The famous Shibbari intersection of Khulna sports a colourful look on the eve of first-ever Test match in the city which starts at the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium today. Photo: Firoz Ahmed
Everybody wants to be a part of history when the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium becomes the seventh Test venue in Bangladesh. A full house is expected when Bangladesh take on West Indies in the second and final Test today as tickets for the first two days have been sold out.
The cricket-crazy fans in the south-western corner of the country last witnessed an international cricket match in November 2006 when the Tigers played against Zimbabwe at the same venue. The Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium is one of the five purpose-built cricket grounds established in the run-up to the 2004 Under-19 World Cup, and has been used infrequently for first-class matches.
But the obsession with cricket has been unwavering in Khulna, the proof of which lies in the number of top-class cricketers produced from this region over the years. The world's number one ODI all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan (Magura) and Rubel Hossain (Bagerhat) are two players in the current team who are from the Khulna Division.
The hosting of this Test match and the subsequent one-dayers over the next two weeks will only encourage the kids in the region to play cricket, and the enthusiasm is palpable as one walks around town. The main streets have been lit up with decorative lighting and crowds have lined up around the stadium as well as the team hotel trying to catch a glimpse of their favourite players.
And there's good news for these fans who have been craving international cricket in this region. The Met Office has said that chances of rain disrupting the historic match are minimal despite a cloudy afternoon which raised some concern. But rain will stay away, leaving an almost perfect setting for Khulna to host its first Test match.