The only explanation, if any, after Bangladesh's Tuesday night 'heartbreak' defeat to Pakistan (and never forget Afghanistan) is to take the matter spiritually. Or else how could Pakistan, faced with their highest run-chase in ODI history, and all but assumed beaten by a partisan crowd at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium at half time, change the fate of the match in just a couple of overs?
It seemed a celestial force, responding to an invitation by Mushfiqur and company, systematically stole the match away from the hosts in Houdini style. If during the inter-innings interval, Pakistan could strategise their reply around a slow but steady and long innings (on this occasion courtesy of Ahmed Shehzad) and wait for a whirlwind innings (on this occasion courtesy of Shahid Afridi), one wonders what forces compelled our team management to depend only on a big total? We had a big score yes, but Pakistan were always ahead by runs at any comparable stage in their innings. That was the plan that killed the Tigers on the night.
By contrast, as the final result would suggest, our dressing room was agog, even if in silence, with a heap of runs in the bank. And did we not pay heavily for this habitual complacency? There was no plan because the belief all round was that we could not lose from 326/3, and in the last ten overs of the match there was no belief in the team that we could win. That if anything is not professionalism.
Could not our highly-paid coaching team take stock of our highest ever ODI score and plan on how to buckle down any obvious onslaught from any desperate opponent? Having a good over rate early in the innings should not there have been a slow-down tactic to break the rhythm of any marauding batsmen?
Despite their experience and knowledge of the game, our players were undone for want of blessing from all quarters.
We are allowing some criminals in the garb of sports fans to carry and wave the Pakistani and Indian flags, cheering and crying for the Pakistan and Indian teams, at cricket matches on this soil that is sanctified by the blood of the martyrs. As an insult to our sovereignty these locals paint their cheeks with the colours of those foreign countries and even wear foreign jerseys. These uncouth political elements, because a flag is a political property of a country, have no knowledge of history, no culture in their veins, no respect for the memory of the martyrs of 1952, 1969, and 1971.
This has to stop.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board should immediately formulate a plan to ban such flags being carried by locals and unsavoury activities of these radical activists at our cricket matches. There must also be a concerted effort from every quarter to stop such scandalous and disgraceful behaviour that hurts the sentiment of the majority, especially the family of the martyrs, and that is anti-state at the base. The ministries of culture, information, war of liberation, education, and home must make joint efforts to educate and eradicate.
Patriotic cricket lovers should form vigilante teams at all cricket matches, snatch the flags from the culprits, and hand them over to the law enforcers. Police, RAB and BGB should form strike forces to counter such terrorists.
Those who propagate that sports should be kept out of politics should realise that those Bangladeshi nationals who are bringing flags and rooting for a foreign country have already brought politics into sports.
This has to stop!
The author is the former advisory sports editor.