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Bangladesh know the odds are stacked against them beating India in Thursday’s World Cup quarter-final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. If history and current form are any guide, India should win in a canter. Bangladesh have done well just to make the quarter-finals, beating England, Scotland and Afghanistan along the way, but few expect them to go any further.
And that suits Bangladesh just fine.
The Tigers are used to living in India’s cricketing shadow and are happy to play the role of underdogs against their subcontinent neighbours. And while they have only managed three wins over India in 28 One Day Internationals it is enough to give the Tigers hope.
Their most famous win came at the 2007 World Cup when Bangladesh beat India by five wickets at Queen’s Park Oval at Port of Spain. It was only a pool match but the result meant India failed to make it past the first round.
For the Bangladeshi players, 2007 remains a constant source of inspiration, even if it removed the veil of surprise.
“Obviously it will be in our memory,” Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan told a news conference on Tuesday. “But it’s a new game and we all know it. India are a very good side, they have some world class players. “Obviously it’s going to be hard for us. We know that but we’re up for the challenge.”
India avenged their loss to Bangladesh at the 2011 World Cup, which they went on to win, and have been punishing them ever since. Since 2007, Bangladesh have beaten India just once, in 2012.
Shakib, currently ranked the world’s top all-rounder, said Bangladesh were adopting the same approach they had in 2007 in the hope of producing another major upset.
“I think we played fearless cricket and we all want to play that brand of cricket (again) and, so far in this World Cup, I think we’re doing it,” he said. “India have a very good team. They are the defending world champions, they’ve got some world class players, but we’re doing well in this World Cup, our confidence is high enough and we’re up for the match.”
Bangladesh were once regarded as the whipping boys of world cricket but Shakib said India, perhaps more than most countries, had unwittingly helped them become a force to be reckoned with. Many Bangladesh players, including Shakib, play in the Indian Premier League (IPL) alongside India’s top players and being exposed to massive crowds in big matches.
“This is the first time we’re playing in a World Cup quarter-final but at the same time we need to understand it’s another game of cricket,” said Shakib. “Obviously, on pen and paper, India is a better team than Bangladesh, no one has any doubt about it. But on the day it’s a one-off game and if we have a good day and they have a bad day, you never know.”