Updated: February 11, 2020 9:11:37 am
Bangladesh has been a cricket-crazy nation for at least three decades now. Visual evidence would come in any road journey from Dhaka to Chittagong, where kids take over any open ground. Cricket in India has largely moved to academies and clubs, and barring a few traditional maidaans, you don’t see as many young people involved in unstructured cricket in the gullies. However, Bangladesh’s national team has struggled to match the fans’ ambition for a triumph in a major ICC tournament. So much so that, ahead of their last encounter against India in the 50-over world cup, their captain Mashrafe Mortaza played down their chances, just to ensure the fans don’t get too disappointed and angry later.
It’s befitting then that the special moment for Bangladesh cricket has come in an Under-19 world cup. It suggests that the national addiction has caught on and a new generation has emerged which was fearless on the big day. Nerves was one of the reasons that held the seniors back — like in the 2016 T20 world cup semi-final when they contrived to lose from a winning position against India. Defeating India in a final has been the icing on the cake. Many in Bangladesh feel the Indian cricketing ecosystem has been condescending to them in the past.
The win suggests that the cricketing journey has been organic. Akram Khan, a former captain, said,“We were never mentally tough, we were in awe of India and Pakistan.” Khan was instrumental in the 1997 triumph in the ICC Trophy that triggered Test and ODI status to Bangladesh. Two years later, they defeated Pakistan in a World Cup game and in 2007, repeated the dose to India. But the ICC cupboard remained bare. Until now.