Bangladesh’s historic win over Pakistan in the Women’s World Cup evokes memories of the freedom struggle and the 1971 liberation war
“Pakistan’s freedom revenge”, “East Pakistan won by nine points”, “India won by 9 points”, “Congratulations to the tigresses” and “Congratulations to Bangladesh, love from Pakistan”… these are some of the politically charged comments made on social media after Bangladesh claimed their first-ever ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup win against Pakistan in Hamilton on Monday. (More cricket news)
The outpouring of reactions, often mixed with bitter memories of the war (1971) and the struggle for independence, is not uncommon when teams like Bangladesh, Pakistan and India face off. And when it comes to a cricket match, regardless of the men or women in action, this emotional outburst reaches a frenzy.
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Sport is supposed to be a balm. It is expected to be a means of fostering friendship, harmony, and respect, and in the past it has been used as a tool to stop wars. But nowadays, sport has not been able to play this role. On the contrary, the politicization of sport has only generated unease, overbidding and general hatred among all those involved in sport. There are some exceptions, of course.
Sport continually bows to money and power. The biggest sports organizations on planet earth like FIFA (soccer), ICC (cricket), International Olympic Committee, AIBA (boxing), FIDE (chess), FIH (hockey) are overwhelmingly political. Lobbies undermine the good nature and transparency that sport demands. Corruption is a constant business since it all comes down to votes to keep people in power.
In these turbulent times, sport has failed to play the role of peacemaker. The Olympic Charter states: “The aim of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to the building of a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which demands an understanding in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
The banning of Russian athletes due to the war in Ukraine is a classic example of how international politics and sport go hand in hand. The case for banning Russian athletes was reaffirmed last Friday by IOC President Thomas Bach in an open letter to international sports officials, AP reported.
Bach said while it was clear that Russian athletes were not responsible for the war, the fairness and integrity of competitions where Ukrainians might not be able to participate had to be considered.
He also cited “the security risks for Russian and Belarusian athletes participating in international competitions, due to the deep anti-Russian and anti-Belarusian sentiments following the invasion”.
Bach also criticized those who made the “cheap argument” that the IOC broke its own neutrality rules by politicizing the sport with its call to block Russian competitors.
“Anyone who so blatantly violates the Olympic Truce with political and even military means cannot denounce the consequences as politically motivated,” Bach wrote, referring to the pledge signed by the 193 United Nations member states, including Russia, before the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing.
But the meetings between Pakistan, Bangladesh and India arouse different types of reactions. Monday saw a lot when India helped Bangladesh win its independence from the clutches of the Pakistani army in 1971.
The Bangladesh Liberation War in East Pakistan was fought from December 3 to 16, 1971. The Indian Army fought alongside the Mukti Bahini to liberate Dhaka (now Dhaka) from the Pakistanis. East Pakistan became Bangladesh.
Although it was not the first time that Bangladesh had beaten Pakistan in a World Cup match at any level – BAN men had beaten PAK in the 1999 World Cup – Monday’s sensational victory by the Bangladesh women’s team was very special.
Pakistan remain winless at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in 13 years, while Bangladesh celebrated a milestone in their development after an impressive all-around display.
Bangladesh may know Pakistan well – they have met 12 times in the past 10 years – and share the head-to-head series with six wins apiece, but none of their previous five successes would have been as sweet as this nine-point victory.
The impact of this result on women’s cricket at home will be immeasurable and it’s no exaggeration to say that millions will have watched and listened around breakfast tables from Dhaka to Chittagong and everywhere in between. , as their team reached a major milestone just after 10:30 a.m. local time.
“I can’t describe this in words,” Nigar said. “It’s our first-ever World Cup win. We made history today.
Like their captain, Bangladesh are determined, unflappable and fearless – it’s no wonder they reached such heights under his captaincy – and they needed all those traits at Seddon Park because Pakistan gave them everything what they could handle.
Now Bangladesh have a few days off before they face West Indies on Thursday, a game they can approach with confidence and added confidence.
Nigar was quick to add that this is just the beginning and his team won‘t stop pushing. They will celebrate victory, but it’s far from over – both on and off the pitch, as they continue to create a legacy that will last for generations.
(With contributions from ICC)