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More than just a victory

  • Published at 08:55 pm November 4th, 2019
Bangladesh's Mahmudullah plays a shot during their first T20I against India in New Delhi Sunday AFP

Considering the adversity faced and the upheaval in Bangladesh cricket, the win will no doubt go down as one of the team’s finest moments

On Sunday, Bangladesh registered their first ever T20I victory over India. 

After eight failed attempts, including a number of tight encounters in recent years, the match will rightfully go into the history books of Bangladesh cricket.

The result is more than just a victory for the Tigers. 

In addition to redemption for past failures, it offers catharsis at a time when Bangladesh cricket has been going through turmoil.

The tour of India, including three T20Is and two Test matches, was uncertain just weeks ago, with the Bangladesh players calling a strike on October 21. 

The players had said they would not take part in any cricket activities until their 11-point demand was met.

The demands included calls to revert the Bangladesh Premier League to the previous model, Tk1 lakh in match fees for first-class matches, and the provision of practice facilities all year around.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board accepted the demands two days after they were placed, and preparations for the India tour resumed.

However, the worst was yet to come. 

Soon after the protests ended and just as Bangladesh cricket appeared to be returning to normalcy, media reports that Bangladesh T20I and Test captain Shakib al Hasan would be banned by the International Cricket Council began to surface. 

The fears were proven true on October 29, when the ICC officially declared that the Bangladesh skipper has been banned for two years, including one year of that suspended, for failing to report three corrupt approaches from a listed bookie.

It was a heavy blow for Bangladesh cricket, as Shakib has long been a crucial lynchpin of the national side in all three formats (T20Is, ODIs, and Tests). 

In 2015, he became the only cricketer in history to be ranked as the No 1 all-rounder by the ICC in all three formats simultaneously, and he is currently ranked No 1 in ODIs, as well as No 2 in Tests and T20Is. 

No other player has contributed as much with both bat and ball since legendary South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis retired.  

Already having lost Shakib, Bangladesh suffered another blow ahead of the India tour when star opener Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh’s highest run-scorer in T20Is, pulled out of the series. 

Tamim took leave in order to stay alongside his wife for the birth of their second child.

Now without two world-class players, one of whom is nigh on irreplaceable, the Bangladesh team faced yet another obstacle when arriving in New Delhi for the tour on Wednesday: Levels of air pollution that are catastrophic even by Dhaka’s standards.

The Bangladesh players initially suffered from eye and throat irritation during training sessions, due to the dense and toxic smog, and media reports in both India and Bangladesh questioned why a cricket match would be scheduled in the Delhi region at this time of year. 

The smog in the city always gets worse around this time, as farmers burn leftover crops.

However, the match proceeded as planned, and the Bangladesh players certainly seem to have adjusted well as they claimed a memorable victory. 

Considering the adversity faced and the upheaval in Bangladesh cricket, the win will no doubt go down as one of the team’s finest moments.