Saturday, June 18, 2005

Who'da thunk it?

How the mighty have fallen. Who would have thought, John, Pinky and Shobhan Mehta aside, that Bangladesh would comprehensively humble the Australian juggernaut yesterday?

I do them a disservice actually. When they beat Pakistan in the World Cup, 6 years ago, it was chalked down to match-fixing. When they then defeated India's finest, Joginder Sharma included, in December, the whispers arose again. Every time their Test status is questioned, it was said, their friendly neighbours would throw them a bone. Or a match.

So what say the nay-sayers now? Did Ricky Ponting and his men accept a few bob for this one too? Is that why Andrew Symonds was mysteriously left out of the team? I suppose I should be careful about this. Seven years ago when I wrote, in jest, about potential circumstantial evidence of match-fixing, a local newspaper in Dhaka picked up on my words of wisdom, and ran a back-page story suggesting that I had uncovered a great scandal. If anyone's thinking of running with this one - I'm JOKING.

In any case, it is absolutely fantastic for me to see the guys from Bangladesh perform like this. And that's not even just because we can now point out that Hong Kong performed better than Australia against them, restricting them to 221 in the 2004 Asia Cup.

Ten years ago, I remember playing against them in a U-19 tournament, in which they defeated a star-studded Sri Lankan side, containing the likes of Kumara Sangakkara and Dilhara Fernando, in the final. For all the Sri Lankan talent, the Bangladeshis were far and away the best side in the tournament. The ease with which Javed Omar and Khaled Mashud (the only two still surviving in the Bangladesh side from that tournament) picked off our bowling made it clear that they were destined for far greater things than we were. Not that we were worth anything, of course.

They were a superb bunch of blokes as well - we shared a coach (bus) with them, and they kept us all entertained. Their left arm medium pacer, Morshed Ali Khan was particularly good with the karaoke, and he also dismissed Saurav Ganguly on his ODI debut, so he could bowl a bit too.

I hope nobody gets carried away with this one result against an Australian team that clearly hasn't quite found it's feet on tour. There is a lot of work to be done yet, but what it has shown, is that there is raw talent worth something in Bangladesh. It has to be harnessed, and it will take time - but the worst thing we could do is to give up on them now.

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