Every cricketing nation has a turning point. How would Indian cricket had been different had we lost against the mighty West Indies in the 1983 ODI World Cup final? One really can’t imagine. It might have been a bleak alternate reality.
Similarly such a turning point came in Bangladeshi cricket too. In the 2012 Asia Cup, Bangladesh stunned India when it chased a formidable target of 290 in the final over in a league match. While the Bangla tigers had been doing such upsets from time to time, they usually lacked consistency.
So when Bangladesh won with Sri Lanka in their very next match, it was a really historic win. The Bangla tigers had done the unthinkable. It had edged two former world champions (India and Sri Lanka) to make it to the tournament final.
In that final, Bangladesh restricted Pakistan to just 236 thanks to some very tight bowling. They were favourites in the chase and lost by just two runs in the end. Their inexperience showed and one can only wonder what would have happened to Bangladeshi cricket had they won that one.
It was yet another case of so near and so far. They always showed flashes of brilliance without consistency.
However all that appears to have changed and 2015 might well be their year. It is turning out to be one of their very best years ever.
Bangladesh began the 2015 with a bang and thumped Zimbabwe 5-0 in ODIs and it was excellent preparation for the World Cup. The Bangla tigers stunned England to knock them out of the quarter finals in a “Lagaan” type of moment.
In the quarter finals with India they began well bogging down the Indian batsmen, but India fought back and took the match against them. A few dodgy umpiring decisions left the Bangla fans with a lot of ifs and buts.
Then we had another fine performance when they whitewashed Pakistan 3-0. The thing about that ODI series was that Bangladesh won all those matches quite comfortably. Tamim Iqbal and Mushifiqur Rahman made the most runs while Arafat Sunny and Shakib Al Hasan took the most wickets as none of the Pakistani players seemed to be in the reckoning.
They also won the one-off international T20 quite comfortably chasing Pakistan’s target of 142 in 16.2 overs. Shakib Al Hasan scored an unbeaten half-century and is developing into a fine player.
Now the Bangladeshis are on a roll and they have won an ODI series against India thrashing them in two back to back matches. If they won by 79 runs in the first match, then they won by 6 wickets and a good 54 balls remaining in the second match.
The Bangla tigers have taken revenge for their World Cup quarter final loss. This is also their third straight ODI bilateral series win.
Mustafizur Rahman has made a dream debut. In his very first match he picked up 5 wickets and in the second match annihilated India with a 6-wicket haul. India has always been suspect against new bowlers and this was exposed big time in the series.
Bangladesh has started producing match-winners on a regular basis and this will be their key to performing well in the future.
How quickly things change! As we head to the third ODI at Dhaka, it is Bangladesh which is looking at a whitewash while India is playing for pride. Captain cool MS Dhoni is looking hassled and people have started calling for his head.
The on-field collision with a Bangladeshi bowler will do his reputation no good coming at a time when India is losing like this. He was fined for that offence too.
If Virat Kohli takes over as ODI captain, then it will be interesting days ahead. He has captained three Tests without a victory and failed to inspire his team Royal Challengers Bangalore to an IPL or Champions League title.
Of course he has a much better ODI record. Either way Indian cricket seems to be heading for a state of flux with the end of the Duncan Fletcher era while the Bangladeshi management will be desperate to carry on the momentum for the rest of the year.The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://www.sunilrajguru.com/