There are, according to 2011 census figures, just over 27,000 Bangladesh-born Australian residents and the entire state of Victoria has a little over 5000. If each and every Bangladesh-born human being in Australia turned up to cheer for their team in the World Cup quarter-final against India on Thursday, they could easily be drowned by the noise generated by expatriate and travelling fans on the other side.
Yet, Bangladesh would know that, on the biggest day in their country's cricket, they would want to generate not merely the noise of the crowd, but a sonic boom that carries home to their millions of fans. To be able to do that, they would have to bring amongst themselves, a certain stillness of being and yet acute presence of mind.
It is what Bangladesh are trying to do: the team has shut itself out from individual attention to media demands and they are grateful for their itinerant travels during the group stages which would make MS Dhoni and his Support Staff XI very cross. Bangladesh have gone from Canberra to Brisbane to Melbourne, to Nelson in New Zealand, back to Adelaide and then another time-difference buster back to Hamilton. The travel has also kept the Bangladesh squad away from excessive attention of local fans in the larger centres. It's not that they are absent.
The MCG today had scatterings of families taking photographs and inching close to the field where the Bangladeshis trained, but they were a miniscule presence in the great bulk of the ground. The last time Bangladesh had turned up in the World Cup, they gave hosts New Zealand their most nervy game of the competition. Yet, to merely give the Indians a good game won't be enough at this stage - a knockout is sudden death and being 'valiant losers' stands for nothing when you are packing your bags as winners are trumpeting their success.
Yet, at the moment, the main point is that Bangladesh are here. Where they had originally intended to be, in the knockout stage of the competition, their first target through this competition. Collect the points, any which way, get in contention and see what happens on the day. What happens next, though, depends on other factors.
Of the least concern to coach Chandika Hathurusingha was the prospect of an afternoon thunderstorm being predicted somewhere or the fact that India's spinners could have a feast in terms of their options on the vast expanse of the MCG. "See, we can't plan anything for weather and I don't think the wicket is going to spin that much, it is too early to say." Hathurusingha said that the quarter-final would be held on the same strip that hosted Bangladesh's match against Sri Lanka. That scoresheet read like a vintage Bangladesh dark day, but that was well before they turned England turtle and Rubel Hussain hit 140kph.
Hathurusingha, who had earned his stripes as a coach with New South Wales and later the Sydney Thunder, said his team was peaking at the right time and their best chance was being at the top of their game on the big day and "catching the established sides off guard… if they have an ordinary day and if we play to our potential we can beat any side."
Potential can often be used as a euphemism for underperforming sides or to cover game-day efforts; in the case of Bangladesh, though, they have been able to show off their stuff and what they are capable of, at the sharper end of the tournament. The new centrifugal force of their batting has been Mahmudullah, and Soumya Sarkar is a confident gen-next figure. Like all great competitors and skillful athletes, Shakib Al Hasan has no doubt spent years waiting for a day like this.
The last India-Bangladesh World Cup match was the opening game of 2011 event in Dhaka, but whenever the sides resume their skirmishes no one forgets Queen's Park Oval 2007 and the ambush on India. Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib, Tamim Iqbal and Mashrafe Mortaza belong to the class of 2007, and will allow themselves a little giggle. Hathurusingha said that the team did not talk about that match at all. "Because that is in the past and I don't think we have [talked about it]. Until you reminded me [about the four players], I don't even know about it."
India have had their revenge for that match in 2007, but this is an ICC event knockout match, and they remain among the strongest teams of the competition. Hathurusingha is not about to make the giant angry: he does not throw down any gauntlets or offer any lip to the Indians. His role is to keep his team's temperatures down, to ensure decision making in the camp is clear and as free of emotion as it can be. He said the team which on Thursday "enjoys the occasion," will succeed. He would want the young men under his charge to "enjoy the opportunity that has represented itself" in front of Bangladesh, over and above the fear of instant death and opportunities. "For us it's the first time but we know we are good enough and that's why we are here."
An entire nation is on the edge of its sofas.