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     Volume 4 Issue 27 | December 31, 2004 |

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A Belief Rediscovered


Bangla-desh! Bangla-desh!
The night air was rent asunder with chants that symbolised unrestrained emotions and harmony among the people.

Once again a joy, this one significantly in this month of our glorious victory 33 years ago, has done wonders to our national pride and morale.

There were dancing in the streets, drumbeats, fireworks, sweets, flower petals and abundant merriment--elements that had deserted us as a nation for quite sometime. And that is, not to speak only in the sporting arena.

The eruption of the mountain of joy after beating India handsomely with more than two overs to spare in our thrilling 100th ODI outing on December 26 reveals anew how wonderful the people of Bangladesh are. How little it can take to make the people of this blessed country contented! If only our political leaders would understand and take lessons…

For so long have we been the butt of endless criticism that we required a victory against one of the giants. Arguably the best one-day batting side in the world had rested two of their top performers for the match, but then Sachin Tendulkar has not been in the nick for sometime and there are days when Rahul Dravid falters. Furthermore, that decision was taken by India, who definitely did not enter the packed Big Bowl with the intention of losing an ODI.

The fact that our boys went out there to win was amply exhibited by the flair of Aftab Ahmed with the bat and that last Indian wicket throw, the grit of MoM Mashrafee-bin-Mortuza as a tailender, a bowler and a fieldsman, the athleticism of Rajin Saleh to dismiss Mohammad Kaif and turn the match, the wisdom of skipper Habibul Bashar to maintain an attacking field to mount the pressure, the guile with which Khaled Mahmud removed Sourav Ganguly, and the all-out effort of every fielder till the fall of the mighty Indians.

Bashar's pre-match statement that the 11-run defeat at Chittagong in the previous ODI gave signs that the Indians were not unbeatable proved to be prophetic. One had only hoped that his counterpart Ganguly could have been more generous with his comments in analysing their close call at the M.A. Aziz stadium.

Now that the boys know they can do it, we shall hope for more consistency particularly with the bat. One Ashraful assault in one match, a Bashar blitz in another and an Aftab attack in yet another shall have to be transformed into three Bashars, Ashrafuls and Aftabs in one single match. You can then sit back and watch the rest of the world not associating us with only floods, bomb blasts, terrorism and political mayhem.

The celebrations last Sunday would have carried on all night but for the decider the following Monday. So it was early to bed. The SWM's deadline, albeit extended, means this piece has to be filed even before the first ball is delivered in the 3rd ODI at the Bangabandhu and we have no way of knowing the outcome. But there shall be celebrations at the end of the match because, if not anything else, we have compelled by our performance, to make India sit up and think, to force India to field their best. There is no room for complacency against Bangladesh. That I believe is a big for us.

Whatever happens Monday this maiden victory against India shall remain memorable as the first on home soil and that too against the largest cricketing nation in the world. Isn't it nice to know that a nation of about 15 crore has humbled one with one billion inhabitants?

Let this win be a curtain raiser of more beautiful things to come. Let it be a lesson, an inspiration, of rediscovering ourselves in not only cricket but in other arenas as well. We can do it if only we believe we can.

Thank you guys for a wonderful New Year's present. Thank you chaps for letting the world know through your determined outing and victorious emergence that whatever the struggle, whoever the adversary, the Bangalee never lowers his head. … kobhu matha noabar noy!

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