Morning of 30th January 2015.
So India is on its way out from the Tri series down under- another pathetic all round batting+bowling+fielding performance to maintain our spotless losing streak on the current tour in Australia. It was right then that I found the perfect antidote to feel a little less sad. My colleague in my bay wanted to talk about his team’s chances about the Cricket World Cup due in a fortnight’s time- and it was his country of origin which got me thinking. He is from -well, Bangladesh- enough said.
Now how would he and his fellow countrymen approach a cricket world cup? I mean it would be vastly different from the expectations from us in India,right? Where we are the defending champions- no matter how remote the chances look, no matter how overboard Star Sports has gone shouting ‘We won’t give it back’- as if it was Srinivasan’s BCCI/ICC/CSK/MS Dhoni ownership…ok,we digress-back to our friend from Shonar Bangla.
The current Bangladesh team: So I ask him who are the star performers in your team. He answers in a split second-Shakib Al Hasan. Ok, who are there in the team who can win matches? Shakib Al Hasan-he says again. So who is the best bowler in the team? He looks at me as if asking- ‘cmon!’ I look puzzled- he nods and tells me-there is no one else in the team worth talking about. That crushes me.
‘Everyone is an Afridi’: He mentions that every player in the Bangladesh team is like Shahid Afridi. I ask him does that mean all of them are 18 till they die? He patiently explains- they are too erratic in their shot making, are too careless, play away from the body,no footwork, throw their wicket away….. ‘Dhawan #$%’- I murmur- he barely hears me.
When winning at home is a worry(2013:Bangla-3,New Zealand-0) : This was the most amazing anecdote. He talked about the rare home series victory that Bangla had versus New Zealand in late 2013. With each of the 3 wins in the series, apparently the entire country was getting even more scared that how badly was New Zealand going to shred them to pieces when they meet in their backyard in Hamilton during the group fixture.
The fixtures(Bangladesh’s 2015 cup schedule) : Both the hosts Australia and New Zealand being in the same group isn’t much of an encouragement. The toughest games though are against fellow minnows Scotland and Afghanistan- the pressure is always on Bangla the moment they take the field as anything but underdogs. They are not used to this unusual feeling, and it makes them play a different brand of cricket than what they are used to.
Have to win the toss: He tells me the entire nation will be praying that Mortaza wins the toss and elects to bat vs Australia/New Zealand/Sri Lanka. Logic being simple. There is much less shame in losing after scoring a 150 odd – than fielding first and conceding a 400+ score and resetting the record books from the wrong side- a feeling all too familiar for them now.
Favourite cup moment: He fondly recollects the memories of Port of Spain 2007 (here), when India was beaten green and yellow by them ( ya, Greg Chappel, thank you ) and their nation had a week long holiday declared to celebrate the same.
What about India’s chances in the ’15 cup? He chuckles- you are just a ‘sub continental world cup champion.’ This from someone who gets worried each time(not too often) they win a home series fearing a mauling when they visit the country in the return rubber.
Thank you neighbour. That was some boost listening to you on a day when Moeen Ali was treated by the Indian batsmen as if Saqlain Mushtaq and Muralitharan were his biological parents.