The Bangladesh dressing room was virtually an indoor party stand as the team finally let down its guard after a day of high intensity cricket. Just moments earlier there was a spontaneous baby rocking motion by the players sitting in the viewing area as Mushfiqur Rahim hit the winning runs to bomb to smithereens all the pre-conceived and ill-informed notions some people have of the Tigers being ‘minnows’. I hope I’ve heard this ridiculous term used against Bangladesh for the last time.
The unique celebration came about when someone suggested it would be a good idea to incorporate the victory cheers with the happy news of Javed Omer’s wife giving birth to a baby boy earlier in the day. “After today Javed has to name his son March 17 Omer Belim,” said captain Habibul Bashar with conviction as the group burst into laughter.
After the post-match presentations the real fun started. Aftab Ahmed led the dancing by climbing up on top of the kit compartments. Everyone was on their toes jumping, singing and shouting. This may sound bullish but this defeat of India was a certainty in the minds of this Bangladesh team long before the game day. Those lucky enough to be associated with the team knew it.
“We have adjusted to the wickets here and know exactly what to expect. We were the first team to arrive in the Caribbean and the warm-ups in Antigua and Barbados have certainly helped,” felt Bashar.
“The pressure is on them but we don’t really care. In fact most of the boys do not even bother about reputation of the opponents. This is not something enforced, it has come from within,” said vice captain Shahriar Nafees was saying on Thursday and that statement did not need convincing. The boys were walking tall, enjoying tall and training tall.
“I just feel something special is going to happen. There is a different attitude,” fitness coach Paul Chapman had said at the breakfast table on Friday.
Amid the deafening noises in the dressing room Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s voice suddenly stood out. “This one’s for Rana” and everyone instantly started chanting ‘Rana, Rana’. Manzarul Islam Rana’s death had shattered the players but the professionals they are they transformed that sorrow into inspiration. They had diligently appeared for the team meeting literally minutes after hearing the news of their former teammate’s death and planned for the India kill. No one spoke a word about the accident. Then they went for training, sweated it out and came back with even greater focus. They had a job to do and all things emotional had to wait no matter how hard it was to suppress them.
“Rana would have been so proud. I’m sure he’s watching us from above,” said Bashar who admitted that he had difficulty sleeping the night before the match as Rana’s face kept appearing in his thoughts.
For Mortaza it was a test of his mental steel and he came out trumps. “He was my best friend. I dedicate today’s man of the match award to Rana,” said the pace spearhead during the post-match media session having destroyed India with pace, accuracy and fast-bowling pedigree. He repeatedly challenged the 90 mph region and moved the ball off the seam like a master of that trade. “I had lunch at Rana’s place when I was in Khulna just before leaving for the World Cup. His parents thought of me as a son. He was a good, good boy,” said Mortaza.
If Bashar had registered for a popularity contest he would have swamped the votes in the media briefing over Rahul Dravid. The questions so dissecting towards the Indian captain were totally different when Bashar walked in. It was fun and at the same time enlightening for the foreign journalists who have now found out that this Bangladesh team packs quite a punch.
One asked Bashar if Tamim Iqbal was given certain instructions that allowed him to go ballistic.
“No, no. This is the way he plays. We don’t put a seal of expectation on him because he is only 17. The instruction for him is to go out there and play the way he has always played, his natural way and we tell him to enjoy himself,” Bashar said.
Tamim had been hit on the shoulder by a short ball from Jaheer Khan but what happened next was nothing short of an action movie. The next ball Tamim went down the wicket and took a wild swing only to miss it as the dressing room lost a heart beat. Another ball later there was an exquisite back-foot drive and then dashing drive to the cover boundary.
“I just forgot that I had been hit. I don’t think I could have continued for long if I had let that thought get to me. It was a good ball and that’s about it,” said Tamim who kept the back foot drive on top of the six he had hit stepping down to Zaheer. The ball crashed into the second tier of the stands. There was another battle won also.
“He (Munaf Patel) said something and I told him some things too,” giggled Tamim.
The brilliant Bangladeshi fans were a pride to their countrymen at the Queen’s Park Oval. Most are expatriates and have left their businesses, studies, jobs and families for a few days for this cricket pilgrimage.
A good number have arrived from the United States and Canada with the Canadian flag appearing in one Bangladesh corner flapping wild along with the Green and Red. Some have traveled from the U.K. and someone told me that a few have come from Japan. Talk of cricket passion, from Bangladesh there is Tauseef, who works for a real estate company in Dhaka. The total would be around 50 but these Bangladeshis had a ball at the Queens Park Oval and before the day was out there were a handful of Tigers converts from the locals.
“Dis is da way cricket should be played. This is calypso maan,” said the security personnel marshalling the dressing room area as Tamim was going full blast.
When the Bangladesh team returned to their hotel the lobby they found had been taken over by the Bangladeshi supporters and well wishers and they stayed till late in the evening. The players have been ideal ambassadors mixing with dignity and humility.
On the morning after Malcolm Speed the ICC CEO stopped by the players at breakfast and congratulated them once again. So many others are also lauding the Tigers including the staff at the Hilton who are elequently seeking permission before stating how they loved the Bangladesh brand of cricket on Saturday.
last night the boys assembled at the team managers room and another noisy and fun-filled gathering took place before they went out to dine at an Indian restaurant and the singing and chorus in voices that would frighten any music connoisseur never seemed to stop.
The Tigers enjoyed a rest day on Sunday with a swimming session in the morning being their only training. A Bangladeshi fan took the team to lunch at a Chinese restaurant while the evening will be spent with local Bangladeshis who have invited the whole team over.
RANA RANA RANA
We did the same at my place we had lots of fun wanted to go out to indian imporium but it was praying time already and then we decided against mocking anyone...