India's chance to make amends
It still hurts -- that defeat at the hands of Bangladesh at Queen's Park Oval (Port of Spain, Trinidad) in the World Cup four years back.
It was a defeat that hastened India's -- one of the favourites -- exit from the tournament. It was only Bangladesh's second win over India and a significant one considering the two teams hadn't played against each other in one-day cricket since December 2004. That victory indicated a marked improvement in the Bangladesh team in the game's shorter version.
A lot of water has flown under the bridge since. India has had seven successive wins over Bangladesh in the last four years.
However, scars of that painful defeat remain intact. Perhaps, they will be there in the psyche of the quintessential Indian fan for eternity.
The quirky fate though has presented India an opportunity to ensure retribution, a chance to make amends and pay back to Bangladesh in the same coin.
Image: Indian cricket team
Photographs: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
India go into the match as firm favourites
The opening match of the 10th World Cup, featuring the two neighbours, assumes significance for this very reason.
It gives India an opportunity to secure that revenge win and prove the world cricketing community something that the Indian fan has always believed -- that the shock result in 2007 was only an aberration.
The stage is different -- the match is being played at the Sher-E-Bangla stadium at Mirpur. However, the stakes are more or less.
It is a fact that the stakes of Bangladesh have risen in the one-day format over the last four years, but so has Team India's. The latter expectedly go into the match as the firm favourites.
Image: Team India
Photographs: Getty Images
'Important to play the game in the right frame of mind'
And even though Indian fans wait in eager anticipation for what they consider a revenge win, the Indian captain is quick to draw the lines.
"I never predict when it comes to cricket," he says, refusing to buy the 'revenge match' argument.
"We will just try and give it our best shot," he promises, adding, "It is very important to play the game in the right frame of mind and that is what we are focusing on."
There is caution in Dhoni's voice even as he replies. The Indian captain is well aware that the opposition cannot be taken lightly despite the vast difference in talent (and potential). Whether one admits or not, the fact is Dravid's team had indeed paid the price for underestimating the opposition at Trinidad.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
'Both the sides have to play to their potential to win'
Dhoni though is quick to point out that the defeat of 2007 won't be playing on his team's minds when it takes to field for the opener on Saturday.
"The past is past," says Dhoni, adding, "I am more optimistic than anyone going into the game."
Despite India being the favourites, Bangladesh goes into the game with the home advantage, something their captain feels will help his team scrape through.
"Both the sides have to play to their potential to win," admits Shakib Al-Hasan, before adding, "However, since we know the conditions well it gives us a slight advantage.
"For the past two years or so we have played some really good cricket at home."
Image: Bangladesh captain Shakib Al-Hasan
'We believe we can beat the West Indies'
Shakib's statement stands vindicated when one glances through Bangladesh's recent record at home -- they have won seven of their last eight one-day games at the Sher-E-Bangla stadium -- a record that cannot be ignored.
While many locals are interested in the match per se, the Bangladesh think tank has already started looking beyond the same, and towards a qualification to the next stage.
"We need to win four games to ensure qualification," says coach Jamie Siddons.
"We have to beat the two minnows (Ireland and the Netherlands) and we believe we can beat the West Indies," he adds, before making a toungue-in-cheek remark about the fourth match his team thinks they can win.
Image: Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan
'We will focus on Ireland, once we knock India off'
"We start against India and then proceed to play Ireland. But we will focus on the Ireland game once we knock India off," he says, with a smile.
If the Indian camp wasn't looking at this fixture as a revenge game they better start doing now. For another defeat to Bangladesh at the World Cup will leave an indelible imprint, adding to the humiliation in the Caribbean.
Besides, it would mean an inauspicious start to a tournament where your team is considered the favourites to win.
Image: Shakib Al Hasan