by Sheikh Tehsin Ali & Masum Billah
March 20, 2007
The trip from the Port of Prince International Airport to the team hotel will remind you of Bangladesh. A drive from ZIA International Airport is very similar in many ways. Similarly, the neighborhood of Trinidad Hilton will remind you of our Dhanmondi of 20 years back. Streets here are narrow by any modern standards. The humidity will also remind you of Bangladesh. Not much more is common between the two places. This is very much like the United States. Everyone speaks English. Greenbacks are accepted everywhere. Your cell phone works the same way.
|Mohammad Ashraful, in the short meeting with Tehsin and Billah in Trinindad
There is one big difference though. Bangladesh is a household name here. Specially after the famous victory, we now have a large group of local fans of the underdog. You will hear encouraging words from your cabby, from your hotel receptionists and from just about everyone else.
Tehsin bhai, crazyisland, Oracle (GM Bashar bhai) [all distinguished members of BanglaCricket] and I just had a fantastic evening at the lobby of the Hilton Hotel. In one evening, we met so many superstars of the cricket world. Starting from Sachin Tendulkar to our Mashrafee bin Mortaza to Sanath Jaysuria to Lasith Malinga. There is something about the air here, everyone is mellow. Who would have thought Greg Chappel would be so mellow. He was answering questions from the mobbing Indian fans, while signing autograph while smiling for the snapping cameras.
Well, I actually asked our Ashraful, and I?m not kidding, "How about getting married?"
"What for?" he asked back.
"Well, to settle down, to be more stable, y'know" I feebly backpedaled.
"No, it's too early. I want to wait. I don't want to marry too young" he replied.
I wished him well for tomorrow's match. The Indian and Sri Lankan fans also mobbed him, asking for autograph and pictures.
I asked Mashrafee if he had any kind of muscle ache, soreness after such a tremendous performance last match. He said he was fully fit for the upcoming match. You know, fast bowlers, in my opinion, always answer questions from their own angle, regardless of the precept behind the question. He seemed very confident, very fit. May be it?s just me, but he also looked thinner than the way he looked in the match against India. Habibul Bashar was the nicest, asked everyone to pray for the team.
Bangladesh team's media manager and our favorite writer Rabeed Imam joined us. Rabeed is a wonderful, soft spoken individual. We got to know a little more about his background. Before the Dhaka University, he went to BKSP, in the same batch as our ex skipper Naimur Rahman Durjoy. Rabeed gave us a nice, positive image of our teams present mindframe. One thing that the guys are doing is that they are not even thinking of this as World cup; they are looking at it as any other tournament. This helps them focus more on the matches, rather than dealing with the pressure that comes along with the World Cup.
|Mohammad Rafiq with Masum Billah in their meeting in Trinidad
Not only our team, the Bangladesh fans also command respect here now. They smile at us, talk to us, shake our hands and congratulate us on our success so far. They talk about Tamim Iqbal with great enthusiasm. Best of all, they know, anything can happen tomorrow. I was talking to these two Sri Lankan fans, coming from Washington DC, catching the connecting flight to Trinidad. We talked at length about the World Cup, and how it is already a memorable one, even before the second round. One of the two, Mukul, spent 5 years in Dhaka during the mid '90s, for education. "Sri Lanka is a very balanced team this year. The traditional performers are all in good form, the younger ones are playing the supporting role nicely. I think, your team is a genuine cup contender this year" I said to him. "Yup", says Mukul. "But our first acid test is tomorrow" both of them say it together, with a chuckle.
Moody's boys have a few worries now. Our boys, on the other hand, are going in with one thing in their minds. We heard from inside sources, they are not even thinking in a defeatist wavelength. They are going in to win, and to win only.
In a few more hours, whatever happens will happen. The Tigers are not worried about it. They have this undeniable aura of confidence about them now. It's so real, you could almost touch it. We are ready.
Here is some information everyone can use. The management named an unchanged twelve as the squad for the match against Sri Lanka. The final eleven will be selected after inspecting the pitch tomorrow morning. The team as a whole is safe and sound, although the only concern is a groin injury for pacer Shahadat Hossain Rajib.