The Bangladeshi Tigers have been here before. They have tasted sweet victory of a clean sweep over a Test playing opposition in an ODI series more than once in the past. Clean sweeps against Zimbabwe and the West Indies were 'statistical' achievements. None of these victories were against a properly defined opposition in the lexicon of the cricketing fraternity. These series whitewashes had to die only to live another day to get formal acknowledgement from the cricketing fraternity.
On Sunday 17 October 2010 while devotees throughout Bangladesh were busy with Shubho Bijoya, another group of lucky devotees who could find a room in the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium were experiencing a Shubho Bijoy that has never been experienced before in the forty-year history of Bangladesh. The entire country was on the brink of experiencing what the celebrated commentator Athar Ali Khan coined during the last Caribbean tour- “Bangla Wash”. The wait to experience a Bangla Wash in an ODI series against a proper Test playing nation was worth its weight in gold.
Like fish angling, players and teams in cricket have to patiently wait for the right moment. If that right moment can be identified and acted upon, the individual player and the team enjoys a period of contagious success. If not, then that same set of individuals and the team plunges into a period of contagious defeat. Cricket, unlike other team sports, is more to do with the mind than mere flashing talent.
Winning the first ODI was expected from a team that is improving with the likes of world class Wisden players in Shakib Al Hasan (2009) and Tamim Iqbal (2010). With the second ODI washed out, winning the third ODI was a turning point in the series and Bangladesh cricket. For the first time, Bangladesh tasted successive ODI victories against a proper Test playing nation. The mind set of the entire team 'miraculously' changed. A clean sweep to make an officially recognised Bangla Wash slowly started to become a reality. The last two games are so fresh in the minds of all Bangladeshis and well-wishers of Bangladesh cricket that further description could become monotonously repetitive.
What was invigorating is that for the first time after a long time, the Tigers played as a cohesive unit with belief in themselves with a one for all and all for one spirit. The individual talent and individual performances have always been there, but to make winning contagious always required a team effort playing from the hearts. Shakib led from the front and the whole team chipped in when required. Through the Bangla Wash the Tigers have now experienced how contagious success can be if a team believes in themselves as a cohesive unit and plays with their hearts.
With Zimbabwe expected to tour in December and the World Cup in just four months time where Bangladesh will have a home advantage, this victory could not have come at a better time. However there is always scope for improvement. The Bangla Wash although welcome did not come where the Tigers made a convincing total of 270 plus in any one of the games. Except for Shakib, Kayes and Nafees, none of the batsmen made any significant contribution to challenge the opposition. The bowlers and the fielders bailed the team out. In the World Cup, the Tigers will be facing stronger oppositions where high targets will be needed to challenge the likes of the 'big boys'. Fielding lapses like those in the final ODI also need to be addressed.
For the moment, let the Tigers and Bangladesh enjoy the Bangla Wash to the brink, toitomboor. The team and those behind the team and the nation deserve to celebrate. Through the Bangla Wash the Tigers have shown what more can be possible if the team believes in itself. With the World Cup knocking, would it be too much now to ask to dream for a Bangla Cup? Why not? When the youth takes a nation forward, a nation can only carry on going forward. That is the greatest achievement of the Tigers- to show how full of potential the youth of Bangladesh are and can be.
Shabash Tigers on the Bangla Wash. Let the world be your stage and us be your audience. Go Tigers Go for a Bangla Cup!
(The writer teaches Economics at Jahangirnagar University and North South University.)