Vol. 5 Num 994 Sun. March 18, 2007  
Front Page

Tigers turn India upside down
Bangladesh heroes dedicate famous victory to Manzarul Rana; batsmen complete job after bowlers' demolition of fancied India

Bangladesh thrashed India by five wickets to seal a historic triumph and send shockwaves through the cricketing fraternity in their first group World Cup match at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain early today.

Victory came when Mushfiqur Rahim, whose selection ahead of veteran Khaled Mashud caused an uproar at home, cut Zaheer Khan for a single to point in the 49th over sending expectant millions glued to their TV sets at home in the early hours of the morning into joyful celebrations.

Bangladesh toppled India's not so impressive 191 with nine balls to spare thanks to a devastating exhibition of fast bowling from man of the match Mashrafe Bin Mortaza who snared four wickets for 38 runs.

In reply, Mushfique showed maturity beyond his years as he scored a watchful 56 to guide his team home. He shared an 83-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Sakib Al Hasan who struck a fine knock of 53 off 86 balls after teenage sensation Tamim Iqbal had set the tone with a blistering 51.

In what has been a month of pain for Bangladesh as regards the struggle for freedom thirty-six years ago, the Tigers did more than their share to uphold the spirit of the martyrs as well as the recently tragically demised fellow teammate Manzarul Islam Rana, who died in a road accident in Khulna on Friday.

The Tigers who promised to dedicate a victory against India to Manzarul, stood up to be counted and came out with a steely resolve and a spring in their steps immediately after the match began after both teams observed a minute's silence in memory of Manzarul, who was long considered the true cheerleader of the team.

With the win the Tigers not only took a giant step towards qualification for the Super Eights but also erased their bitter memories of the last World Cup where they failed to win a single match. It was Bangladesh's second win against India after their victory in a Boxing Day encounter at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in 2004.

Away at Sabina Park in Kingston, Ireland looked odds-on for an amazing triumph after bowling Pakistan out for 132 in 45.4 overs with fast bowler WB Rankin snaring three wickets. They were 81-4 in 27.3 overs before bad light stopped play till filing of this report.

Victory was a collective effort of fielding, bowling and batting but there were two exceptional individual performances which will go down in the annals of history.

After Mashrafe's show during the first half, it was all Tamim as the left-hander played a dazzling cameo to score a quickfire 51 with seven fours and two sixes. He was particularly severe on Zaheer Khan whom he hit for fifteen runs in an over inclusive of a gigantic six over mid-wicket.

Opening partner Shahriar Nafees (2) fell leg before to Zaheer early but by that time Tamim was already in irresistible mood cavorting down the wicket to the quicks and consigning every bad ball to the fence. He shared a 45-run second wicket stand with Mushfiqur Rahim but fell soon after reaching his half-century caught behind off Munaf Patel.

Aftab Ahmed (8) quickly followed him but Sakib al Hasan joined Mushfique, who was promoted up the order, to steady the ship.

Earlier, it was Mashrafe who led the attack superbly from the front grabbing four wickets for 38 runs while left arm spinners Abdur Razzak and Mohammed Rafique chipped in with three wickets each.

The Indians batted first after winning the toss but failed to settle. Partnerships were few and far between during an innings where they were on the back foot from the third over when Mashrafe knocked back Virender Sehwag's middle stump.

Bowling with venom and vigour, the man dubbed the "Narail Express" picked up from where he had left off against New Zealand in a practice match that Bangladesh won.

Reaching speeds in the early 140 kmphs, he then had Robin Uthappa caught at point, the dashing right-hander playing a loose stroke after being subject to a probing spell from the nagging Syed Rasel at the other end.

That bought Sachin Tendulkar to the crease and he along with Sourav Ganguly set off to stabilise the innings but left-armer Abdur Razzak struck in his very first over with the prized scalp of Tendulkar to nip that in the bud.

Coming onto bowl in place of Mashrafe, Razzak surprised Tendulkar by firing in a slightly quicker arm-ball, one that held its line after pitching on middle. Tendulkar was foxed and saw an inside edge deflect onto his pad and pop up behind the stumps where Mushfiqur Rahim held on at the second attempt. India were reduced to 40-3 off 15 overs.

Rahul Dravid and Ganguly put on 32 runs for the fourth wicket before the Indian captain was trapped leg before playing across the line off the first ball of the 25th over by veteran spinner Mohammed Rafique. India at that stage were four for 72.

Yuvraj and Ganguly joined hands in an 85-run partnership and just when it looked like they were going to wrest the initiative away from the minnows the spinners trapped the Indians in a web.

First Yuvraj, who had scored freely till then, holed out to Habibul Bashar with the score of 157 and then India proceeded to lose their next four wickets with the addition of two runs as top scorer Ganguly (66), Dhoni (0), Harbhajan (0), and Agarkar (0) all fell within twelve deliveries of each other.

The innings could have closed then and there but the last wicket pairing of Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan put on a breezy 32 in quick time to save India from further embarrassment.

"It was a good toss to lose. Then our spinners did a fantastic job. There wasn't a lot of turn but they put the ball in the right place," said a smiling Bashar during the break.

HANDLE IT IF YOU CAN...Bangladesh tearaway Mashrafee Mortuza sends down yet another thunderbolt at the India top order during a group World Cup match at the Queen's Park Oval stadium in the Port of Spain. PHOTO: AFP