It was more than three hours to go before the start of the second One-day International between Bangladesh and India, but there was already a festive atmosphere at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium. People had turned up not only from Dhaka but from neighbouring districts and far flung areas as well. Braving heat, hunger and thirst – it was the third day of Ramadan and the longest day of the summer — they had gathered here to witness the team make history.
The hawkers carrying Team Bangladesh merchandise were doing brisk business. “Shabash Bangladesh, shabash Bangladesh,” they would say, pushing the green-and-red hats in your face. “Shabash” here being used more as “come on” or “vamos” rather than “well done”, which it actually means.
Unless, of course, the hawkers had foreseen that Bangladesh would actually go on to do exceedingly well later in the day and thrash India for the second time in the series.
Not everyone was fully confident of it, though, despite the fact that Bangladesh had ‘Banglawashed’ Pakistan here two months ago. That was a young Pakistan team, under a new captain. India was a different proposition. It was a full-strength team, and one that was licking its wounds after the defeat in the first ODI. Its players were grudgingly acknowledging that defeat, but they weren’t ready to concede that they were inferior to the opposition they had lost to.
“This loss is a bit shocking for us and it is hurting a lot. Yes, they played better than us today but we are still a better team. Their cricket is improving day by day but we are on a different level,” Suresh Raina had told bcci.tv after the first match.
In their minds, they were still the big silverback of the subcontinent. And so, with both the series and the pride on the line, India were expected to hit back with vengeance.
Which is why the local fans were optimistic, but cautious at the same time. Unlike the last match, there were no derisive “mauka, mauka” chants directed at the Indian team when they were practicing ahead of the match. You don’t want to wake up a sleeping giant. The fans must have been hoping that Bangladesh win the toss again and bat.
To put pressure on India who have begun to look shaky of late while chasing.
Dhoni won the toss, instead, and opted to bat. The changes that he revealed were made in the team, suggested that India were rattled. And might have actually taken a misstep by not playing Ajinkya Rahane.
Still Dhoni said since Bangladesh were on the cusp of a momentous win, they would be under more pressure. He perhaps hoped their talented but relatively inexperienced bowlers would crumble under it. Instead, it was the Indian batting who wilted.
The Bangladeshi fan found the full volume of their voice as the two-time double centurion Rohit Sharma fell at an individual and team score of zero. Those who were waiting in the queues outside must have heard a deafening roar.
They began to believe in their team all over again.
The two-match-old Mustafizur Rahman was the hero again with a six-for as the Indian team folded up for 200 in 45 overs.
The match half-lost, India needed an early breakthrough to stay in the game. Dhawal Kulkarni looked to have done precise the same in the second over, but Tamim Iqbal’s diving catch that Virat Kohli has taken at mid off was adjudged not clean by the TV umpire. Kulkarni doesn’t look the sledging type, but he walked up to Tamim and gave him an earful. The decision had clearly deflated the visiting side.
Kulkarni finally had him man in the seventh over when Tamim edged a slower on to slip. By then he and Sarkar had shaved 34 runs off the target.
They needed to put their heads down and keep chipping away gently. Newcomer Litton Das, however, wasn’t in a mood to loiter around for long. He played a brisk knock and added fifty runs for the second wicket with the more watchful Soumya Sarkar. Ravichandran Ashwin snapped both in quick succession to raise hopes. But first Mushfiqur Rahim and then the reliable Shakib Al Hasan ensured that there weren’t too many hiccups, despite having the Indians often in their face and ears.
Rain plays a part
There was some confusion when Sabbir Rahman brought the 200 with a single. The two batsmen weren’t sure if they had reached the target or just equalled India’s score. However, according to the DL method, the revised target was 200. Dhoni ended the confusion when he walked up to Shakib and Sabbir and shook their hands. It wasn’t just the score that was equal. Bangladesh and India were now equals in the larger scheme of things.
In the process, Mashrafe Mortaza and his men had also qualified for the Champions Trophy. Celebrations followed and the home team huddled and danced. Later, as the stage was being set for the post-match presentation, Dhoni stood there with the Bangladeshi team around him. He was chatting up with the rival players.
Mustafizur Rahman, whom he had pushed away the other day, was also around. So was Mushfiqur Rahim, who has give Dhoni an ugly send-off the other day. A mutual rivalry was born, but animosity seemed to have melted away.