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Bangladesh's World Cup party

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 Group B: Bangladesh v West Indies
Venue: Mirpur Date: Friday, 4 March (0900 GMT)
Tournament dates: 19 February-2 April Venues: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
Coverage: Highlights on BBC TV (see listings), Red Button & BBC Sport website at 2200 GMT every day (UK users only); Live Test Match Special commentary (BBC 5 live sports extra, online, some games also on BBC Radio 4 LW) and live text commentary on England matches and selected others; Live on Sky Sports

Bangladesh fans wave the flag
The Bangladeshi flag has been flying high all around the country

By Tim Peach
BBC Radio 5 live producer

"Cricket is like a religion on the subcontinent". Each time I heard this ahead of my first trip out here for the World Cup, I would roll my eyes at the hackneyed cliche.

But it goes quite far in describing just how obsessed by cricket people are out here - few places more so than in Dhaka.

Skyscrapers have 40-foot Bangladesh flags flying down the side. The green national shirts are on sale in almost every shop. Not only are the waiters in my hotel dressed in either full Bangladesh kit or as umpires, but they even serve food on cricket bats.

And right now everyone is talking about the game against the West Indies at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on Friday.

I saw break-dancing and fire-breathing in the street - all accompanied by a cacophony of horns, whistles, shouts and screams

This past week, I've spoken to an architect who was nervous about the vagaries of Ravi Rampaul's medium pace and a charity worker about the best way of dismissing Chris Gayle.

They're not the only ones. The Bangladeshi Prime Minister has even had discussions in the cabinet about whether Shakib Al Hasan made the right decision on winning the toss against India.

A party of extraordinary proportions awaits if Bangladesh earn their second win of the tournament based on the scenes of jubilation I witnessed after the Tigers' 27-run victory over Ireland.

They will stay with me for the rest of my life.

As Junaid Siddique caught Boyd Rankin to win the match, the capacity crowd at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium let out a roar that I have never known at a cricket match before.

I saw armed guards jumping up and down and hugging each other. Policemen were high-fiving - the party was beginning.

I didn't get out of the ground until about two hours after the winning wicket and the streets of Dhaka were still heaving with people high on euphoria.

Fans were dancing on the roofs of cars and hanging out of windows. I saw break-dancing and fire-breathing in the street - all accompanied by a cacophony of horns, whistles, shouts and screams. Even our old friend the vuvuzela reared its head.

Promising cricketer Sara Marandi
Cricket has turned Sara's life around

You couldn't help but smile at the unconfined joy being shown by so many people, young and old, but at the back of my mind was the same thought - "they've beaten Ireland. Imagine what it'd be like if they actually won the thing".

The scenes were repeated not just in the capital, but in towns and villages across the nation, though things were put in perspective when it was reported a few days later that one 14-year-old was killed when a truck toppled over in north Dhaka.

More than one person here has described the World Cup as 'the biggest event in Bangladesh since independence in 1971'.

The truth is, since then, this nation of 160 million people has had very little to celebrate, with constant flooding and crippling poverty.

They are not the only issues facing the country - women's rights are being fought for in a country where the female literacy rate is just 45% and child marriage is a constant problem.

I have been to see Sara Marandi at the Bangladesh Institute of Sports. She's from a village in the north of Bangladesh and has won a 45-day training scholarship after impressing as an all-rounder in a local tournament.

Her parents were trying to arrange a marriage for her; if it hadn't been for cricket, she thinks she would be expecting her first child now.

Sara is just 14. You'll be able to hear from her during the interval of the Bangladesh and West Indies match on Friday on TMS, where you can hear full commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra from 0815 GMT with our team of Simon Mann, Tony Cozier, Simon Hughes and Shamim Chowdhury, alongside Ian Bishop and Athar Ali Khan.

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see also
Hosts Bangladesh edge past Irish
25 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Porterfield laments Irish batting
25 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup as it happened
25 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Superb Sehwag inspires India win
19 Feb 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011 squads
19 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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