Events unfolding, With every dance down the wicket from Tamim Iqbal, little-fancied Bangladesh landed another blow in a series of blows that would eventually eliminate India, wearied by the weight of expectation and a discordant dressing room, from the first round of the World Cup. Four years later the teams meet again, but in a tournament protected from the domino effect of a shock like the one in Trinidad. The stakes this time are different as well, for it is not just India, overwhelming favourites again, who carry a tremendous weight of expectation.
As Shakib Al Hasan entered the opening ceremony in a decorated cycle rickshaw, soaking in the goodwill from tens of thousands inside the Bangabandhu Stadium and the crowds surrounding it, his demeanour revealed pride and a sense of the grandeur of the occasion, and none of the reluctance he’s had in captaining Bangladesh in series past. There would also have been a feeling of responsibility, of a magnitude no Bangladesh captain has ever faced before.
For the first time, Bangladesh are expected to go beyond the first round of a World Cup. For the first time, and largely because of a significant home advantage, their passage will not be considered an upset. For the first time, they are hosting a World Cup and can see all around them a stirring passion saturating the country. Bangladesh too will be relieved that the format allows a little room for error, while striving to avoid it against one of the tournament heavyweights.
Justifiably or not, India have begun several World Cups wearing the favourites tag, but never has that label been more authentic than now. Their bowling attack might blow hot and cold, but even on their most frigid days India possess a batting line-up capable of overhauling anything. And they play all their matches on the familiar pitches of home, apart from the opener against Bangladesh, which is at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Mirpur. The Indians won’t say that revenge for 2007 is on their minds but there is no chance they will go into the contest with an iota of complacency.