Tigers gatecrash Tendulkar's party
Sachin Tendulkar's more than one-year wait for the much-hyped hundredth hundred finally ended yesterday at Mirpur, but a party that was very much supposed to be the Little Master's was crashed spectacularly by a brave Bangladesh side who pulled off a magnificent five-wicket victory in their Asia Cup encounter at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
For the capacity crowd who had packed into the stadium on a Friday, it was a case of double delight as they found them selves witness to the most rarest of milestones and then followed it up with the slightly less rare joy of a Bangladesh victory.
It was unfortunate for Sachin, but there were some whispered mentions that the great man's surprisingly slow approach stopped the Indians posting a target of more than three hundred on a placid wicket. Tendulkar countered by saying that the wicket was slow and difficult to bat on, but there were no signs of the same as Tamim Iqbal, Jahurul Islam, Nasir Hossain, Shakib Al Hasan and most spectacularly captain Mushfiqur Rahim batted with aplomb to chase down India's 289 with four balls to spare.
Vice-captain Mahmudullah Riyad played a beautiful cover drive against pacer Ashoke Dinda to ignite the celebrations in front of a full-house stadium but it was his captain Mushfiqur who led his team from the front during his 25-ball 46 that contained three fours and as many sixes after third umpire Sri Lankan Ruchira Palliyaguruge stunned the capacity crowd by sending Shakib Al Hasan back to the pavilion.
The TV replays were inconclusive and where the benefit of the doubt should have gone to the batsman, Shakib was perhaps unlucky to be given out. Many became nervous expecting another close defeat after losing against Pakistan but Mushfiqur showed real character to ensure the memorable victory.
The second wicket 113-run partnership between Tamim Iqbal (70 off 99 balls) and Jahurul Islam (53 off 68 balls) gave the foundation but the win looked unlikely with the increasing run rate of over eight runs per over. But Shakib again took charge to change the momentum.
The left-hander revived the hope smashing two fours and a six in the 37th over against Dinda and he not only rotated the strike with another hero Nasir Hossain, who continued his impressive run making 54 off 58 balls with five fours, but also punished the ordinary Indian attack.
And then it was the story of Mushfiqur who initiated the final blow smashing two sixes against Irfan Pathan to secure 19 runs in the 47th over leaving to score 16 runs from last two overs.
The little right-hander then punched pacer Praveen Kumar in the penultimate over hitiing one boundary from a no-ball and a six to secure 14 runs that almost completed the great victory.
But the first half of the day belonged deservedly to Tendulkar. It came as a great relief for the little master as the unprecedented landmark was achieved after 33 international innings without a hundred. It was Tendulkar's first ODI hundred against Bangladesh and 49th ODI century to go with his 51 Test hundreds.
The Indian innings was built on Tendulkar's hundred and two fifties from Virat Kohli (66) and Suresh Riana (51) but the master blaster took the all attention yesterday.
It was one of his slower hundreds, as he played 138 balls to reach the three digit mark and he looked subdued after achieving the rare feat as the hype began during last year's World Cup, when two hundreds in the group stages put him on 99 international hundreds.
He however failed to get to three figures on India's tour of England, the home series against West Indies and the tour of Australia, and has finally achieved the feat in Bangladesh.
The Bangladeshi fans were understandably partisan until the legend reached 99. But then they gave a standing ovation to the Little Master to show a great spirit towards the game.
In the end it was a fantastic day for cricket.
ZILLUR, HASINA, KHALEDA CONGRATULATE
President Mohammad Zillur Rahman, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Begum Khaleda Zia congratulated the Bangladesh national cricket team on their victory over India in the Asia Cup yesterday.
In an instant reaction, Sheikh Hasina said: "It's a new milestone for Bangladesh cricket as the Tigers defeated the team who are the current world champions."
Prime minister's special assistant (media) Mahabubul Hoque Shakil informed that Sheikh Hasina along with her sister Sheikh Rehana watched the match on TV at her Gono Bhaban residence. She later celebrated the victory by distributing sweets among officials and staff of Gono Bhaban.
Khaleda Zia congratulated the team and also thanked the coach and other officials of the team in her message.