The last few weeks were all about cricket, which sparked enthusiasm among sports-loving countries worldwide. The cricket fever had undoubtedly cut through the minds of people. On November 19th, Australia played the final match of the World Cup and won the trophy against India. Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, some fans celebrated the Aussie's win with sheer excitement because of the ongoing cricket rivalry between the two neighboring states.
The game of cricket has given rise to several intense rivalries over the years. Among them, the clashes between India and Bangladesh promise to be yet another chapter in this gripping rivalry. Forget India vs. Pakistan or even Bangladesh vs. Sri Lanka; Bangladesh vs India has produced more flashpoints than them all since the last decade. Undoubtedly, it has become the hottest Asian rivalry, cutting across age groups and gender. What was once a one-sided affair has evolved into a fierce competition that cricket enthusiasts eagerly await.
The India-Bangladesh rivalry in ODI World Cups may be relatively young compared to other cricketing rivalries, but it has already produced some unforgettable moments and matches. The fierce competition, the passionate fan base, and the ever-present tension make these encounters a must-watch for cricket enthusiasts. However, the rivalry between the cricket fans of Bangladesh and India did not develop overnight; there are clear instances in history that we can point to that made things this way.
Let's start with 2007 when Bangladesh beat India in the first match of the World Cup and essentially knocked out the team that best encapsulated that golden generation of Indian cricket. After that, Bangladesh beat India in a close Asia Cup game in 2012, but the most significant moment in this story occurred in 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. In front of a massive crowd of Indian expatriates, Rohit Sharma, who would score 137, pulled a full toss straight to deep midwicket but survived as the umpires called a no-ball on height. Replays suggested that was not so. Bangladesh fans protested, meaning there was a conspiracy against them.
Right after the World Cup, during a series win at home against the mighty Indians, everything was going the way of Bangladesh. Mustafizur Rahman had all the batsmen looking bewildered, but an incident occurred when the imposing figure of MS Dhoni strongly bumped into Mustafizur and hurt him, and this was enough to rile fans up once again.
Following these, the next generation joined the rivalry in 2020. India and Bangladesh met in the Under-19 World Cup final, and when Bangladesh won, their fired-up players stormed the field and celebrated in the faces of the Indians, sparking ugly scenes. Bangladesh captain Akbar Ali apologized to his team, while India captain Priyam Garg called the reaction "dirty."
The next clash between India and Bangladesh happened in 2022. Rain interrupted the sides' game at the T20 World Cup in Adelaide. While Rohit was keen to restart play, Bangladesh captain Shakib was seen arguing with the umpires, seemingly insisting conditions were too wet. When the players got back on the field, Litton Das slipped while turning and was run out. During India's innings of the same game, Kohli faked a throw, which the Bangladesh players later pointed out was against the rules and should have led to five penalty runs. India ended up winning by precisely five runs via DLS.
In 2023, after the deciding ODI of India women's tour of Bangladesh ended in a tie, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur had an outburst, calling the umpiring during the series "pathetic." During the trophy presentation, she sarcastically invited the Bangladeshi umpires to join in, insinuating they were the reason the trophy was being shared. Bangladesh captain Nigar Sultana, in turn, slammed Harmanpreet for showing "bad manners." It is hoped that both teams will learn from these incidents and prioritize unity, professionalism, and teamwork to rise from the ashes of this World Cup debacle and chart a path toward future success.
Starting from mainstream media advertisements around various tournaments to social media memes have added fuel to this fire multiple times. When it comes to facing India, Bangladeshi fans become highly sensitive, wary of not being taken seriously, and easily offended at any hint of a slight. Both sides continued to post various posts on social media.Many content creators are also spreading rumors.
The latest controversy started with a Facebook post by a hotel called 'Rayoporas Taksang' in Darjeeling. The hotel in the rock town of Darjeeling has decided to no longer allow Bangladeshi tourists to stay in their hotel following the social media trolling from Bangladesh over India's loss in the World Cup final. Although weeks have passed after the World Cup final, the excitement of a section of Bangladesh about the results of that game has not stopped on social media; on the contrary, a section of Indian Bengalis are also reacting angrily.
A section of Indian Bengalis is being called to boycott Bangladesh in various ways through social media. Some are talking about not giving visas to Bangladeshis; some say that Bangladeshi publishers should not be allowed stalls at the Kolkata Book Fair. In some people's posts, it is seen that the products of Bangladeshi companies that are available in India should be stopped.
During the India vs Bangladesh 2023 World Cup match, Indian fans were captured on video, tearing apart Shoaib Ali's cherished tiger mascot. The distressing footage of this incident has been circulating on social media, sparking outrage and condemnation from cricket fans worldwide. Tiger Shoaib's dedication to supporting his team embodies the passion and enthusiasm that cricket inspires. Superfans like him add color and character to the sport, creating an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation that transcends national boundaries. Such fans, regardless of their allegiance, are a testament to the unifying power of cricket and should be celebrated for their contribution to the game.
The cricketing community is known for its camaraderie and respect for fans from all corners of the world, and it is disheartening to witness such actions tarnishing the sport's reputation.It has raised concerns about maintaining a respectful and welcoming environment at sporting events. In response to the incident, many cricket fans have expressed their disappointment and called for an investigation to identify the individuals responsible for this unsportsmanlike behavior.
Cricket authorities, fans, and well-wishers of the game should collectively condemn such behavior and promote an inclusive and friendly atmosphere in stadiums. Cricket is not just a contest between teams; it is a celebration of the spirit of the game, where fans come together to appreciate the skills and efforts of the players. While cricket rivalries can be intense, fans must remember the values of respect, camaraderie, and fair play at the heart of the game. No matter what happens inside the field, it must not cross the boundaries and affect other collaborations both countries are trying to build.
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka.
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