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    Volume 2 Issue 47| December 12, 2010 | s


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Here Comes the World Cup!

Salman Rob and Maleeha Mazen Khan

photo: yamin tauseef jahangir

Munaf Patel bowling the second last over with Mushfiqur Rahim on strike, at the Queens Park Oval during the first game of the 2007 International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup. A run left to win with a groundbreaking crowd on their feet at pin drop silence. Can Mushfiq do it? That is the adrenaline rush we want back, pumping inside each of our veins and the feeling where nothing else matters other than that last run. The feeling when we constantly keep saying, "Please make it! Please make it!"

It is hard for us, the cricket fans, to see our team losing so many times but, as proven before, all we need sometimes is a little bit of spark in our players to run down any team in the world. The potential in the Bangladeshi team is just outstanding and till now all we needed was someone to guide us through and Jamie Siddons has done a stunning job in doing that.

Over the years the Bangladesh Cricket Team has improved in its game and is now hoped to perform better for the World Cup. photo: Anisur Rahman

On the other hand, the preparation for the whole World Cup, which will open on February 17, 2011 in Dhaka, Bangladesh has been really great even though the countdown clock did not work at the inauguration day. The matches will take place in Chittagong and Dhaka. Another great news for all the cricket maniacs around Bangladesh pops in as the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) takes the initiative to rebuild the stadiums and bring in more seats for the spectators. This is a great opportunity for Bangladesh to rebuild itself as a whole. Hotels, inns and service apartments are preparing to give a good service to the foreign spectators while the world cup is held. With the buzz going around all over Bangladesh regarding the whole World Cup being held here, we wanted to share some of the answers to many questions being raised. We had the opportunity to interview excited Bengalis, about their views and feelings regarding the World Cup.

Mohammad Nazrul Islam, a CNG run auto-rickshaw driver, is all cheers for the Tigers. "All I want is for our team to win,” he says. “If they can do something this time maybe they can even get the cup somewhere along the line in the near future." He also mentions how upset he is about not getting the chance to watch the game even at home since he does not own a television. "To me, getting to watch our team play at the stadium would be like a dream come true," he adds.

Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong is getting ready in a new way for the tournament
Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

For some, the World Cup is a great way of entertainment and getting a chance to watch it in our country gives a whole new meaning to the people. “Bangladesh will win the tournaments held here, and that is because starting from the street kids to people belonging to the higher income range, everyone is enthusiastic and supporting when it comes to the Tigers,” says Anas Mahadi a Higher Secondary Certificate candidate. “Well, at least when they are in good form!” He also shares his thoughts regarding the World Cup arrangements. “I honestly think that they should make sure that the crowd is not rowdy in the gallery. I am saying this from my past experiences of watching tournaments from the gallery. I actually like watching matches from the Club House, since the crowd there is sober.”

The Mascot is very much the topic of discussion amongst the youth
Photo: yamin tauseef jahangir

“I hope it brings a lot of money to our locals!” says Ali Anubhab Rajat, who recently finished his Advanced Level exams. He believes that the country will benefit economically in the next few months because of the World Cup. “The World Cup being held here means that plenty of foreigners will be coming into the country,” he analyses. “Which would mean that our local restaurants will run a good business for the next few months, in turn letting in a good flow of income all over the country!”

Akhter, a very interesting young man, who works at the Daily Star cafeteria is a die-heart sports fan and is already preparing himself for the World Cup. “I think Shakib Al Hasan should be the captain,” says Akhter. “He is young and fit if compared to Mashrafi, who stays injured most of the time.”

One element that boggles the minds of the cricket fans is, where to get the tickets and of course how much they would cost. Undoubtedly, nobody would want to miss the opportunity to watch the World Cup matches being held in Bangladesh. Well, get yourself geared up because you can start purchasing tickets from January 1, 2011. Tickets can also be purchased online. Worry not, if you do not get yourself a ticket (after all they will be quite expensive!). One hopes that the life-sized audiovisual screens will be put up all over the country for the sake of the cricket fans.

We all have the same dream to hoist our flag with pride
Photo: Anisur Rahman

The World Cup is bringing out the 'fanatic' in one and all, even Bangladeshis working outside the country. “I am very excited about the World Cup,” says 56-year-old Fakhrul Bashar, Project Manager, Madaf Trading and Contracting Company, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and also a big-time cricket enthusiast. “In fact I am almost speechless! This event will definitely boost up Bangladesh's image all over the world. I believe that Bangladesh has already become a threat to the cricketing giants, for instance, New Zealand. The team is in a much better shape and have the power to bring the other teams down!” Compared to four years ago, Bashar believes that the Tigers are much more composed and focused. “The team is much more consistent now,” he says. “The spinners are doing well. We still need to sharpen the fast bowling section, however.” Bashar also believes that this year the team will showcase elements that have never been in display before and expects plenty of action on the field! “The young upcoming cricketers have a bright future in Bangladesh,” he says. “Both the BCB and the government seem to be very serious about building strong cricketers who can bring the nation pride.”

Another hot topic of this year's World Cup is the new mascot, Stumpy the elephant. One of the most talked about issue at the corner of every street, the elephant's name was unveiled 200 days before the first ball is bowled following an online contest organised by the ICC. According to star.com, the winner received a bat signed by cricket stars Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar FROM India and Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena. According to srilankacricket.lk, Stumpy is young, enthusiastic and determined to win. Aged 10, in human years, he believes that cricket is the most fun game ever, especially street cricket that he loves to play. The game also helps him to master the art of concentration. Stumpy dreams of playing the ICC World Cup one day.

Regarding the arrangements made for the World Cup, Rabeed Imam, ICC Media Manager- Bangladesh & BCB Media is very hopeful. “Although we have very limited resources, with our commitment towards this life-time opportunity to host this big event, we are doing the best possible,” he says. “One take a look at the stadium and will immediately understand how strong the preparations are going.” Regarding the mascot, Imam says, “The elephant was chosen because it is a sub continental symbol and also delineates the characteristics of being powerful and forceful around the world."

Did you know that Bangladesh has a National Women's Cricket Team, which regularly practices in Dhanmondi? Very soon, this team might also come to the limelight if given proper training.

The National Cricket Academy is being prepared for team practice in the World Cup

Even though the streets seem to be filled with male fans all the time, there are female fanatics of cricket, just waiting for a chance to unleash their passion for the game. According to Naziba Basher, an Advanced Level student from Maple Leaf says that she likes cricket because it is a very calm and respectable sport, truly a gentleman's game. “I believe that the World Cup next year will inspire a lot of young people to be driven to live their dreams, in Bangladesh,” she says. “Besides, promoting sports in a large scale will do a lot to boost the country's spirit.” Like everyone else, Naziba expects a lot from the Tigers. “In the last World Cup, the team had reached the Super 8's and I believe they are in a better and stronger shape now, than they were last time. Obviously, they will do much better this year. Along with Shakib Al Hasan's excellence in being an all-rounder, Abdur Razzak's current state of bowling, Tamim Iqbal and Shahriar Nafeez's partnerships are also something to look forward to.

A lot now depends on our captain to guide his team towards victory
Photos: Anisur Rahman

Passing by the Dhanmondi 4 field, groups of young cricketers were found ready to talk about their expectations as well. “The Tigers are fierce this time!” remarks Ratnak Shaha, a young cricket player of the Bangladeshi Under-Fifteen cricket team. “I am hoping for a good match, be it India or anyone they are standing up against,” Shaha adds more on the formation of the team. “I think Shakib Al Hasan should be back as the captain,” he says. “His approach to the game is very aggressive, and he has a very good judgement, which is vital when you are in the field and the pressure is building. I believe he is in a very good form and most importantly he is fit, while Mashrafi on the other hand stays injured most of the times. And a captain should always be available for his team, which Mashrafi fails to do from time to time."

Shojib, a student of Government Laboratory High School and also a cricket fanatic usually found playing the game in Dhanmondi, is highly excited about the World Cup. “I am looking forward to watch the match between Bangladesh and India,” he says. “The new comers in our team are improving very fast and are ready to put up with the challenge.”

Yet another young cricket lover, Alavi, a student of Scholars School and College, is very excited about the World Cup as well. He wants to see the Tigers at least in the semi finals this time. “My favourite player is Shakib Al Hasan,” he says. “I want to see him beat the opponents! I want to go to the stadium and watch the game with my family and friends.”

Going back to Queens Park Oval, 2007, did Mushfiq make his ground? With 10 balls remaining Mushfiq tucks the ball to a safe zone and runs for it! He makes it and Bangladesh wins the momentous match against India with 6 wickets in hand and 9 balls to spare. This is the state of confidence we want back from the Tigers. And from the nation, we want support, passion and faith. For now, let us keep our fingers crossed and hope that the Tigers stay in shape, both physically and in spirit.

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