Tour review

India vs Bangladesh, 2019-20

Mohammad Isam

Twenty20 internationals (3): India 2, Bangladesh 1 Test matches (2): India 2 (120 pts), Bangladesh 0 (0 pts)

For Bangladesh, there were no illusions that a tour of India risked being overwhelming. And, after beginning with the unexpected fillip of a Twenty20 win, so it proved. The Bangladeshis went on to lose the 20-over series, as well as the Tests at Indore and Kolkata, where India's bowlers ran riot, and their batsmen were remorseless. Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami - who between them took 33 wickets at 13 - looked like the best seam attack in world cricket.

Bangladesh were a mess off the field, too. Two weeks before the tour began, the players threatened to go on strike unless the board met their demands, which included higher wages, better facilities and improvements to the domestic structure. Nazmul Hassan, board president, retaliated during a bizarre hour-long press conference next day, calling the players' behaviour a "conspiracy", and leaving little room for negotiation. But after lengthy discussions, the strike was called off.

More instability was to follow. Shakib Al Hasan, the country's greatest cricketer and the leader of the rebellion, failed to show up at a pre-tour training camp, instead making headlines by signing a deal with a telecom company - breaking the board's rules. On October 29, three days after he had finally appeared at the camp (for a few hours), and a day before the players were due to fly to India, it was announced that Shakib had been banned by the ICC for two years (one suspended) for failing to report three corrupt approaches in 2018. Bangladeshi cricket went into mourning, with many fans refusing to accept what had happened. Several hundred took to the streets in Shakib's home town of Magura to demand the ICC revoke the suspension. But the evidence was damning.

As the experienced opening batsman Tamim Iqbal had already opted out of the tour because his wife was about to give birth, Bangladesh were in chaos even before they landed in India. The Bangladesh Cricket Board accepted their Indian counterparts' proposal to play a pink-ball Test, both countries' first. They had refused a similar request by New Zealand, but when Sourav Ganguly - the new BCCI president-came calling, they couldn't say no.

That, though, was for the end of the tour. First, Bangladesh surprised everyone with a hard-fought T20 win in Delhi, their first over India in the format. Virat Kohli had been rested, but the Indians still had enough batting talent to hit back in the remaining two matches, under the leadership of Rohit Sharma. Deepak Chahar, a medium-pacer from Rajasthan, starred with the ball, taking world-record figures of six for seven in the Nagpur decider, including a hat-trick.

The First Test at Indore was an annihilation, as India's opener Mayank Agarwal and their fast bowlers decimated Bangladesh, who - under new captain Mominul Haque - had boldly chosen to bat. But the day/night Test was always going to be the jewel in the crown, and Ganguly - a favourite in Bangladesh because of his Bengali roots - made sure his home city laid on a memorable show.

Kolkata was properly dressed up, and a full house on all three days was testament to the novelty value. Ganguly invited Bangladesh's prime minister Sheikh Hasina to the match, along with the Bangladesh squad from their inaugural Test, at Dhaka in November 2000, when he had been India's captain. He also invited Bengal's chief minister Mamata Banerjee, plus the great and good of Indian cricket and sport. The ceremonies were prolonged, but no one could fault Ganguly's attention to detail.

The cricket, though, didn't match the occasion, as Bangladesh crumbled twice. Kohli lit up the second day with a century, though the cricket-loving Eden Gardens crowd would have preferred a bit more fight from their next-door neighbours.

© John Wisden & Co