“We lost the match because we didn’t take it seriously. We came to Hyderabad only to eat Biryani,” read one of the rather polite tweets mocking centurion Mushfiqur Rahim after India’s convincing 208-run victory in the one-off Test against Bangladesh, on Monday. It was symbolic of the banter that the fans from both sides have come to pelt at each other ever since the feud between neighbouring countries has intensified.
We carefully avoid using the term rivalry because the India-Bangladesh tussle still seems in its embryonic stage. It’s a far cry from the likes of the Ashes, the India-Pakistan or even the Trans-Tasmanian contests. Yes, the two countries have an extensive geo-political history; yes, the fans are euphoric in India and fanatical in Bangladesh; yet many a win for the Men in Green still qualify as upsets. But pick up any Ind v Ban comment thread on social media and a series of mud-slinging remarks would narrate a different story.
This has given birth to a mêlée that can best be summed up as a Wi-Fi rivalry. Social media has added more flavour to this match-up that is yet to create a spicy long-term narrative on the field. While the advent of internet had not taken over our lives as much back in 2007 – when Bangladesh sent India packing out of the World Cup in the Caribbean, one can point out many instances from the recent past that have catalysed this phenomenon. The 2015 World Cup had its share of distasteful social media backlashes including the one sparked by popular Indian cricketers using a TV promo to ridicule the Bangladeshis and the much spoken-about Rohit Sharma no-ball incident being alleged as ‘pre-arranged’ by Bangladeshi board members.
A few months later, Bangladesh’s first series win over India in a bilateral tournament was followed by another crass image of the Men in Blue with half-shaved heads and Mustafizur Rehman endorsing a cutter, in a local daily. It supplied more fodder for the internet to feed on, as expected; let alone the image of MS Dhoni’s severed head being carried by Taskin Ahmed previously. Even Bangladesh’s comedy of errors against India that saw their exit from the 2016 T20 World Cup became a subject of various memes and videos.
Speaking of which, the actions of some players have not failed to add fuel to this raging fire either. Bangladesh Test skipper found himself in the eye of the storm as he took to his social media to celebrate India’s semi-final loss to West Indies days after their laughable defeat. And despite Bangladesh’s resilience in the recently concluded Test match, there is little to suggest that this online battle will be translated into something worthwhile on the field too.
Their struggles in the longest format of the game can largely be attributed to the playing time (or the lack of it thereof) donning whites and a frail first-class cricket structure. But in the record books, Bangladesh have failed to register a win in any of the nine Test matches against India so far, with their ‘best’ margins of defeats being 113 runs and nine wickets.
Though they also did well to play out a hundred overs each in both the innings of the Hyderabad Test against Virat Kohli’s men, what summed things up was Ishant Sharma’s send off to Sabbir Rahman following prolonged eye contact between the duo during the pacer’s previous over. There might even be a Twitter battle going on between two sets of fans over this incident, but unfortunately, for the on-field India-Bangladesh rivalry, there wasn’t enough silage. Again.
Images: BCCI, Pinterest