India and Bangladesh may have resolved a knotty boundary problem but a no-ball bowled two months ago remains a festering issue.
There was a hunch when in Bangladesh one would witness some of the passion the illegal delivery continues to evoke. That it would start at the immigration desk, however, was unforeseen. “From India? Cricket? Welcome. Hope you have a good time. I’m also hoping there will be no juggling of catches or a no-ball this time,” said the officer, tongue firmly in cheek.
The ball that “knocked us out of the World Cup” was the one that Rohit Sharma hit straight into the hands of a Bangladeshi fielder only for the delivery to be declared illegal. Sharma went on to add another 47 runs and India ended the neighbours best run at cricket’s biggest spectacle by 109 runs. That was March 19.
Two months later, from the airport’s arrival lounge to the taxi booth, through the congested streets of Dhaka and even at the hotel gates, the hurt and even anger is hard to escape.
Once told this writer had come to cover cricket, the first questions was, “Are you from (N) Srinivasan’s town?” “No sir, I’m not. I come from the city of Jagmohan Dalmiya, the man who ended his reign.” Bright smiles greeted the answer.
It isn’ t about losing to India, everyone says, but the manner of defeat. “That man Srinivasan…,” is a common refrain. “It’s called passion, dada. Sports and culture are two things we live for,” said taxi driver Mohammed Ibrahim, who like most Bangladeshis, has a strong opinion on cricket.
“Ideally, the ICC should have penalised the umpire. But I hear ICC is now the Indian Cricket Council?” Ibrahim asked in all earnestness. “No, it isn’t. It’s still the International Cricket Council.”
“May be. But isn’t he still there?” “Yes he is.” Friendship is in the air though, thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit that saw the signing of a historic land-swap deal. And, even mercurial India captain Virat Kohli, who has a bit of rivalry with Rubel Hossain, the fast bowler who was no-balled, hasn’t remained unaffected.
“We had issues in the past but we have moved ahead. We are finished with the World Cup and played a lot of cricket since then. So I don’t think there will be any remembrance or memory of that,” Kohli said in Kolkata Sunday.
In Dhaka, the opinion is different. Bangladesh are all set to play gracious hosts but they have not forgotten that loss and want to avenge it.
“We might have put up a good fight against Pakistan (in the previous series) but we also know India will be tougher opponents,” Ibrahim said.
“But we must beat them, with a smile of course."