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Cricket World Cup: Bangladeshis toast win over England

Bangladesh v England, Cricket World Cup 2011

England match errors aid shock Bangladesh win

By Waliur Rahman
BBC Bangla, Dhaka

For those who were at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhdury stadium in Chittagong, or even those watching on television, there were no dull moments.

The World Cup match between co-hosts Bangladesh and visitors England on Friday was a dramatic and nail-biting game that changed colours like a chameleon.

Bangladesh had gone in to face one of the strongest teams in the tournament on the back of a humiliating defeat by West Indies when their entire battling line-up could only manage 58 runs - the lowest score by a Test nation in a World Cup match.

The stark contrast here, along with some sensational performances by the local boys, made the match a memorable one for Bangladeshis.

They handled the pressure well, they were courageous. Finally it's a dramatic win
Former Bangladesh skipper Raquibul Hasan

Skipper Shakib al Hasan decided to bowl first after winning the toss, despite the fact that he was bitterly criticised by former players when he put India into bat first in the tournament's opening match, which they lost by five wickets.

But his bowlers, dominated by the spinners, responded well in a do-or-die match for Bangladesh, sending three top order English batsmen to the pavilion with only 53 runs on the board.

Speaking to the BBC, former national team captain Khaled Mashhud even praised the decision of opting to field first.

"Sending the England team to bat first on a pitch like this was a very good decision and it resulted in some early wickets," he said.

But then Jonathon Trott and Eoin Morgan stood tall on a sluggish track and it looked like the match was about to slip out of Bangladesh's hands.

However, Naeem Islam struck with his spin and removed Morgan to end a 109-run partnership.

England could manage only 225 and Bangladesh's hopes of victory - and the dreams of 160 million people eager to see their team reach the quarter-finals - were still alive.

The home team, in reply, started well with a 50-run opening partnership and at that point it seemed they were going to beat England easily.

But the colour changed quickly. Three wickets fell with the score at only 73, before captain Hasan and opener Imrul Kayes applied the emergency brake.

The team, however, faltered again. Kayes tried to take a second run that was not there, ending an assuring partnership for Bangladesh.

They were collapsing in a heap - eight wickets down with 57 runs still needed.

"I thought we had lost the game," Hasan said after the match.

But then came a turn-around like nothing seen since the country was given Test status a decade ago.

Bangladeshis celebrate
Bangladeshis celebrated across the country on Friday

When the eighth wicket fell, spectators booed the players and started to leave the stadium. Those who left missed one of the greatest finishes Bangladesh have ever taken part in.

A few fortunate ones rushed back to the galleries as number 10 batsman Shafiul Islam hit a six off Ajmal Shahzad.

"Finally it's a dramatic win," said former Bangladesh captain Raquibul Hasan after Mahmudullah hit the winning run. "Bangladesh deserved it."

Bangladesh's tendency to collapse under pressure is well-known, so England had a real chance to win the match.

"That didn't happen because of the 50-plus run partnership between Shafiul and Mahmudullah," Raquibul added. "They handled the pressure well, they were courageous."

The spectacular win sent thousands of fans into wild jubilation, both in the stadium in Chittagong, in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka and across the country.

"I'm so excited that I cannot talk now," said Mahbubul Alam, a capital market investor, as he left the stadium.

Shipping executive Syed Mohammad Tarique said it was his most memorable day because Bangladesh had beaten the country that invented cricket. "Unbelievable," he told the BBC.

Among the spectators was Eva Nafees, the sister-in-law of Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal. She said she would never forget the day.

"People's love and prayers helped the team win," she said.

Islam and Mahmudullah celebrate
Islam and Mahmudullah celebrate Bangladesh's victory

Dhaka residents were just as excited with the win. Dhaka University campus, where several thousand people had watched the match on giant screens, was the centre of celebrations.

Girls and boys waved flags from motorbikes, banging drums and blowing vuvuzelas in the middle of the night as people shouted: "Bangladesh, Bangladesh … Shafiul is the real hero."

It is not common for girls to celebrate on Dhaka streets in the middle of the night but one who came out declared: "I cannot express how good I'm feeling now.

"The win is sweeter for me because I was frustrated at one point when the wickets were falling like anything."

Those who could not come out celebrated at home. One man wrote on his Facebook page: "My kids went to the rooftop and screamed at the tops of their voices. The sound of vuvuzelas even sounded sweeter tonight. Bravo Tigers."

Bangladeshi fans are often criticised for their extreme acts. After the defeat by West Indies, a section of angry fans stoned the visiting team's bus believing it belonged to the Bangladesh team. Captain Hasan's home was also stoned.

But after the England match, both teams were stranded at the stadium for around four hours as thousands of cheering fans turned up for an impromptu carnival, blocking traffic in the roads leading to the teams' hotel in the process.

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see also
Bangladesh rally to shock England
11 Mar 11 |  England
Strauss rues 'missed opportunity'
12 Mar 11 |  England
Bangladesh v England as it happened
11 Mar 11 |  England
Hosts Bangladesh edge past Irish
25 Feb 11 |  Cricket

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