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Old March 26, 2007, 12:46 AM
Konka33 Konka33 is offline
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Default This is our moment

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This is our moment
Rabeed Imam from Port of Spain

It didn’t quite sink in until the winning runs had been scored. Bangladesh’s progress to the World Cup Super Eight is probably the most heartening moment for the true cricket neutrals and it didn’t come easy. Bermuda’s opening bowlers, particularly the balding 36-year-old Saleem Mukuddem made sure that some fingers and nails would be chewed and classy teenagers and experienced heads would fight as much with the extravagant seam movement as with their inner self before finally completing victory.
It wasn’t fun to watch the Bangladesh’s chase. The target, a mere 96 from 21 overs became a tricky one because of the nerves involved. When you are approaching history you are bound to feel that. Tamim Iqbal had gone in the second over trying to slash Mukuddem out of the ground only for the breeze to carry the ball near to Kevin Hurdle who did the rest in spectacular fashion. Aftab Ahmed tried to hit his way out of trouble but it was not going to work on this day with Mukuddem spitting fire at 120ish kmph. Shahriar Nafees was another victim of the perfect seam that squares you up and at 37/3 it was still a long way to go for Bangladesh.
Enter Shakib Al Hasan and Mohammad Ashraful. One without a thing called nerve in his system the other in one of those diamond streak’s of his when no one but he himself decides when to get out. They chanced their arms, missed, got beaten and had chances dropped or go through unmanned areas. But in the end it was their determination to write history that saw the Tigers home a fact acknowledged by the men who knew how tough it was.
“This game was the most difficult you could be in to qualify. To wait all day and then play 21 overs against a team that you are supposed to beat and beat well, chasing that total wasn’t easy as the ball was doing all sorts of things,” said coach Dav Whatmore. “It was very difficult for the boys in the first ten overs. It was the most difficult situation possible. I take my hat off (to the players). Yes it was close and the heart was pumping a little bit but the boys have not been in this situation before and they have done very, very well.”
Captain Habibul Bashar couldn’t have agreed more. “It was very tense and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t feeling a touch nervous. In a 50 overs game you have a chance to come back. Here with just 21 overs on offer if you lose wickets early and then find the asking run rate going up it just makes the task more difficult, doesn’t matter who you are playing against.”
Whatmore has seen it all. A miracle-maker with Sri Lanka he knows what his current charges are capable of and the preparation had been laid down accordingly.
“This is very significant for us. This is something I personally knew we had the potential to do and now it is becoming more of a reality,” said Whatmore with conviction. “The team came earlier than everyone else. The ICC arranged a couple of extra matches mainly for the benefit of Canada and Bermuda. I think we missed just one practice session due to weather. It was a combination of managing the players on the fitness area and the physiotherapy area and generally building each other up for every match that came along. This is a wholesome answer but there was much more that went into it.”
The triumph was also another statement from the team’s youth brigade.
“We’ve got a couple of guys who have good experience but still that is not the experience like some of the others. Apart from Habibul (Bashar) and Rafique the others are all below the age of 23. So it was young, it contains a lot of enthusiasm and energy and it’s good to be a part of it and to see some of the results coming through. We still have a long way to go but when you see results like this it’s really heart-warming and reassuring that what you’re doing is correct,” said Whatmore.
So what’s next for this gallant side that have stirred the imagination of the people here prompting some to display the banner from the stands, ‘Bangladesh you have won our Trini hearts’?
“I just feel that the players will have a wonderful, wonderful experience to participate in a major tournament against six of the best teams in the world. We are keen to put our best foot forward. We understand that we are still ranked number nine in the world. Ireland is there also and they have played very well and are ranked below us. We are going to go out there and really enjoy the experience more than anything else and see if we can cause an upset or two or more,” Whatmore stated.
The team most hurt from the Bangladesh roll is India who are going home and no wonder Bashar, who has indeed ‘sunk a billion hearts’ was asked at the post match briefing if the Tigers would miss India and also Pakistan in the Super Eight.
“As long as we are there I won’t miss anyone,” was the answer as a ripple of laughter spread around the media conference room. This is Bangladesh’s moment indeed and the captain was clear about it. “I think we deserve to be in the Super Eight because we have played good cricket. This wasn’t a surprise to me because we knew if we do the basics right and play with the spirit that has been the hallmark of this side then we can beat top sides. So let’s see what happens in the coming days.”
Whatmore is also not particularly pleased with the suggestion that Bangladesh’s run in this tournament is being labeled as a surprise by some.
“I’m not sure if surprise is the right word. Whenever we had a good win maybe others have said that they are surprised. The Bangladesh team went out there to do as well as it could. It wasn’t very long before that we had a good win against New Zealand. So we knew we had the ability within ourselves to cause an upset. Others might think it was a surprise but we quietly in here (pointing to the heart) knew we had a good chance if we played to our ability and had a little bit of luck.”
There were so many heroes on this day. Ashraful, the man of the match, was an epitome of the confidence that runs through the Tigers.
“Who me? No, no,” he said when asked whether he was nervous going in with three wickets down. “I thought if I make 30-odd we would win. I have been in similar situations before in Tests and one-dayers so this was nothing new to me. If anything I just backed myself and enjoyed the challenge. This is for all the wonderful people of my homeland,” said Ashraful who hasn’t been dismissed in this World Cup so far.
For Shakib, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Saturday, the day couldn’t have come sooner.
“I really wanted to do well today. It was tough in the beginning and I was searching for the ball. But when the edges went in the gaps and I survived a few close calls I just knew that this would be my day,” Bangladesh’s model of stability and assurance said.
This was also the day to remember the martyrs of the War of Liberation and one certain Manzarul Islam Rana.
“We dedicate this triumph to the martyrs of the Liberation War. It feels particularly gratifying to complete this win when the whole of Bangladesh is observing Independence Day,” said Bashar.
“I think of Manzarul Islam (Rana) also. He would have been the proudest. We all miss him badly. I know he is smiling from up above,” an emotional Bashar spoke about his former teammate who passed away in a road accident the day before Bangladesh completed the India kill.
And wasn’t this also the perfect time to acknowledge the traveling Bangla Army? The fantastic supporters who have come from all around the globe just to inspire the team have really made a lasting mark.
“I want to say to all of them that they were simply wonderful. I haven’t seen anything like this in my career. They have come from Japan, Italy, Denmark, United Kingdom, Canada, USA, literally from everywhere around the world…I mean I don’t have words to express our gratitude. You fans have been a pillar of strength and I am saying this from the heart. Thank you and we want to continue this journey with you,” said Bashar.
The sun had set when the Bangladesh team returned to their hotel. The lobby was less crowded but a significant presence of journalists, mainly from the Indian media was there to speak to the captain. At this point in time the neighbours too are reveling in Bangladesh’s joy.
Applause broke out when the players entered the lobby and that was multinational appreciation, nothing new for the Tigers since March 17.
It feels good to be a Bangladeshi in a foreign land now as we soak in the admiration. Fans have told me that taxi drivers refused to take a fare on learning they were from Bangladesh. In the streets of Port of Spain the Bangladesh players are instantly recognized and cheered and anything or anyone Bangladeshi is admire wholeheartedly. Never before have so many people of all nationalities, religion, cast and creed been won over purely by cricket power.
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Old March 26, 2007, 12:54 AM
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Rabz Rabz is offline
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This is indeed our moment...
let us busk under the bright sunshine...
Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest [Al-Qur'an,13:28]
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Old March 26, 2007, 01:10 AM
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cricket_pagol cricket_pagol is offline
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Nice article... this is indeed a moment to cherish
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Old March 26, 2007, 01:12 AM
guddling guddling is offline
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That article actually made me choke back tears of pride. Go Tigers!
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Old March 26, 2007, 01:15 AM
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Nocturnal Nocturnal is offline
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Very good one from Rabeed Imam.
Armchair selectors name their XI and conduct heated selection meetings on internet. Blood young players, some experts cry. Pick the best players, regardless of age, insist others.
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Old March 26, 2007, 01:21 AM
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amethyst amethyst is offline
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Originally Posted by Konka33
It feels good to be a Bangladeshi in a foreign land now as we soak in the admiration. Fans have told me that taxi drivers refused to take a fare on learning they were from Bangladesh. In the streets of Port of Spain the Bangladesh players are instantly recognized and cheered and anything or anyone Bangladeshi is admire wholeheartedly. Never before have so many people of all nationalities, religion, cast and creed been won over purely by cricket power.
aww... almost brought tears to my eyes.

May this status, joy and pride stay forever from now on.
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Old March 26, 2007, 01:28 AM
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cricman cricman is offline
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Reading this brought a big smile to my face

12.6 Syed Rasel to Sangakkara, OUT: What a delivery, completely fooled Sangakkara, first five delivery were the outswingers and now, this one comes in sharply, Sangakkara tries to left it and ball hits the off stump, top class bowling!
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