© AFP
The current Bangladesh team comprises of the right mix of young and old © AFP

Dear Bangladeshi Cricket Fan,

Firstly, congratulations on a fantastic game of cricket! A game some are already calling The Greatest T20 Ever Played. Of course, anyone with an iota of intelligence will concede that you were the better team on the day. Of course the result tells a different story, but if the result was decided purely on the basis of who was more dominant through the day, you guys would be the winners. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Bangladesh, T2o World Cup 2016, Match 25 at Bengaluru

As is inevitable after every cricket match these days, sparks flew on Twitter, and shots were fired on Facebook. As a Bangladeshi cricket fan, you must find the general attitude of Indians a touch condescending, and you would not be wrong. READ: Full Cricket Updates: India vs Bangladesh, ICC T20 World Cup 2016, Match 25 at Bengaluru

While the stronger feelings — hatred and loathing — were reserved for the Pakistan Cricket Team, it was something we had no choice over. We were born into families that hated Pakistan, and our films and books and jokes incited us to hate those guys, and so we did. We share a rough history, and decades of conflicting memories, so perhaps it is understandable. READ: An open letter to Bangladesh cricket fans

However, for a long time, Indians’ attitude towards a Bangladeshi challenge was looked at as…how to put it…’cute’. If there was a match with you guys, we would watch India’s batting, choosing to finish the important work for the day during your innings (and not without reason too, you guys honestly sucked donkey balls at the time!). READ: MS Dhoni proves his weight in gold in India vs Bangladesh, ICC T20 World Cup 2016

If it was a world tournament, and you were in the same pool as us, would chuckle when your name was brought up. For the longest time, Bangladesh was not even taken seriously. When Indians travelled to your country, youngsters were given opportunities to shine, or elders given rope to improve their statistics. MATCH REPORT: India clinch thriller against Bangladesh by 1 run in T20 World Cup 2016 at Bangalore

All of that, of course, was in the past.

Today, it is endearing to look at the progress you guys have made. I do not mean the team by itself, but also the fans. It is heartening to see stadiums full of people, madly cheering for their nation. We smile when we see you guys covered in yellow paint, screaming your voices hoarse. When we see you break down and cry after a match, or in those hilarious response videos on YouTube (did the guy who made the ‘Shidhu’ get awarded by the State yet? He should!).

You see, it reminds us of ourselves from two decades ago. In the 1990s, watching a match was not just about following the sport on television. It was a once-in-three-months cardiac-attack that every Indian fan went through. There was no guarantee of victory; we were saddled with a truly abysmal team that hinged on a certain Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. A team apparently strung together from a musical chairs competition, which had acquired a great knack for losing to Pakistan in crucial matches. A team so lethargic, the only time they dived was to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

It was shocking and frustrating, (and some old-timers would say), more exciting days to be a fan. I would not necessarily agree, having spent many such nights with my head buried in my pillow, shedding silent tears of sorrow caused by Venkatapathy Raju.

To be honest, we have not been a good nation of supporters at all. As cricket grows to humongous proportions in your own country, I sincerely hope you do not emulate some of our traits. We are an idiotic lot — we stone our players’ houses when they lose, and burn their effigies. We blame losses on their girlfriends, and speculate about their personal lives. The only reason we are not fully ashamed of ourselves, is the knowledge that our neighbours to the West do the same too!

And yet, as an impartial Indian cricket fan (or at least, as impartial as my nation would allow me to be!), one gets the feeling Bangladesh is in need for THAT ONE MOMENT.

Every sporting nation experiences that one watershed moment in their history, when everything changes, once and for all. A moment that captures the imagination of a nation, that elevates your position in the world, once and for all.

India had two such moments. The first was the World Cup in 1983; the second, the T20 World Cup in 2007. Both these incidents sparked dreams and hope and love and faith in the nation. It gave confidence to teams who were considered minnows (1983), or uncomfortable with the new form of the game (2007). These two moments inspired two different generations of sporting fans, and kept the hearts throbbing.

Bangladesh Cricket needs THAT ONE MOMENT.

*

It is coming; I would be a fool to deny it.

Your team today comprises of the right mix of young and old. You have learnt to play with courage, irrespective of opposition or occasion. It is just that moment that seems to elude you guys.

But it will come, and things will never be the same for Bangladesh again. It will make you command respect, seriousness, and (that one trait sportspersons crave) fear from the opposition.

Till then, keep your heads high, and the yellow paint on.

Sincerely,

An Indian Cricket Fan

PS: Please be nice to Mushfiqur Rahim. He got carried away by the moment, but he seems like a really nice guy. Do not stone his house and burn his effigies, it is not a nice thing to do. 

(Based in Hyderabad, Hriday Ranjan blogs at http://heartranjan.wordpress.com/. His first book Xanadu Nights should be out shortly. His Twitter handle is @heartranjan)