Bangladesh V. India ODI series: A Bangladeshiâ€™s journal
I: The Day Before
The new day yawns and stretches out of its slumber across the early morning
horizon. The sharp, muggy sunlight glides right through the tightly drawn curtains
with the easy arrogance of a familiar marauder, the one who comes and goes as
he pleases. Too hot for unseen birds to announce the day with a riot of sounds
from cooler seasons. Where are they now?
Semi-asleep, I feel my eyelids getting warmer, adding strange hues of light
to the serene darkness within. The buzz from the ceiling fan begins to seep
into my consciousness. The draft. Those curtains being gently sucked in further
towards the center of the room, before pulling themselves back to the window
like docile children. Convex, concave.... movement along the z-axis. The contemporary
grillwork all skewed in those clear, high res shadows. Shifting shape like thick,
metallic, malleable liquid. Itâ€™s so nice and cool in here, so far from
the promise of another scorcher outside these walls. Time to face another dayâ€¦
anytime now. What will I see? How clear are those shadows? How distorted? Tomorrowâ€™s
Match day in Dhaka, and Iâ€™ll be thereâ€¦ WOW.
How will they do? Will they keep it as tight as they can, and let us catch
another glimpse of the very best that all of us can be? Or will they just wilt
early and wither away? I'd remember them either way. I remember our novices
being manhandled by Grandmasters - being pinned, forked and mated as we found
ways deal with the added humiliation of being at the wrong end of getting too
much, too soon. I also remember our guys rising out of those episodes with the
youthful gleam of an unexpected optimism and eloquence - willed and fabricated
purely out of the collective consciousness of the Bangladeshi experience - and
turn the table on those idols. Iâ€™m partial to those good times, however
rare they may be, because they add to that Bangladeshi experience by bringing
all of us together.
Time to tuck ourselves back into the power of positive thinking. With all the
data on placebo-effects and psychosomatic suggestion, maybe itâ€™s not all
that hokey after all. Itâ€™s not everyday you hear the wise old men of cricket
bully the new eight-year old in the block because heâ€™s afraid to lose
II: First, Second & Itâ€™s Over Before The Third
Mashrafe was sorely missed
in the first ODI.
First the heat, then the legitimately raised expectations, and finally watching
our very own captain duckworth handing it to the opposition one single at a
time... physically, emotionally and intellectually (what's left of it!) exhausting.
Kudos to Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al-Hasan for keeping the faith... Ashraful,
Aftab and Rafique for doing whatever they could with the little time they had.
Making Mongia look good isnâ€™t that tough when time is not on your side.
The seamers, despite being belted around the park for a few, fought back well
against the hostilities, and did alright given the limitations beyond their
control at this particular stage in their development as international cricketers.
The spinners, especially Razzak and Shakib, were stellar despite the bland,
soulless wicket. We missed Mashrafe and his sheer gumption. We missed out on,
Iâ€™d say at least 20-30 more runs and a couple of early breakthroughs because
of his injury. How many more runs thatâ€™s hard to say with Javed Omar finally
hogging the crease with success. The customary, complacent captaincy, other
flubs and fumbles here and there did the rest, and the day's luck opened a door
for our guests. Dinesh Karthik helped M.S. Dhoni rise to the occasion and hobble
right through that door and here we are: 1 zip India.
Let's just hope that they learn from their mistakes ...this time around. I
didnâ€™t hear the fat lady singing yetâ€¦
â€¦ Until the second ODI: India win best-of-three series 2 zipâ€¦
India was the hands-down better team in the last game and deserved to win for
once. Piyush Chawla is quite a find. The rotation and deceptive nature of the
flight when itâ€™s there, alongside an uncanny ability to turn the ball
and make it dip right before a possible contact with the bat, make him one to
watch. It may be a bit too early to tell, but I wonâ€™t be surprised if
the comparisons to Shane Warne are not deemed too premature before long. The
straightening dip bamboozling Ashraful was a thing of less than subtle beauty.
Gautam Gambhir, the latest edition of the sensible Indian opener in the tradition
of Wasim Jaffer, delivered the goods with his well-timed ton. The question remains,
as always, will he continue to do so, and for how much longer? Yuvraj Singh,
Muhammad Kaif and now Dinesh Karthik add the type of Chamara De Silva-like youthful,
positive burst to the overall Indian game at least I havenâ€™t seen before.
Irfan Pathan going back to his bowling roots, and his brother Yousuf waiting
in the wings to have a go at opposition bowlers, add to that youthful dynamism.
Last but not least, Manoj Tiwary, though we havenâ€™t had the chance to
see him in action yet, is the other real deal whose aggressive batting will
take India to a brighter future.
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza remains the lone bright star in our team who shines no
matter how overcast the day may be otherwise. The sheer ferocity of his belligerent
sixes lifted us higher than we thought possible in an otherwise dismal Bangladeshi
performance. Still very young and injury-prone, he shouldnâ€™t be goaded
into the all-rounder role like Irfan Pathan for obvious reasons. He needs to
grow into that role at his own pace like an Imran Khan. We hope that others
like Ashraful, Tamim, Shakib, Mushfiq and Razzak learn to glow just as consistently
and brightly and make Bangladesh the world-beating young Tigers they can be
before long. Itâ€™s not everyday that Bangladesh has a real chance to defeat
its evidently more formidable and experienced neighbor and take the ODI series,
yet we did after the World Cup. We missed a great opportunity the minute our
team selectors decided that a continued Bashar inclusion not just Captaincy,
and Javed Omarâ€™s painfully palpable limitations as a batsman are liabilities
the team could shoulder without terrible consequences. They were wrong and we
lost. The phrase honorable loss is readily embraced as the word oxymoron is
not in their vocabulary - the word moron, we feel should be. Maybe such an honorable
loss is not considered such a terrible thing to a has-been generation who donâ€™t
share the more positive attitude of their nephews, perhaps because as cricketers
they never had that kind of talent themselves. I hope the likes of Alok Kapali,
Nafis Iqbal, Nadif Chowdhury, and Junaed Siddique in the not too distant future,
donâ€™t continue to get the shaft because of their complex-laden minds.
The writing was on the wall when Bashar let the first ODI drip away from our
grasp, one single at a time. Once again clueless, defensive field settings leaking
more singles at critical junctures, and adding to early Indian hostilities cost
us the second and decisive one. His weirdly gleeful come-back after a string
of failures, meaning 43 from 88 balls chasing 280 plus after the teamâ€™s
big guns have fallen by the wayside, just add to the frustrations, and pretty
much exemplify the kind of ODI Captain slash self-centered batsman Bashar is.
His dot-ball buddy Omar with a shaky strike rate of 52, went right back into
that familiar shell and wasted the time that nobody except the Indians had in
the match. To his partial credit, he did play out of his skin in the first ODI
during one of those once-in-a-lifetime flukes that, unfortunately for the rest
of us, introduced Ashraful and Aftab a little too late in the match with reasonably
predictable results. Enough said. With the last ODI still to come in a few days,
letâ€™s see if our young Tigers can salvage the only thing they can at this
point, and once again give us a glimpse of our own bright future...
III: The Rained Out Third
The opportunity to salvage something, anything out of the series couldnâ€™t
be super sopped out of the stadium. The ever-present potential of a Mohammad
Ashraful century or Mashrafe Bin Mortaza rampaging through the oppositionâ€™s
batting order before hitting a few out of the park, always gives us a chance
to dream, and win games we need to win. Maybe we were spared another painful
Anyway, the weird elation and bravado in the Indian campâ€™s a little scary.
Let â€˜em have their moment I say. Being hopelessly lost in one's own media-hyped
delusions of grandeur can be as deadly as it has been to Indian cricket and
its pathetic record outside the comforts of home. A little disturbing to see
the wise old men of world cricket go all gaga over being allowed to win by a
young boy of 8 odd years. Fabricating a false self-image due to deeply buried,
unresolved issues, believing in the hype, and finally having the media perpetuate
the myth, does not mitigate the need for the mask to confess and come clean
before real positive change can do what it's supposed to do. I weep for the
Piyush Chawlas, Manoj Tiwarys and Yousuf Pathans if the powerful simulacrum of
Indian Cricket doesnâ€™t learn to ease up a bit on the jubilation before
putting things in proper perspective. Time to grow up guys, growing into senile
old fools is easy. We at least have youth as the excuse. Doesnâ€™t matter
anymore. On to the Tests, a different cup of tea all together. I, along with
a hundred and fifty million more, anticipate pleasant surprises.