BAN Vs PAK, Women's World Cup: Of Historic Wins, East Pakistan And A Liberation War

Social media sees emotional responses after Bangladesh won a close match to leave Pakistan women at the bottom of the ICC Women's World Cup 2022 table. 

Bangladesh scored their first win in a Women's World Cup match in Hamilton on Monday. (ICC)

'Revenge of freedom from Pakistan', 'East Pakistan won by nine runs', 'India won by 9 runs', 'congratulations lady tigers' and 'congratulations Bangladesh, love from Pakistan'... these were some of the politically loaded comments made on social media after Bangladesh secured their first-ever ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup win over Pakistan in Hamilton on Monday. (More Cricket News)

The outpouring of reactions, many laced with bitter memories of the (1971) war and struggle for independence, are not uncommon when teams like Bangladesh, Pakistan and India clash with each other. And when it is a cricket match, irrespective of men or women in action, this emotional outburst reaches a frenzy.

Sport is supposed to be a balm. It is expected to be a medium to foster friendship, harmony and respect and in the past has been used as a tool to stop wars. But in modern day, sports has not been able to play that role.Rather the politicisation of sport has only generated ill-feelings, one-upmanship and general hatred among all stakeholders of sports. There are some exceptions, of course. 


Sports continuously bows down to money and power. The biggest sports organisations on Planet Earth like FIFA (football), ICC (cricket), International Olympic Committee, AIBA (boxing), FIDE (chess), FIH (hockey) are massively political. Lobbies harm bonhomie and the transparency that sport demands. Corruption is a constant company since it all boils down to votes for people to stay in power.

Twitter reactions after Bangladesh stunned Pakistan in Women's World Cup. (Screengrab)  Screengrab

In these turbulent times, sports has failed to play role of peacemaker. The Olympic charter says "The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with 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 sports go hand in hand. The arguments in favour of Russian athlete bans were restated last Friday by IOC president Thomas Bach in an open letter to international sports officials, reported AP.

Bach said that while it was clear Russian athletes were not responsible for the war, the fairness and integrity of competitions where Ukrainians could be unable to compete had to be considered.

He also cited “safety risks for Russian and Belarusian athletes taking part in international competitions, because of deep anti-Russian and anti-Belarusian feelings following the invasion.” 

Bach also criticised those who made the “cheap argument” that the IOC broke its own rules on neutrality by politicising sport with its call to block Russian competitors.


“Whoever so blatantly violates the Olympic Truce with political and even military means cannot denounce the consequences as being politically motivated,” Bach wrote, referencing the pledge signed by all 193 United Nations member states, including Russia, ahead of the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics.

But encounters among Pakistan, Bangladesh and India evoke different types of reactions. Monday saw a lot of that when India helped Bangladesh win their independence from the clutches of the Pakistan army in 1971.

The Bangladesh Liberation War in East Pakistan happened between December 3-16, 1971. The Indian Army fought alongside the Mukti Bahini to liberate Dacca (now Dhaka) from the Pakistanis. East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

Although this was not the first time Bangladesh had beaten Pakistan in a World Cup match at any level - BAN men had beaten PAK in 1999 World Cup - Monday's sensational win by the Bangladesh women's team was very special.

Pakistan remain without an ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup victory in 13 years, while Bangladesh celebrated a major milestone in their development after an impressive all-round display.


Bangladesh might know Pakistan well – they have met 12 times in the past 10 years – and share the head-to-head series with six wins each but none of their five previous successes would have been as sweet as this nine-run victory.

The win against Pakistan will be a turning point for Bangladesh women's cricket. (ICC) ICC

The impact of this result on women’s cricket back home will be immeasurable and it’s far from a stretch to say millions will have been watching and listening around breakfast tables from Dhaka to Chittagong and everywhere in between, as their team completed a major milestone at just past 10.30 AM local time. 

“I cannot describe this in words,” Nigar said. “This is our first-ever win in World Cups. We have made history today.” 

Like their captain, Bangladesh are determined, unflappable and unafraid - it is little wonder they have scaled these heights under her captaincy – and they needed all of those traits at Seddon Park, as Pakistan gave them all they could handle. 

Now, Bangladesh have a few days off before they play West Indies on Thursday, a match they can approach with confidence and increased belief. 

Nigar was quick to add that this is just the beginning and her team will not stop pushing. They will celebrate the win but this is far from job done - both on and off the pitch as they continue to create a legacy that will last for generations.


(With inputs from ICC)