My earliest cricket memory involving Bangladesh is a fine spell of pace bowling by Chaminda Vaas on Valentines Day in 2003 , in the first over of the game. The first batsman was out bowled , the second was caught and bowled and the third clueless fellow holed out to a future Sri Lankan cricket captain and followed the other two. It was and remains my favorite bowling spell from that tournament after Nehra’s 6/23 but a lot of people didn’t see it that way.
Every-time I brought up that particular Chaminda Vaas over , someone in the gathering would invariably end up saying “But that’s against Bangladesh yaar. What is so brilliant about a hattrick in the first three balls against Bangladesh !”. A few of them would nod politely , putting down my admiration for that spell as an eccentricity.
Such was the plight of Bangladesh in 2003 , that they couldn’t win a single match in the TVS cup that was hosted in their country. They didn’t win a single match that world cup , losing their opening game to Canada < a low even for Bangladesh> , before facing Sri Lanka and Chaminda Vaas in that opening over.
Bangladesh continued to be a part of my cricketing memories after 2003 , as a minor actor playing a minuscule role in the larger scheme of things : Gautam Gambhir made his ODI debut against them . So did Aavishkar Salvi who bowled a brilliant first over , took a wicket , promptly got injured and soon faded into obscurity. Ishant Sharma debuted against Bangladesh , so did Ramesh Powar , Joginder Sharma and this future Indian Captain and finisher extraordinaire by the name MS Dhoni.
In the mid 00s , a fixture against Bangladesh was seen as an ideal opportunity to hand out debuts to the youngsters knocking on the team door in an attempt to build their confidence. India often won these fixtures quite convincingly . Bangladesh won rarely if at all . There was that win in 2004 , followed by that world cup upset in 2007 and that Asia cup in 2012.They went on an emotional overdrive post their 2015 loss to India. Rohit Sharma was adjudged not out and Bangladesh as a whole cried foul. They won an ODI series soon after and that nascent switch was turned on. The Bangladesh of 2015 was way better than the Bangladesh of 2003 , 2007 and 2012 , but was so short of confidence that a third umpire’s decision caused huge outrage and an ODI series win resulted in celebrations of a rather unsavory nature.
Today , Bangladesh lost because of a splendid Rohit Sharma knock and some brilliant bowling by Bumrah at death. The bowling figures of Bumrah read 10-1-55-4 and he ended with a brilliant last over , taking two wickets in the last two balls , stranded on a hattrick.
The 48th over was and will remain one of my favorites from this world cup tournament and my preference for this spell will not be put down as an eccentricity , because Machi , Bangladesh could have won it ra but Bumrah came back after that injury scare , and bowled that peach of an over to keep Bangladesh out of reckoning . India beat Bangladesh in yet another world cup match , only this time , Bangladesh was not some 2 bit minor actor playing a side role in a tournament heavily favoring the big three. They came , they fought and they conquered hearts.
The Bangladesh of 2019 is a far better side than the Bangladesh of 2015 . They have won the games that mattered and came pretty close to winning a few others. They are no longer intimidated by huge targets. They have Shakib, Soumya and Litton in their ranks and a quiet confidence in their hearts.
Bangladesh were a champion side this world cup. They beat South Africa and West Indies convincingly and came very close to beating New Zealand and India. Bangladesh knows how to win and has started winning frequently. This is a side that takes its defeats and rain-outs in stride without resorting to national outrage. This is a side on the cusp of bigger and better things to come.
Long live the rivalry.