The all-Asian U-19 World Cup final in Potchefstroom should have been a matter of delight for neighbours India and Bangladesh. Instead, they made it an ugly spectacle. One wondered whether these are indeed teenagers learning their ropes in international cricket.
Imagine, Sachin Tendulkar at 19 was a full-fledged international, having scored Test tons in Manchester, Sydney, Perth, Johannesburg and Chennai. If only someone had told these youngsters about not only Tendulkar’s achievements, but also how he conducted himself on and off the field! For that matter, they should have looked up to their own mentor Rahul Dravid or other models like Anil Kumble and VVS Laxman.
One of the five players found guilty by the ICC for almost coming to blows was the highest wicket-taker in the tournament, Ravi Bishnoi, who would have been India’s hero had they won the Cup.
The other Indian to be charged is Akash Singh. Bishnoi had an additional charge for his unbecoming behaviour after dismissing Avishek Das.
Three Bangladesh players charged for going berserk were Mohammad Towhid Hridoy, Shamim Hossain and Rakibul Hasan. All the players received varying levels of sanctions and demerit points which will run for two years and their behaviour will come under microscope during that period if they turn out for India.
After the damage was done, the two captains realised that their players had gone too far. Bangladesh’s Akbar Ali said something bordering on an apology, while his Indian counterpart Priyam Garg felt it should not have happened.
The behaviour of the players reflected poorly on the managements of the teams. Players should have been told that they are at the threshold of careers that could take them very far as international players and that conduct is as much important as performance.
Cricketing ties between India and Bangladesh have a history, like it is between India and Pakistan, though not as do-or-die. Bangladesh’s in-your-face aggression began after their 2007 World Cup victory that eliminated India. Eight years later, at the MCG, they believed they could beat India in the quarterfinals, having won against England on the way.
In that game, Bangladesh thought Rohit Sharma was unfairly reprieved at a critical juncture as umpires judged a 50-50 above-the-waist full toss by Rubel Hossain to be a no-ball. After that the teams played a few close games and Bangladesh lost a couple from winning positions. Now their U-19 team has created a history and the players were carried away.
Beating India will always be a major feat for Pakistan and Bangladesh. Instead of cherishing the moment, the players tried to pour out their pent-up feelings and the Indians also did not help matters by behaving boorishly. India should have been celebrating World Cup’s highest run-getter Yashasvi Jaiswal’s batting, Bishnoi’s bowling and pacer Kartik Tyagi.
Instead, they lost their way while batting and could not keep their composure on the field. They got needled by the bowlers and could not get a decent total. India’s senior teams, both men and women, also had a bad time. Whatever Virat Kohli might say about his team’s performance, they were out of depth in the ODIs after winning the T20I series in New Zealand. India could have salvaged the last match, but the bowling looked thin.
The women’s team, which chased down Australia’s 173 in a crucial league game, failed to cross the line, unable to reach 155 in the final against them. The Indians must get over the nerves of playing in finals. They will be playing in the T20 World Cup from February 21 and should find ways to overcome difficult situations with their enormous talent.
(The writer is a veteran commentator. Views expressed are personal. He can be reached at email@example.com)