Bitten by the underdog

A file photo of Sudhir Gautam, the face of Indian cricket fans. In an interview to a couple of Indian television channels, Sudhir claims that he narrowly escaped an attack on him by the Bangladeshi cricket fans, who booed and chased him after India lost the series.-SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

For the Indian mediapersons, there is no trace of any touring player in the lobby, swimming pool or coffee shop of the team hotel a day after the world No. 2 side suffers its second consecutive defeat and first one-day series loss to Bangladesh, notes Y. B. Sarangi.

The delight of the girls from Rajshahi division is understandable. They have just been crowned Bangladesh’s National women’s cricket league champion after beating title holder Rangpur in the final, with a prize money of 50,000 taka.

It is the end of a long wait for Rajshahi, which finished runner-up thrice since the inception of the National women’s league in the country in 2007-08.

They are relaxed and are talking among themselves at the breakfast table in the hotel. Their interaction revolves around how they would spend their prize money. It is as if they have passed a big exam with flying colours!

With the care and attention they are getting from the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), it will not be a surprise if the women cricketers also make a mark in the future.

22-06-15: The Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, the abode of the Indian and Bangladesh cricket teams, is a regular meeting place for the Indian as well as Bangladeshi journalists covering the series.

For the Indian mediapersons, there is no trace of any touring player in the lobby, swimming pool or coffee shop of the hotel a day after the world No. 2 side suffers its second consecutive defeat and first one-day series loss to Bangladesh. Each player is confined to his own room and brooding over the unprecedented reversal. Ajinkya Rahane, dropped from the second ODI, is the only one to get out of his room and have some practice with batting coach Sanjay Bangar. The air is so heavy with disappointment that the Indian scribes feel for the players and leave the place without hanging around for long.

23-06-15: Bangladesh’s win over India in the second one-day international not only excites the home fans a lot but also spells trouble for Sudhir Gautam, known as the face of Indian cricket fans. The man, who paints himself in the Indian Tricolour and waves the National flag at every venue where the Indian cricket team plays, is ‘disheartened’ with the treatment he gets from some Bangladeshi supporters.

In an interview to a couple of Indian television channels, Sudhir claims that he narrowly escaped an attack on him by the Bangladeshi cricket fans, who booed and chased him. Sudhir reportedly says that when he got into an auto-rickshaw with mesh cover on both sides, some of them threw stones at him and damaged the mesh.

Sudhir says he had to flee to Chittagong for a day in order to save himself. He, however, reappears at the nets session of the Indian cricket team on the eve of the third and final one-dayer.

The two newsmen, who report the issue, go through some police interrogation before resuming their duty, while Sudhir is provided security cover for the rest of the tour.

24-06-15: During Ramadan, it becomes very difficult to eat anything in public places in the day time. When a majority of the population fasts, then it is a bit insensitive to have food in front of others.

On a match day, it is all the more difficult to have some refreshments in the Press box as most members of the local media do not have anything. On the day of the third one-dayer, I face a situation which is a little embarrassing. Around evening time a handful of volunteers distribute Iftaar packets. Without realising that the packets have been given prior to the scheduled time when people could break their fast, I start eating the stuff served to me. A little later when the others start to have their Iftaar meal, I realise my mistake. But by that time, the damage has been done. I just hope that no one felt bad.

25-06-15: Dhaka is a shoppers’ paradise. Around the city there are a lot of markets buzzing with activity all through the day. I finally get time to buy some local stuff for near and dear ones. Since Bangladesh is known for its fine cotton clothes and designer sarees, there is no confusion as to where I should keep my focus on. Hard-pressed for time, I decide to visit a large store, with a reliable name, dealing with clothes and handicraft items.

Once I enter the store, it is not at all easy for me to take my eyes off any product. If I like one saree, 50 more would beg my attention. If I appreciate a fine kurta, a hundred more are there to be noticed. Whichever section I enter, the confusion is the same — what to pick and what to leave out.

As my dilemma consumes almost two hours, I cannot afford to stay there any more. Finally, I make some hard decisions before I leave the shopping centre with a lot of admiration for Bangladeshi clothes.

26-06-15: It is time to bid good bye to Dhaka. The city and its cordial people have given me some memorable moments to cherish for a lifetime. As I take a taxi early in the morning to catch a 10 a.m. flight, the rain accompanies me to the airport. Friday being a holiday in Bangladesh, there is very less traffic on the road. It is a pleasant rarity in the thickly populated city. The 30-minute drive is smooth and enjoyable as I have a good look at the Dhaka landscape on a rainy day. The airport wakes up lazily on my arrival as the check-in desk of my airlines opens after a wait of about 15 minutes.

When I finally enter the aircraft I am eager to have another look at Dhaka from above. But it is not to be as the clouds have enveloped the whole city.

Nevertheless, I am happy to be on my homeward journey.