April 14, 2012

A new regard for Bangladesh

It's not far-fetched to see them develop an enduring rivalry with Pakistan
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Sitting transfixed during last month's Asia Cup final, Pakistani fans went through an emotion they hadn't felt before. As the match approached a crescendo, they felt unsure whose side they were on. Even hot-blooded diehards, the kind who paint the star and crescent on their faces and wear Pakistan ODI shirts to bed, experienced these feelings. A friend of mine who is firmly of that ilk put the matter this way: it wasn't really that he wanted Bangladesh to win, but had Bangladesh won, he would not have minded it all that much.

Misbah-ul-Haq, a man of intelligence and insight, captured the sentiment best. Relieved to lift the trophy after a cliffhanger, he said that the real winners of the contest had been Bangladesh. This comment must have resonated loudly in Dhaka and beyond. It certainly captured the mood of the audience back in Pakistan.

For Bangladesh this is a new level of regard and respect. They have been playing international cricket since 1986 but have found it difficult to compete alongside the frontline teams. Despite this disappointing record, they made an articulate statement through the Asia Cup that drew attention to their ability and ambition.

It may perhaps be premature to speak of the arrival of Bangladesh, in that they have several rungs to climb on the rankings ladder before they can be considered an elite team. But they have definitely grown into an authentic threat in limited-overs cricket, where they seem to have established a new consistency that cannot be trivialised. Over the last three years their ODI win-loss ratio stands at 0.77, against 0.38 overall. In the Asia Cup they defied odds to overcome Sri Lanka and India, and twice nearly beat Pakistan. In the tournament final they had the upper hand going into the last over, and nearly pulled off a win.

Several features of Bangladesh's performance confirm an emerging trajectory in the short game. They played with talent and flair in all departments, and they repeatedly rose to meet challenges head-on. Their make-up reveals traces from the DNA of their Asian neighbours - excitement and style from Pakistan, excellence in the chase from India, a taste for unorthodoxy from Sri Lanka.

Already they have in their midst a brilliant cricketer in Shakib Al Hasan, who has been and continues to be the No. 1 ODI allrounder in the ICC rankings. They also have a dashing and debonair opening batsman in Tamim Iqbal, and in Nasir Hossain an attacking middle-order batsman with a remarkable ODI average of 41.90 from 14 matches; his career may be less than a year old, but most teams would be pleased to select him.

As with India, Pakistan shares a bitter and bloody history with Bangladesh. The two countries came to life in 1947 as Siamese twins, and their tenuous connection was rudely severed in 1971. So the context is already in place

Pakistani fans have been harbouring mixed feelings towards Bangladesh after the Bangladesh Cricket Board protested Pakistan's victory in the final on a technicality. No doubt this was in poor taste, but one should not begrudge them the gesture. If you come so close to a highly competitive international title, emotions can spill over. It could happen to anyone.

It is important to get beyond that and take a broad view on the rise of Bangladesh, because it has the potential to fundamentally alter South Asia's regional cricket dynamic. At the moment the cricket equation within Asia is stymied by the fractious relationship between India and Pakistan. A rising Bangladesh - and possibly also Afghanistan, who are beginning to make credible cricketing noises of their own - has the power to make this stalemate obsolete.

Bangladesh has already successfully launched its own T20 league, in which Pakistani players were welcomed to great acclaim, in contrast to the frosty attitude of the IPL towards Pakistanis. In the long run, it is not difficult to see Pakistan develop a cricketing rivalry with an accomplished Bangladesh team - one that could well rank alongside the traditional one with India. As with India, Pakistan shares a bitter and bloody history with Bangladesh. The two countries came to life in 1947 as Siamese twins, and their tenuous connection was rudely severed in 1971. So the context is very much in place.

For now, Pakistanis will probably find it hard to imagine a series with Bangladesh generating as much ardour and anxiety as one with India, but a competent Bangladesh team could transform that complexion very quickly. Over the last decade Bangladesh have won against every other international team, but they have not beaten Pakistan since 1999. Let Bangladesh beat Pakistan a few times. Let them throw up a few more players into the top of the world rankings. One day, perhaps soon, they will produce the next Virender Sehwag, the next Wasim Akram, the next Kumar Sangakkara. When that happens, a fervent cricketing rivalry between Bangladesh and Pakistan will emerge as surely as flames from a fire. It is a phenomenon waiting to happen.

Saad Shafqat is a writer based in Karachi

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY RelaxBuddy on | April 17, 2012, 15:24 GMT

    sorry saad i dont agree with your ideas or concept. There is no such thing between the fans of Pakistan and Bangladesh. one can praise someone without undermining the other

  • POSTED BY hhillbumper on | April 15, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    Nice to see India supporting their developing neighbours

  • POSTED BY on | April 15, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    @KiwiRocker..you simply rock man..

  • POSTED BY Ruhel_Moscow on | April 15, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    Very very nice article.And we r really thankful to Pakistan.Thank you Pak brothers from BD.

  • POSTED BY on | April 15, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    They are agreed !! They are cmmng Pakistan on 29th and 30th April ! :]

  • POSTED BY on | April 15, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    @ Satyam Kumar. Of course, the rivalry happens between equals. Definitely, not between a team who whitewashed the #1 team in test cricket and a team that was whitewashed twice in the recent past.

  • POSTED BY TruthBites on | April 15, 2012, 5:30 GMT

    This is a strange article. Bangladeshis are connected through hearts of Pakistanis. This is not the case against India. Against India it's like a revenge but against Bangladesh we don't seek revenge in every match for that 1999 WC defeat although it remains fresh in our memories the way we lost it. At the end of the day Pakistanis won't mind Bangladeshis defeating them after a good match but of course we Pakistanis want our team to win every game. Rivalry and regards have different meanings Mr. Writer!

  • POSTED BY CricketFan365 on | April 15, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    Young generation of Bangladesh didn't see what happened in 1971. But they know it from the elders. They also know that without India's help Bangladesh wouldn't have been liberated 41 years ago. So BD people are greatful to India. But everything has changed now. People want to know why they are being deprived from their fundamental need -water, why they are being killed in the borders for years. BD people don't support Indian cricket team anymore. They want to beat them no matter how stronger Cricket team they are. So if you ask who they want to win against the most -it's India, not Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | April 15, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    Nadeem- I quite enjoyed your comment. Numbers always tell an objective story and you have hammered poor Satyam Kumar, however, I wonder if Satyam Kumar was referring to 9-0 in relation to India's recent tours to Australia and England? Should not it be 15-0 in that case?...! I shall also rephrase my earlier comment that B'desh is an ordinary team but they are still capable of beating India as they have done so often in World cup, and Asia cup etc...India is increasingly becoming a bogey team for B'desh..No wonder Tendulya is still celebrating his worthless hundred against B'desh on a flat Dhaka pitch..That just shows that B'desh has a mightly bowling attack!

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | April 15, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    nadeem, like they say, it is in the past. what matters is now.india was no.1, no more. pak was v.good, no longer. sharjah had ind-pak matches, no more. so lets look at recent stats. anyway pak team is looking good now, gl.

  • POSTED BY RelaxBuddy on | April 17, 2012, 15:24 GMT

    sorry saad i dont agree with your ideas or concept. There is no such thing between the fans of Pakistan and Bangladesh. one can praise someone without undermining the other

  • POSTED BY hhillbumper on | April 15, 2012, 19:14 GMT

    Nice to see India supporting their developing neighbours

  • POSTED BY on | April 15, 2012, 13:44 GMT

    @KiwiRocker..you simply rock man..

  • POSTED BY Ruhel_Moscow on | April 15, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    Very very nice article.And we r really thankful to Pakistan.Thank you Pak brothers from BD.

  • POSTED BY on | April 15, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    They are agreed !! They are cmmng Pakistan on 29th and 30th April ! :]

  • POSTED BY on | April 15, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    @ Satyam Kumar. Of course, the rivalry happens between equals. Definitely, not between a team who whitewashed the #1 team in test cricket and a team that was whitewashed twice in the recent past.

  • POSTED BY TruthBites on | April 15, 2012, 5:30 GMT

    This is a strange article. Bangladeshis are connected through hearts of Pakistanis. This is not the case against India. Against India it's like a revenge but against Bangladesh we don't seek revenge in every match for that 1999 WC defeat although it remains fresh in our memories the way we lost it. At the end of the day Pakistanis won't mind Bangladeshis defeating them after a good match but of course we Pakistanis want our team to win every game. Rivalry and regards have different meanings Mr. Writer!

  • POSTED BY CricketFan365 on | April 15, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    Young generation of Bangladesh didn't see what happened in 1971. But they know it from the elders. They also know that without India's help Bangladesh wouldn't have been liberated 41 years ago. So BD people are greatful to India. But everything has changed now. People want to know why they are being deprived from their fundamental need -water, why they are being killed in the borders for years. BD people don't support Indian cricket team anymore. They want to beat them no matter how stronger Cricket team they are. So if you ask who they want to win against the most -it's India, not Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | April 15, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    Nadeem- I quite enjoyed your comment. Numbers always tell an objective story and you have hammered poor Satyam Kumar, however, I wonder if Satyam Kumar was referring to 9-0 in relation to India's recent tours to Australia and England? Should not it be 15-0 in that case?...! I shall also rephrase my earlier comment that B'desh is an ordinary team but they are still capable of beating India as they have done so often in World cup, and Asia cup etc...India is increasingly becoming a bogey team for B'desh..No wonder Tendulya is still celebrating his worthless hundred against B'desh on a flat Dhaka pitch..That just shows that B'desh has a mightly bowling attack!

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | April 15, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    nadeem, like they say, it is in the past. what matters is now.india was no.1, no more. pak was v.good, no longer. sharjah had ind-pak matches, no more. so lets look at recent stats. anyway pak team is looking good now, gl.

  • POSTED BY johnathonjosephs on | April 15, 2012, 1:09 GMT

    I like how many Indian commentors argue that India and Pakistan still have the biggest rivalry. At one point they did (even bigger than the England/Australia rivalry), but it has been dying out in recent times. India/Pakistan aren't doing much politically against each other at the timebeing and less cricket being played (due to nobody touring Pakistan and Pakistan not allowed in India). I have seen in recent times a trend in which the Pakistanis are getting new rivals in Bangladesh/Afghanistan (in the one day format only) and the fastly developing India-Sri Lanka rivalry. India/Sri Lanka is gaining momentum. After the WC Finals, India was kicked out of both the CB Series and the Asia Cup by Sri Lanka. Many Indian fans are getting more riled up when India play Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan fans when playing India (want "revenge" for WC Finals)

  • POSTED BY Nadeem1976 on | April 15, 2012, 1:01 GMT

    Bangladesh was playing at home so i am still not impressed but i agree that bangladesh played very well in asia cup. If Sachin did not play extremely slow 100th 100, india would be in the final and BD would be out of asia cup. So kudus to Sachin for the rise of BD.

    All credit goes to BD for performing well but they are still not elite team at all. They don't have 5 match winning players at all and their batsmen don't score centuries. So still they are minnows.

  • POSTED BY on | April 15, 2012, 0:05 GMT

    Satyam Kumar, only an Indian fan could have come with that ridiculous a comment. Here are some facts for you to chew on: The equation is still 69-48. The best venue might have been UAE with 19 wins and 7 losses, but the second best venue has always been India. 17 wins to 10 losses in their own backyard. The only two venues in which India's record is better are Australia and Bangladesh, which have a combined 16 matches with 6 wins to 10 losses net.

    At every other venue across the globe, Pakistan have OWNED India - and the two have played each other in 11 countries!

    Pakistan batting first - 67, won 38 lost 26. Pakistan batting second - 54, won 31 lost 22.

    Won Toss - 58, Won 33, lost 24. Lost Toss - 63, Won 36, lost 24.

    Even Inzi, who probably had the worst lot to work with when he had taken over in 2004 has an admirable 12-10 ratio against an India which had the quartet in the batting line-up and Kumble/Zaheer/Pathan - some of the best you have had over the decade.

    9-0 sure! Pak-Ind

  • POSTED BY screamingeagle on | April 14, 2012, 21:13 GMT

    Saw a lot of interesting comments, I almost believed the Asia cup was the world cup. Good run for the tiggers, but a load of nonsense comparing it to India 83, pak 92 et al. And Sl too,. It was a good tourney for BD, what matters is how they build on it. If they do, then we can talk of BD becoming a force in intl cricket. Sustained success, that is what is needed, not flashes n the pan. Not degrading the Asia cup performance, just being realistic.

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 19:47 GMT

    Rivalry between subcontinent teams are going to be more tough and competitive. India have strong batting lineup beside poor bowling. Srilanka yet not have replacement of Murali, Vaas and Pakistan have consistent bowling beside unpredictable batting lineup. Bangladesh have excellent team spirit with lots of young guns like shakib, tamim, nasir, mashrafee, razzak whom are very promising.

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    I agree with Pakistan and B'desh forging a rivalry. After all rivalry happens amongst equals and Indo-Pak is no longer a rivalry coz you know what's gonna happen when India plays Pakistan when it matters. 9-0

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    And I think Bangladesh's best cricketing rivalry with be with India.India has the poorest bowling lineup after Netherlands,their fielding is ordinary and batting will go down within a year after Sachin retires.Dravid,Laxman are finished.So no class batsman there.On the other hand the best players of Bangladesh Shakib(25),Tamim(23),Nasir(20) and Mushfiq(23),Mashrafee(28) has a lot more to give.Very tough days waiting for india!!!

  • POSTED BY AQ13 on | April 14, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    well i disagree that pakistan and bangladesh will be bitter rivals because usually their supporters suport each other as well

  • POSTED BY Crikoot on | April 14, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    Very timely memo. Bangladesh should have gone to Pakistan -- there were lot of outside pressure on Bangladesh not to go. Bangladesh should also get more tests with other countries -- home series if not away.

  • POSTED BY thePakistanian on | April 14, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    I agree to an extant that this will revive Bangladesh Cricket. But will not cause any revolution. Revolution to the extant that Indian cricket observed after WINNING 1983 WC,  Pakistan cricket felt after WINNING 1992 WC & especially Sri Lanka observed after WINNING 1996 WC! Reaching Final of Asia Cup is great, but not Revolutionary. Bangladesh need to WIN it or at least shine this much in WC! But still a lot can change in Bangladesh.  South Africa & England never won any WC (except Eng-2009 T20) & still they have great teams! But one Negative thing that I think is coming in Bangladesh cricket is the Feeling that they already are World Champions & this ARROGANCE is NEVER helpful in any field & in Cricket too! So they need to just relax & just enjoy the game. Play with Passion & do ur job seriously without taking it so seriously or then it's not helping ur own cause!

  • POSTED BY AlbertEinstein on | April 14, 2012, 12:53 GMT

    @ KiwiRocker: I absolutely agree with you. At best Pakistan Bangladesh rivalry can match the Australia New Zealand rivalry, where (no offense) everyone knows who stands where. I am 95 percent sure that this Asia Cup is a false dawn just like the 2007 WC when Bangladesh beat India to get into Super 8. The one rivalry that I think will be the next big one will be Afghanistan and Bangladesh (I've heard Afghanis have been invited to play 1st class cricket in Pakistan) and if this is true, you never know they have the genetics to produce the next Shoaib Akhtar.

  • POSTED BY mohashin_reza on | April 14, 2012, 12:09 GMT

    Thanks to the author for this piece. I hope the future will hold good for Bangladesh. As regards to the rivalry, it's always good to have sporting rivalry.

  • POSTED BY frozendilemma on | April 14, 2012, 11:34 GMT

    well then there might be a rivalry between Afghanistan and Pakistan coz you know the history...there might be a rivalry between Ireland and Pakistan coz Ireland kicked out Pakistan...If USA became a good team then there might be a rivalry then but these are all speculations...the real rivalry is the one which you can palpate it like India and Pakistan or maybe England and Aus....

  • POSTED BY smalishah84 on | April 14, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    what a wonderfully well written article Saad. Definitely gives hope for the future. I hope BD become a very good team in the near future

  • POSTED BY crazy.for.cricket on | April 14, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    I both agree and disagree with Mr. KiwiRocker........yes, Bangladesh are certainly not a great side in world cricket right now..but they are defintely not an "Ordinary" team(you sounded like virender sehwag).....The current BD team is by far the best team in their short run in international cricket.....And it certainly has the potential of being one of the dominating teams in world cricket...just remember what happened to Indian cricket after 1983 or to Sri lanka in 1996...they were also considered minnows before that. Bangladesh have been playing International cricket regularly only for the past 15 years now....just wait a bit more.....you will certainly see more surprises...:)

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 9:20 GMT

    Thank you very much for your opinion and expectation on Bangladeshi cricket.

  • POSTED BY z-ahmed on | April 14, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    Credit goes to saad for coming up with such a nice article. I do believe a rivalry is in the offing which would bring a lot of excitement.And i do agree with mr.rakibul because for test we don't have world class bowler apart from Shakib.

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    Fantastic article

  • POSTED BY muannis on | April 14, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    Awesome writing . Although I am not sure about the rivalry. Because, BD & Pak support each other with so much passion that it just can not become rivalry !!

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    Even all the cricketing world combined cannot and will not produce another Wasim AKram...........Just shows the thought process of the writer

  • POSTED BY pradeep_dealwis on | April 14, 2012, 8:03 GMT

    Interesting to see how Afghanistan develops as well!

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    KiwiRocker > Who knows... maybe Bangladesh and New Zealand will develop a rivalry with time given New Zealand is another "ordinary" team? ;)

  • POSTED BY arif29 on | April 14, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    I appreciate your sentiment, Mr. Shafqat.

  • POSTED BY cupidiki on | April 14, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    KiwiRocker;; I agree with you. There is no match between Pak & Bangladesh Cricket Team at the moment. And there is also no match if we talk about the rivalry between Pak & India.

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    Forget Wasim Akram, Sangakkara and Sehwag, if Bangladesh can produce a couple more Shakib Al Hasans, they will be well served for the near future.

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 5:56 GMT

    Not a very gripping one, but not a bad effort! Bangladesh is always like a young brother, and will remain so----nothing like India ;)

  • POSTED BY M_Rakibul_Islam on | April 14, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    A well-written article 4m Saad Shafqat. But he probably doesn't know sitting in Karachi that BCB don't have any time to take care of 1st class tournaments. Bangladesh will no doubt rise in ODI & T-20I but Test cricket. BD-PK rivalry in cricket in ODIs or T-20 will b tasty one due to Historic reason but no contest will b in Test Cricket. Perhaps BD will produce Wasim Akram , Sangakara or Sehwag of ODI ,but not of Test. BCB must change its mentality towards Longer Formats otherwise BD's rise will b a fluke. BD cricketers r intelligent enough to realize importance of Test Cricket but not their Board.

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Thx to Saad Shafqat for writing this wonderful article.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | April 14, 2012, 4:23 GMT

    Saad, I have to disagree with your views. I do not believe that there will ever be a strong rivalry between B'desh and Pakistan for several reasons. Firstly, B'desh and Pakistan fans support each others teams, secondly, B;desh is an ordinary team and it is premature to start talking of a rivalary based on Asia cup. Pakistan and India contests carry a different meaning as Pakistan has upper hand in last 60 odd years against India in test matches as well as ODI's( Yes, I know India has won few times in world cup but its meaniningless in overall context). Pakistan and B'desh at the most will have a rivalry akin to New Zealand and Australia or Sri Lanka and Pakistan where fans support are generally suportive of each others's teams. On other hand, I do see that B'desh and India can become rivals because India is also another orindary team( especially their bowling and fielding is weaker than B;desh). Pakistan was the most successful team last year so they are eyeing SA and Australia!

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  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | April 14, 2012, 4:23 GMT

    Saad, I have to disagree with your views. I do not believe that there will ever be a strong rivalry between B'desh and Pakistan for several reasons. Firstly, B'desh and Pakistan fans support each others teams, secondly, B;desh is an ordinary team and it is premature to start talking of a rivalary based on Asia cup. Pakistan and India contests carry a different meaning as Pakistan has upper hand in last 60 odd years against India in test matches as well as ODI's( Yes, I know India has won few times in world cup but its meaniningless in overall context). Pakistan and B'desh at the most will have a rivalry akin to New Zealand and Australia or Sri Lanka and Pakistan where fans support are generally suportive of each others's teams. On other hand, I do see that B'desh and India can become rivals because India is also another orindary team( especially their bowling and fielding is weaker than B;desh). Pakistan was the most successful team last year so they are eyeing SA and Australia!

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    Thx to Saad Shafqat for writing this wonderful article.

  • POSTED BY M_Rakibul_Islam on | April 14, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    A well-written article 4m Saad Shafqat. But he probably doesn't know sitting in Karachi that BCB don't have any time to take care of 1st class tournaments. Bangladesh will no doubt rise in ODI & T-20I but Test cricket. BD-PK rivalry in cricket in ODIs or T-20 will b tasty one due to Historic reason but no contest will b in Test Cricket. Perhaps BD will produce Wasim Akram , Sangakara or Sehwag of ODI ,but not of Test. BCB must change its mentality towards Longer Formats otherwise BD's rise will b a fluke. BD cricketers r intelligent enough to realize importance of Test Cricket but not their Board.

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 5:56 GMT

    Not a very gripping one, but not a bad effort! Bangladesh is always like a young brother, and will remain so----nothing like India ;)

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    Forget Wasim Akram, Sangakkara and Sehwag, if Bangladesh can produce a couple more Shakib Al Hasans, they will be well served for the near future.

  • POSTED BY cupidiki on | April 14, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    KiwiRocker;; I agree with you. There is no match between Pak & Bangladesh Cricket Team at the moment. And there is also no match if we talk about the rivalry between Pak & India.

  • POSTED BY arif29 on | April 14, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    I appreciate your sentiment, Mr. Shafqat.

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 7:40 GMT

    KiwiRocker > Who knows... maybe Bangladesh and New Zealand will develop a rivalry with time given New Zealand is another "ordinary" team? ;)

  • POSTED BY pradeep_dealwis on | April 14, 2012, 8:03 GMT

    Interesting to see how Afghanistan develops as well!

  • POSTED BY on | April 14, 2012, 8:12 GMT

    Even all the cricketing world combined cannot and will not produce another Wasim AKram...........Just shows the thought process of the writer