There are two types of rivalries. The traditional ones encompass the battles between England and Australia or India and Pakistan. Then there are those inflamed by the public and social media in the digital era – India and Bangladesh’s contests come fall under that category. In recent years, the contests between the two sides have invoked extreme emotions, bringing the worst out of the fans. Be it photoshopped images or the debatable no-ball in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final, the India-Bangladesh contests have had acrimonious backdrops, which the upcoming game may not escape.
So, where does all this come from? In the day and age of social media, ordinary fans have an outlet to vent out their emotions in public. As a result, some of the lesser intelligible ones indulge in unwarranted exchanges. It is not a reflection on the larger cricket loving community and does not speak for the players. In fact, there’s rarely been an incident on the field when the two sides have met. However, Mushfiqur Rahim’s post on social media post India’s defeat in the ICC World T20 2016 semi-final didn’t help matters.
Perhaps it comes at a time when Bangladesh are on the rise and are wanting the world to take notice. Yes, the world is taking notice of their splendid rise and improvement over the last few years. They are now ahead of Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the rankings, which says a lot and although they were a little lucky to get through to the Champions Trophy semi-final, with a game rained off, one can say that it reflects their rise. Amongst the fans, there could be an impatience to get that recognition. There could be the odd feeling that oppositions do not take them as seriously as they do some others. All these are normal fears, which perhaps blow up on social media.
But, let us focus a bit on the field. India have been wary of Bangladesh ever since the 2007 World Cup defeat. Those memories linger but they have never been complacent facing them in following years. In 2014, they sent a second string side for the One-Day International (ODI) series, but a year later, they sent their best team for Bangladesh had done well at the World Cup Down Under. That was a sign of respect. Also, as India prepared at Edgbaston, Virat Kohli, praised the Bangladesh team and the strides they have made in recent times. That too shows how the Indian team looks at Bangladesh – there is that respect one needs to have for any opponent.
So, the fans on social media should take a leaf out of that book and relax. Yes, it is a game both sides want to win but these are two countries that love the sport for what it is. Let us keep aside our petty battles on social media and enjoy the game, irrespective of the result. India may be favourites but this tournament has shown that such tags mean nothing! Ask England!