Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Updated: Saturday, May 29, 2004
Men with smiles


When the BBC headline read ?Bangladesh made sorry start? in the morning, it never, not even for a moment, looked like an overstatement at all. How could it be? After all, it has become something like a Henry's law for the tigers for quite sometime now. Then again, it wasn't like the olden days. As soon as Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar's bat started to sing the high notes, it was readily apparent that the West Indians were not going to be amused, at least for the better part of the day. Smart BBC editors didn't take long to quietly change that word. And that, was just the beginning.

We don't know how fast mighty Lara's even mightier finger was coming along, but he soon must have developed a painful nasty feeling, a running amok in the stomach, 'no this isn't happening, somebody please tell me this isn't happening'. But no one was around in the crowd to offer such comfort. Not too far away was the man with a smile on his face. Yup, that unmistakable smile, even from a distance, grew wider with time. With that smile, Habibul Bashar slowly yet surely was coming out of his overcast performance that had shadowed his natural brilliance with the bat; a brilliance which had kept stat guru's jaws wide open only months ago. The outfield was heavy, yet his powerful shots continued to keep the West Indies fielders on their toes. Know-it-all-pundits didn't think twice, even hours before the match, to predict a cakewalk for Lara's boys who managed to borrow a smile or two from the man in the middle only when an early lunch was called.

The ball was whacked all over the ground against this four pronged pace attack. An attack, so well known just a few years ago, that the West Indies opted to launch once again, first time this millennia against the so called minnows.

No, there was neither text book display of stroke making nor a demonstration of classical batting talent, but the scorekeeper at the Beausejour Stadium wasn't looking for any; he was a busy, very busy man today. Soon enough, the Caribbean camp woke up to their dismay; it is they who are being attacked on the contrary. Patience and discipline disappeared in the twinkle of an eye. Wides, no balls, misfielding floated around in numbers like that of the outfield grass. They needed help. Indeed, serious help to show them the stumps and not the unprotected back of an unsuspecting batsman.

While the meaning of disarray was gaining newer heights all around, there was no effort however to hide any steel underneath that smile in the middle. Habibul Bashar was determined not to show any mercy today. He had, as if, a lot to catch up to and was in a big rush to bring the day's proceedings to a speedy end. A mighty four brought up a rapid seventeenth half century and the ton arrived in a big hurry soon after. Easy going opener Javed Omar Gullu patiently continued to soften the leather for his captain almost like a crafty genius. Improved footwork didn't help him much in the end though when he tried to follow his captain's lead. No doubt Rajin Saleh was the perfect replacement for that tedious job. Bashar's departure didn't stop the party at all as the young sensation Ashraful had something of his own in mind too. The Indies' misery continued to be piled up in chunks as he picked up the onslaught from where Bashar had left off. Dav must be a happy man today. At last some of his boys has responded to his endless call. It's been a while; he didn't have to punish his vocal cord before leaving the dressing room. Could have been a grand day today but who knew more than Whatmore how much is enough to rock the other side of the wall? He'd take multiple small steps in any day than settle for a wild jump. Forget the score, wouldn?t you take the ever widening smile in the middle and a quite, relaxing breeze in the small dressing room any day? When the circuit finally broke, as Khaled Masud, Mushfiqur Rahman and debutant Faisal Hussain didn't find much ground in the middle, the Tigers were brought back to earth. Still, Dav must be a happy man today.