streets with No Smoking signs. The country that boasts of laying their lives for the sanctity of Bangla use a generous amount of Urdu words in conversation and sometimes when someone uses the Bangla word for the same, they look at you with a blank expression.
Looking at the wicket on Friday I was surprised to see it was not designed to suit Bangladesh’s strengths: stroke-making or spin.
The wicket was very slow and low and the Bangladesh batting lineup is clogged with stroke-makers and pinch hitters. Tamim, Shakib, Mushfiq, Junaid, Imrul all like the ball to come on to the bat. The only grafter in the squad Mohmudullah was dropped.
Again, it was not as if the wicket turned square. Whatever turn the bowlers got was slow and a batsman with a slightly better technique would have taken the match away. That spin seemed alien to Ireland batsmen and they are here in the subcontinent harboring hopes of creating more history is another matter.
A similar ploy could work against the Dutch but is unlikely to work against better teams. And Bangladesh will have to win at least three of their six group matches to have a chance of going through.
Last night everyone was so happy celebrating that no one seemed concerned. It was good to see former Bangladesh assistant coach Khaled Mahmud Sujon voicing similar concerns in an off the record chat. Mahmud, the hero of the 1997 World Cup win over Pakistan, had quit from the post as well as severed links with the Bangladesh Cricket Board after reported differences of opinion with Australian coach Jamie Siddons. He is currently coach of Abahani and runs a real estate business. There are some other issues too brewing regarding team selection and side lining Mashrafe Mortaza.
Had Bangladesh lost on Friday things could have spilled in the open, even heads could have rolled. But for the moment it’s just surprises.
By Nilankur Das