A hot rivalry, but at what cost? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 17, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:44 AM, March 17, 2018

A hot rivalry, but at what cost?

Shakib, Nurul reportedly fined; get demerit points

When Mahmudullah Riyad, in his inimitable manner, flicked Isuru Udana for a massive six over square leg he not only won the match and took Bangladesh to the final, but also sealed arguably Bangladesh's best win in T20I cricket so far. It was a remarkable win and was celebrated as such in Bangladesh, judging by the sounds of crackers going off in the Dhaka night.

However, to the eyes of the rest of the world, and certainly in the eyes of Sri Lanka fans, the image of Mahmudullah running triumphantly after the six will compete with another altogether unsavoury sight when the dust settles -- that of skipper Shakib Al Hasan calling the batsmen off the field when 12 was needed off four balls.

There were other images too. Non-playing member Nurul Hasan having to be restrained physically during shouting matches with Kusal Mendis and Thisara Perera, Mendis himself having to be restrained by Tamim Iqbal after the match when he went after Nurul, the entire team doing the Nagin Dance with team manager Khaled Mahmud a very happy and eager participant. All of these, while unsavoury, can be debated one way or the other and has happened before in Bangladesh cricket. In fact, Akila Dananjaya celebrated by miming a snake charmer after taking the catch to dismiss Shakib Al Hasan, so the Bangladesh team will have a case for their own celebration. 'He started it' seems an apt argument for the level of maturity on display yesterday.

What is indefensible and unprecedented in its petulance, however, is Shakib threatening to effectively forfeit the match when they felt aggrieved by an umpiring decision.

The incident that sparked all the drama was umpire Raveendra Wimalasiri, according to Tamim Iqbal and others present at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo, signalling a no-ball and then supposedly withdrawing it after bowler Isuru Udana had bowled a second bouncer to tailender Mustafizur Rahman in the last over. According to the laws, only one above-shoulder delivery is allowed in an over in limited-overs cricket and the second such delivery has to be called a no-ball, and so Bangladesh's players felt that they were cheated out of not only a run but an extra delivery at the most crucial stage of the match. And both deliveries were above shoulder height.

Shakib came out of the dressing room and called Mahmudullah back, argued with the off-field umpire and also argued with TV commentator Russel Arnold who was near the advertising hoardings. He was the picture of fury trumping good sense. It was learnt that Shakib and Nurul incurred a demerit point each and were fined 25 per cent of their match fees by the ICC match referee after the match.

It will not matter much of course, because Bangladesh won the game in grand fashion and for most Bangladesh supporters, many fuelled by imagined past injustices, that is all that matters. It also cements a true rivalry with Sri Lanka.

Shakib said after the match that he hoped Sri Lankans would support them in the final. Along with him saying that he was in fact telling the batsmen to continue when he was waving his arms towards the dressing room, that comment was perhaps the funniest thing about a very ill-tempered affair.

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