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Victory snatched away from Bangladesh

25BY ENAYET RASUL BHUIYAN

Of course some persons may contend that the traditionally emotional Bangladeshis, so ardent lovers of cricket and aspiring for cricketing glory as a way of expressing their emotions and patriotism, are naturally prone   to shifting blame on something else to hide their  beloved side’s under performance. But a realistic assessment must show up that this was hardly the case for Bangladeshis in great number crying for the scalp of the umpires for Bangladesh’s defeat. First of all, let us look at the records. Bangladesh is no longer a minnow that went to this World Cup and freaked its way into its quarter final. They proved their caliber steadily in all the matches in their group and won convincingly against all except one member in their group before reaching the quarter final. Even its defeat by New Zealand in the last group match was full of the proofs of the upgraded condition of our team. It was only a victory of New Zealand against Bangladesh by a hair’s breadth. Even the commentators thought that the very narrow victory of New Zealand was one of those last minute imponderables  that characterize the game and most people on the ground thought that Bangladesh would be the winner in that match.Thus, Bangladesh was not a team  that had somehow sneaked into the quarter final that had a far superior team pitted against it. The Bangladesh squad was a battle tested one that earned its way up all through the group matches to be considered as equal to any other in the tournament. And who says the Indian team should be considered as invincible at least by Bangladesh ?  There is this record of Bangladesh beating India in a World Cup match and sending the latter  out of the tournament in 2007. So, by no means the outcome of Thursday’s India-Bangladesh match could be a foregone conclusion with the advance surety of a defeat for Bangladesh. Therefore, this claim that Bangladesh went down to a vastly superior team in all respects ought not to hold any water. Transparently to the careful and non discriminating watchers of the India-Bangladesh match, it  was unpardonable bad umpiring that sealed the fate of Bangladesh. A single wrong or mal intended  decision by an umpire in some cases is enough to turn anticipated victory of one side into defeat. But in the Bangladesh-India match there were four such decisions and all went against Bangladesh and favoured India. Conspicuously , there was not a single umpiring decision of this type against India.When the Indians batted first, a catch given by  the star Indian batsman, Rohit Sharma, was easily caught. But he was given not out by the umpires who called late a ‘no’ ball that spared Rohit from going back to the pavilion.  Rohit single handedly scored a ton and 37 runs and was judged as the man of the match for his match winning role. Needless to say, if Rohit was given out then this would be a big factor in reducing the total Indian score substantially thereby improving the chance of Bangladesh. The total Indian score would have been even much lower if a leg before wicket (LBW) appeal  in favour of a ball from Mashrafe Mourtaza  against another high scorer  was not disallowed by the umpires. All of these omissions are not the imagined versions of this writer. The commentators engaged for the match, TV camera reviews and comments from world famous cricketers, were all in the same line who were opposed to these  poor but fatal umpiring decisions. It was really double barreled shots  at the Bangladeshi squad by the umpires because when they started their innings, they suffered from such bad cases of umpiring twice that proved too costly. First, Bangladesh’s top batsman, Tamin Iqbal, was declared out in a low  catch in the third slip position that looked as if the ball had already touched the ground before the fielder had scooped it up to make it look like a catch. Second, Mahmoudullah, our star batsman in the on going World Cup, who practically had hit a six was shown as caught by the umpire. The fielder who was trying to catch the ball fumbled and caught it at the second try but by that time his foot had touched the boundary rope. So Mahmoudullah was not to be given out and 6 runs should have been added to his score. The TV cameras clearly showed the sequences but these were overlooked to declare him as caught.Ironically,  our captain Mashrafe could not even compel a review by the third empire in some of these cases as he had earlier exhausted his quota for  requesting such reviews. But the umpires on the field could of course ask for such reviews on their own seeing the protests of the Bangladeshi players on the field. Why they didn’t is a big question. It should be obvious what these gravely injurious decisions meant for the Bangladeshi side. From helping the piling up of a bigger score by the Indians than they could (if the decisions were taken correctly ) to completely undermining  the prospects of two of Bangladesh’s best batsmen to give that score a chase, the umpires virtually ensured the Indian victory. Indeed, no other match shot through with such  grotesque umpiring scandals, can be recalled in the World Cup Cricket tournaments held in the past.Bangladesh Cricket Control Board (BCCB) is not a fickle organization. It is respected as a responsible member of the  International Cricket Council (ICC). Therefore, when the Chairman of the BCCB  says that he intends to formally  lodge a complaint to the ICC for bad umpiring against Bangladesh, then this news cannot be taken easily. It shows the right resolve of the BCCB not to let the matter to rest and the whole country is likely to congratulate the BCCB  for its prompt and bold decision. Surely, we in Bangladesh will not suffer ignominy by timely protesting a great wrong against our cricket and cricketing aspirations.The stakes of Bangladesh were not small for Bangladesh in this World Cup and it has no reason for feeling squeamish in any way. Bangladesh is a team which had almost taken the Asia Cup in 2012 defeating India and Sri Lanka and losing to Pakistan in the final by two  runs only. Therefore, our team has no reasons to feel inferior to anybody. As cricket observers say, Bangladesh had all the  potentials of winning not only the quarter final but also the semi-final and even the final in the  on going World Cup . The consistently sound and some outstanding performances by Bangladesh in every match of this World Cup  are enough proofs of the same. But our victorious march forward has been cut short by treacherous umpiring. We would be not only rightfully seeking some revenge for ourselves but also  play a part  to ensure proper umpiring at international cricket in future by pressing for the redress of our grievances at the ICC. International cricket, specially World Cup cricket, must be deep cleansed of bad umpiring. The umpires who spoiled our World Cup  hopes must be penalized  for their acts through declaring immediate penalties for them and blacklisting them so that they would be considered unfit for umpiring in future international cricketing contests.

The writer is Associate Editor of The Independent.

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