The last few weeks has been a great advertisement for Test cricket with two excellent cricket series going on, whose excellence is even more brought into focus by the wholly needless, inconsequential tri-angular one day international snoozefest in Dhaka between India, Sri Lanka (against whom we have got stuck into an infinite loop of matches) and Bangladesh—–a sequence of matches whose only significance is that it allows BCCI to buy the Bangladeshi vote in the ICC by getting them some money.
Personally of course, I thoroughly enjoy myself anytime India plays Bangladesh. Not so much because of the cricket on offer but of the sheer partisanship of Bangladeshi fans, whose endearing jingoism I experience first-hand on Bangladeshi bulletin boards. First of all Bangladeshi fans have a Ghajini-Memento-type problem whereas while they have excellent long-term memory (Before any match against India, there will be a series of posts about how Bangladesh will beat the pants off India like they did in World Cup 2007), their short-term memory (of repeated embarassingly heavy defeats) is remarkably bad. Second, they are perhaps the most optimistic people I have ever seen—–at least in one case (The T20 World Cup) there was a ‘victory thread’ on the bulletin board even before the match started; so confident were they of their awesomeness. Thirdly their power of analysis is formidable —I remember having read in a number of posts that KKR would have won IPL-2 if only they had used their most precious weapon, Mash, instead of having let him warm the bench. (As far as I recall, Mashrafe played one match in IPL 2 and was royally carted all over the park). Finally, right after they lose(which is not a rare occurrence), a trawl through their posts is as intellectually invigorating as a read-through of a Rediff comment thread with India once again getting the blame for Bangladesh’s defeat , because evidently the BCCI (which wants world domination through money power) does not want to encourage Bangladesh as they are afraid of India’s position in the cricket world.
The only thing I enjoy more than the fervor of Bangladeshi fans is the fervor of Bangladeshi megaheroes like Dipjol whose song (Video Link: Not Safe For Sanity) “Poonth koira dimu ami poonth koira dimu” [ Translated to: I will eject gas so bad you will be reduced to ashes] and of Bangladeshi Na’vi Avatar singer [Video link] are always to be found on my play-list when Rubel comes running into bowl.
Coming back to cricket and Bangladeshi fans, here is a picture from a Bangladeshi newspaper. Even though they were comprehensively defeated, the press there seeks to accentuate the positives by a caption that translates to: “After being defeated by Tamim in the battle between bat and ball, Zaheer Khan’s reaction”. It takes a special kind of chutzpah, which I positively adore, to take this “Bangladesh owned India” line even when comprehensively beaten.
Zaheer Khan of course does deserve to be beaten in the battle between bat and ball. This is not just because he looks like a Parsee Aunty out on a kitty party with the amount of weight he has gained and because of his inability to get down before the ball slips through his legs, but because his aggressiveness is sometimes too close to the Sreesanth buffoonery we all so detest. It is ok to do the odd glaring and the foul comeback when you have the upper hand on the batsman but to do so when under the cosh makes you look totaly silly. Like doing the verbals on Gilchrist in the first over of the 2003 finals after bowling wides and being taken apart.
On the subject of overweight Indian players, its shocking nowadays to see the once-lighting-fast Yuvraj becoming the Patiala-Peg uncle with the paunch and the slow gait.
While he is still a very good batsman, the decline in his fielding skills has been depressingly steep. As has been of the Indian team’s which is now many notches below the standard of the 2002–2003 team—a team that had Ganguly, Laxman, Dravid and Sachin—with Harbhajan, once a fast mover and a safe catcher, now becoming an embarrassment on the field with his catching.
Again while we are on ‘catching’ one cannot but not raise a hat to Kamran Akmal (who somehow reminds me of I S Johar) dropping everything that came his way, then refusing to drop himself and then finally being “rested”, kicking and screaming, by the team management. What of course I found so heartening was the brotherly love that Umar Akmal sought to show for his brother, threatening to leverage his necessity for the team by faking injury and trying to withdraw from the XI if only to keep elder brother from being dropped, the kind of “Yahaan main ghar ghar kheli” type of bhai-bhai-ness I thought never existed outside Zee serials. Brought a tear to my eye. Ram Lakhan ki jodi yaad aayi.
Reminding me once again why Test cricket is so thrilling and why Pakistan totally rocks.
Sorry Bangladeshi fans you have some way still to go to match this entertainment level.
[Blogging shall remain sporadic for the next few weeks as final edits are made to book. Today after watching India lose yet another final had the urge to pen down everything that was going through my mind. Hence the post.]