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India will ride on Bangladesh’s support against Pakistan in Asia Cup 2014

Bangladeshis can never forget what India for them in 1971 © Getty Images
Bangladeshis can never forget what India for them in 1971 © Getty Images

India and Pakistan are set for yet another riveting encounter, as this clash promises to be nothing less than a semi-final for the Asia Cup 2014 tournament. While both the countries will find ample amount of supporters from their respective nations, it will be interesting to see who the Bangladeshi fans will tend their support to at Fatullah on Sunday. Devarchit Varma has more…

Virat Kohli-led India are set to take field in their biggest clash so far in the year 2014 — a clash that would not only revive the cricketing battle with their arch rival Pakistan, but one that can determine their future in the Asia Cup 2014 tournament. While this tie promises yet another thrilling encounter for both the sides, the two teams will be needing ample amount of support from their fans, importantly, those who will be present in the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka.

The Indians have returned to familiar conditions and grounds after disastrous outings in New Zealand and South Africa. While they began the tournament with a comfortable win over Bangladesh, the lost to Sri Lanka must serve as a wake-up call. Now, as India gear up for one of the biggest challenge in recent times, they would certainly need strong support from the crowd in the stadium for the big clash.

For various reasons, Bangladesh fans aren’t likely to support Pakistan. The history that the two countries share is only of bloodbath, discrimination, and massacres. The incidents of 1971, which led to Bangladesh’s creation, forced the country’s government to demand an official apology from the Pakistani government, which they haven’t received in the last 40 years. The animosity and hatred has carried on for generations and to make the matters worse, there are some cricket-related issues as well.

Keeping in mind that there is a consistent growth in the anti-Pakistan sentiment in Bangladesh, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) pushed for a change of venue for the Asia Cup and the ICC World T20 2014 tournaments. Bangladesh is hosting both these tournaments and it is a major achievement for the country to host two global tournaments of the game back to back. But Pakistan weren’t in favour of this and even contemplated pulling out of the tournament. Bangladeshis, certainly wouldn’t have liked this fact that PCB did everything to snatch away the opportunity from them and even threatening to not take a part in those. At the end, Pakistan team did get the PCB’s nod to play in both the tournaments.

There is another issue that must be mentioned here. Pakistan, who have been stripped off of international cricket at home since March 2009 after that unfortunate terrorist attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team bus, have been making desperate attempts to ensure the resumption of international cricket in their country. Somewhere in 2012, PCB got very close to getting Bangladesh to agree to tour Pakistan. But unfortunately, a court in Bangladesh declined granting permission to the national side, resulting in thousands of Pakistani getting disappointed and the tension between the two countries souring even more.

Last but not the least, who would forget the heart-breaking loss that Bangladesh suffered at the hands of Pakistan in the 2012 edition of the Asia Cup tournament? The Bangladeshis had worked really hard to reach the tournament, beating the mighty powerhouses such as India and Sri Lanka on their way. But Pakistan dashed all hopes of a tournament win in the final, which not only stunned the entire cricket-mad country, but also brought many of the Bangladeshi cricketers to tears. How can a staunch supporter forget that?

Now, in the ongoing tournament, even though their team is all but out of the tournament after suffering two consecutive losses, Bangladeshis are least likely to extend support to Pakistan for Sunday’s clash. One must also remember that Bangladesh cricket fans do not have a strong anti-India sentiment as the Sri Lankans have.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)

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