Login Dark

Pakistan vs Bangladesh in Kolkata: Political, historical, culturally-layered drama awaits - The Indian Express

Author: layered drama awaits

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket-world-cup/pakistan-vs-bangladesh-in-kolkata-political-historical-culturally-layered-drama-awaits-9006286/

Image of Pakistan vs Bangladesh in Kolkata: Political, historical, culturally-layered drama awaits - The Indian Express

Pakistan cricket team captin Babar Azam obliges for a selfie during a practice session ahead of the Pakistan vs Bangladesh Cricket World Cup match at Kolkata's Eden Gardens.Express photo by Partha Paul.Listen to this articlePakistan vs Bangladesh in Kolkata: Political, historical, culturally-layered drama awaitsxRoughly four kilometres from Eden Gardens, near the Sealdah Railway Station, is the Father of the Nation Statue.Backdropped by the flags of their respective nations are the busts of Mahatma Gandhi and Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his Bangladesh counterpart, side by side.There are several other memorabilia of Rahman too in the city, where he spent considerable years of his youth.A biopic of his, directed by Shyam Benegal was screened in the city, where its lead actor Arifin Shuvoo, said: “People of Bengal will emotionally connect more with this film than their counterparts in Bangladesh.” There are still resplendent social, linguistic, cultural and political affinities between Kolkata, West Bengal and Bangladesh. The national anthem of both countries was penned by Rabindranath Tagore, who spent much of his lifetime in Shilaidaha, a town in Bangladesh, where a three-day celebration is held on Tagore’s birth anniversary.The city was the capital in exile forthe first Bangladesh government, and at 8 Theatre Road, there is aMujibnagar Memorial Monument and Complex in remembrance of the signing of the Pakistani Instrument of Surrender.Kazi Nazrul Islam, Bangladesh’s national poet, is still a revered literary figure in the city.Follow all the action from the Cricket World Cup 2023 on our special World Cup section.You can also find the latest stats, like the top scorer and the highest wicket-taker of the current edition, upcoming World Cup fixtures and the points table on the site.Nothing perhaps connects the city and the neighbouring country as the cuisine.The tangy aroma of Bangladeshi delicacies hit you when you stroll along theNew Market Area. The menu smacks of Bangladeshi identity and bears the names of cities across the border, such as Sylheti Shorshe Ilish (Sylhet Mustard Hilsa), and Chattogrami Chingri (Chattogram Prawn).Almost every restaurant is packed, now that thousands of fans from Bangladesh have descended in the city for its World Cup games, against the Netherlands, which they lost, and the other against Pakistan, scheduled for Tuesday.It’s a complex and fascinating coming together—Bangladesh to duel the country it ceded independence from on the soil of another country it once was part of, and one which is so like them.At the press conference, Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan was reminded of the past.“This is the land for your freedom fighter. What is your vision?” he was asked.He sidestepped the political implications, but history would be peering at him from every corner.All of these layers make the contest between the two engrossing.Bangladesh have endured their most torrid campaign in recent times, winning just one of their six games and effectively out of the World Cup knockouts.Their party-spoiling days seem long, as there is both a paucity of talent as well as planning and organization. Their passionate fans are utterly devastated.“Simple waste of money, We should not have come here to watch them.They don’t deserve to be cheered,” says Tanzid Ahmed, fuming.So incensed the fans were after the Netherlands capitulation that one was spotted slapping the face with his shoes.Most of them did not even wait for the match to end. But there could be a redeeming factor yet for them this World Cup.That is if they could beat Pakistan, who Tanzid considers as the bitterest of their rivals.“I know we have rivalries with both India and Sri Lanka.But nothing would beat that of Pakistan.We will go home happy if we beat Pakistan,” he says. Unlike the other Southeast Asian cricket-bloc rivalries, there have not been too many moments of scandals, though there have always been a nervous intensity, whenever they have clashed.Even more so in the World Cup, where both teams have won a game apiece.Bangladesh did so famously in 1999.After the victory, captain Aminul Islam would say: “This is the match that would change the history of Bangladesh cricket.” A few months on, they became a Test nation, with the considerable backing of the then ICC president Jagmohan Dalmiya.But 24 years on, they still remain as the minnows of the Test world. “We are toothless tigers,” says Rahim Imam, another fan who had come to watch the Kolkata leg.The tiger metaphor is apt for their opponents, Pakistan too.The once famous“cornered” tigers are now “tigers in the abyss”.Their semifinal hopes hinge on the thinnest of threads, which requires them to win their three remaining games by landslide margins and hope that their stars align in the most freakish manner.A defeat to Bangladesh would not only end their road this World Cup, but also would be another indelible scar on the souls.Both India and Afghanistan have already inflicted psychological blows. Failing to beat Bangladesh would be the knockout blow that would set heads rolling in the team.The backlash of the defeats have been brutal back home.Unlike Bangladesh who could salvage their campaign with a victory over Pakistan, they would be disconsolate if they don’t qualify for the semifinals.Inzamam-ul-Haq, the chief selector has reportedly resigned from his role over allegations that he was also a shareholder in a prominent player management company.That role had led to conflict of interest allegations.There was pessimism in the voice of coach Grant Bradburn.“We’re in a position that we didn’t want to be. We were determined at this stage of the tournament to be in control of our destiny but we’re not,” he said.All his team could do at this stage, he said, sighing, is to “prepare well for three remaining pool games and then allow fate to be hopefully leaning on us.” He was again quizzed on the lasting effect of the Ahmedabad thrashing and the hostile crowd.He would patiently reply: “It was a huge experience for all of our players having never played at that venue before and the unusual experience of playing in front of a 1,30,000 supporters of the opposition.” With just a handful of Pakistan supporters managing visas, while thousands have flocked the city from Bangladesh, the support for Bangladesh would be deafening.However, the Kolkata crowd has strange behavioural patterns.They sparked a riot during the India-Pakistan Test, part of the Asian Championship in 1999. But when Bangladesh encountered Pakistan in the T20 World Cup in 2016, they vociferously supported the latter.How they would behave on Tuesday is still a mystery.But irresistible would be the layers of history and culture when Eden Gardens hosts a game between Bangladesh andPakistan.

Subscribe To Our NewsLetter