No longer pushovers | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 14, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:11 AM, June 14, 2017

No longer pushovers

The historic Edgbaston ground, the home of Warwickshire cricket and famous for Brian Lara's 501 in 1994, is set for another historic moment of a different kind when Bangladesh take on India in the second semifnal of the ICC Champions Trophy tomorrow.

The Tigers' maiden appearance in the last four of an ICC flagship event has already created a ripple in Birmingham and the game got an extra bite with India being the opponent after that World Cup quarterfinal in 2015.

Although the hype in social media has grown out of proportion, this game has already provided a big advertisement for the ruling body of the game. The tickets have already been sold out and the vibe surrounding this game has been so much so that it has provided a platform for another potential Asian rivalry in the making on the sidelines of the famous Indo-Pak battle.

Although it's too early to say, but the rise of Bangladesh over the last couple of years, especially in the one-day version, added that extra spice the game desperately needs to grow. If you discount the Ashes, cricket is still most popular in Asia and more importantly in the Indian sub-continent.

It is also not a surprise that three Asian teams are in the semifinals in conditions most alien to them. It also speaks of how well these teams, especially Bangladesh and Pakistan, have played.

“This is good for Asian cricket. But at the start if we had said that three Asian teams would make it into the semis, nobody would have bet on that. That shows that whoever plays well on the day can do some damage -- that is why it's called the Champions Trophy,” Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha quipped yesterday.

Pakistan have been going through a transitional phase, while India are the defending champions. But even if Bangladesh are the surprise package in the tournament, which they are, they have proven that they are pushovers no longer. They made it into the tournament proper on merit and made it to the semifinals by no accident. They deserved it.

India are certainly a notch above in terms of experience. But Bangladesh have got an experienced unit alongside an exciting young brigade who hold no fear. During Bangladesh's training session at Edgbaston yesterday, there were a lot of Indian journalists in attendance alongside the strong contingent of Bangladeshi reporters.

This has never been the case before. They were even interested in having access to Bangladesh cricketers in order to get a few quotes. They are also not handing out proxy advice to the effect of 'win or lose, go out there and fight to win some pride'. They are showing genuine respect to an up and coming team. The Tigers can only raise that profile if they can match their big neighbours on a level playing field on Thursday.

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