Its morning again in the US, and along with the rising sun comes the bittersweet
realization that the great promise of redemption from halfway across the world
is all but gone. What is only a cricket match to most becomes a way of life
to the maniacal few, and for those Bangladeshi fans who were mesmerized by what
Mohammad Ashraful and his supporting cast did to the Indians yesterday in Chittagong,
the question of the day is ?Did it really happen??
Did we really score 397 runs in a day? Did we really lose 16 wickets, the last
9 in less than a session? Did we really miss the follow on target by a mere
7 runs after scoring over 300, massive by our standards? Did Ashraful with his
magnificent unbeaten 158 really strike fear in the hearts of the opposition?
Then just when we thought salvation was near, did he first chase a suicidal
run in the last ball of the first innings, and then not come in to steady the
top of the order while his teammates were throwing it all away in the second?
On the morning of the fourth day, are Bangladesh again an innings short of the
opposition? Many will complain about the suspect umpiring, which was surely
poor but which probably went both ways. I wonder why Nazmul could not have faced
a couple more balls in the first innings ? the fear of which prompted
his run out and the follow on. Most of all we will silently accept that any
innings of class by Bangladesh will always, inevitably, be followed up by one
of complete chaos. It is as if it were a mathematical formula, indestructible.
Magnificant 158 not out from Ashraful
The morning papers and cricket guru Imtiaz on Banglacricket.com rightly reminds
us that Ashraful did not deliver the ?promised land?; he only brought
us close to it. In fact, Aminul Islam Bulbul hit a sublime 145 in the maiden
Test against India, only to see Bangladesh capitulate for 90 in the second innings,
a match uncannily similar to the one being played this week. So perhaps we are
no closer or further away from the ?promised land? than when we
What I will remember most of the night will be how grown men and women stayed
glued to a screen all night, watching a little man play savior. We were in the
middle of yet another infamous Bangladeshi ?dawat?, yet for once
the cricket reigned supreme. There were calculations and counter-estimates,
how many more runs to the follow on target, can we bat all day, how many sessions
will the Indians be forced to play in their second innings to rebuild their
lead, can we last on Day 5 to draw it? The heart wanted to believe, even if
the calculations did not supply the right data.
Bleary-eyed as I type, on a Chicago morning so cold I hesitate to go out to
get the Sunday paper from the driveway, I?m not sure what happened last
night in Chittagong. It was probably more of the same, what has happened many
times before. But then a part of me believes it was exactly the tonic that my
soul needed at this moment, that little bit of hope and pride that will keep
me up again tonight and the many nights to come, hoping against hope for some
redemption. And for that I must thank Mohammad Ashraful.
Rafiq Ahmed is a staff member of BanglaCricket and writes from the frozen city
of Chicago. He goes by the nick Rafiq in the BanglaCricket forums - Eds