Vol. 5 Num 995 Mon. March 19, 2007  

ICC Cricket World Cup West Indies 2007
A gallant new generation

Former Bangladesh skippers hailed the famous win over India in the Cricket World Cup branding it as a 'unique one'.

Although killing giants in the World Cup is nothing new for the Tigers -- they beat eventual runners-up Pakistan in 1999 -- but the way they outplayed one of the pre-tournament favourites India in all three compartments of the game is something new.

"There had been ups and downs in the matches we had won previously against the giants. But it was not the case against India because we controlled the proceedings from the very beginning," said an excited former Bangladesh skipper Roquibul Hassan.

"I got emotional not only because Bangladesh won a match against a formidable side but the way they achieved it was incredible. It was truly a professional performance by the boys. I feel fortunate as a former captain that I could see my team playing the game in such a fashion," added the veteran.

Roquibul came hard on those who want to bracket the win as an upset because he honestly believes that this team have the ability to win matches regularly against any side in the world.

"Many are trying to term it as an upset: Why? I request them not to use this word to denounce the performance or strength of the team. Had we not beaten teams like India, Australia, Sri Lanka or Pakistan in the past, it would have been accepted."

In defence of his explanation, the opening batsman picked up one player in the team and he was none but young all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who once again showed his ability of steadying the innings in the middle by making 53 runs. "Can you imagine we have a player like Shakib who holds an average over 50?"

Joy, however, knew no bound for ex-captain Akram Khan, who watched the game along with his family members in his Chittagong residence as it was nice to see his heir apparent Tamim Iqbal putting the Indian bowling to the sword.

"We were simply crying when Tamim was batting because my elder brother (late Iqbal Khan) would have been the happiest man to see his beloved son (Tamim) helping Bangladesh win a World Cup match against a team like India. I was involved in Bangladesh's few victories and witnessed some wins previously but it was something new to me," said Tamim's uncle Akram, who led Bangladesh to the historic ICC Trophy triumph.

"If Mashrafe (Bin Mortuza) had broken the backbone of the Indian team, Tamim hammered the final nail in the coffin with dazzling stroke-play. I can assure you that we did not have the courage in our generation to play cricket like this," he explained.

The burly batter took the opportunity to express regrets over his judgement over the inclusion young wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, who kept cool to take the team safely to a five-wicket victory with a composed unbeaten knock of 56 after showing superb reflex in gloving Sachin Tendulkar's bad-pad catch.

"I made a mistake by criticising the selectors. What a cool customer he (Mushfiqur) is. I must say that the selectors were right. Actually, the young guys' attitude towards the game is totally different from our generation," he admitted.

To Khaled Mahmud, hero of Bangladesh's 1999 World Cup victory against Pakistan, the second round now looks just not a dream but a reality and he would love to see the team progress further.

"Why not make Sri Lanka the next target? It's true the Lankans play better under pressure and are also in good form. But nothing looks impossible for the Bangladesh team now after wins against India and New Zealand (in a warm-up match)," said the all-rounder.

"The cricket we played in the first game is simply outstanding. The confident cricket from the young breed actually makes the difference. I always love to see Tamim playing that way," he said of the explosive opener.