In the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup, we take a look back on World Cups past through the eyes of Bangladesh’s former World Cup stars. Khaled Mahmud featured in the 1999 and 2003 World Cups for Bangladesh and also captained the Tigers in 15 ODIs and nine Tests. Khaled’s heroics brought Bangladesh a first success against a Test playing nation -- Pakistan -- in the 1999 World Cup and he shared his World Cup memories in an interview with The Daily Star’s Nabid Yeasin.
The Daily Star (TDS): You played the 1999 and 2003 World Cups so in your opinion, what is the difference between playing in a World Cup and any other normal tournament?
Khaled Mahmud (KM): If I think about our first World Cup, it was exciting. It was a different feeling, the best teams from all over the world were playing in the tournament. Any tournament for Bangladesh is important, be it a bilateral series or the World Cup. However, the World Cup is always a bit special because everyone has their eyes on it. The players always remain eager to perform well there.
TDS: The match against Pakistan, which we won, was the last match for us in the 1999 World Cup. Was there any special pep talk before the match?
KM: In fact, in a sense it was a match of great sorrow for us. We lost Gordon Greenidge in that match. He played a major role in the development of our cricket and he meant a lot to us. After the win, when we were celebrating, Gordon was not with us in the dressing room. Gordon was sent a letter from the Bangladesh Cricket Board in the middle of the tournament asking him to part ways with the team. However, even though he was rejected, Gordon was present on the field during that match. We actually met him during lunch and after that, he left. So there was no different plan or talks before the game but, in the pre-match huddle, Gordon told us that he believed in us and hoped that we would play our best cricket and give our best efforts on the field while also trying to enjoy the game.
TDS: What is your most memorable World Cup moment?
KM: Obviously, the match against Pakistan. To beat a strong team like Pakistan and to be named player-of-the-match was very special to me.
TDS: Do you have any funny or interesting stories of the World Cup?
KM: There’s an interesting story about the match against Pakistan. During that time we had a bowling coach, whose name I can’t recall. Before the game, when I was practicing in the nets, Biddut [Shahriar Hossain] played a very good shot off my delivery and I told him as much. After that our bowling coach walked up to me and said ‘will you even tell your opponents that they played a good shot in a match?’. I obviously replied that I wouldn’t do anything of the sort. Then the coach cautioned me against using bad language and also suggested that I should stare down and make eye contact with the opposition. So in the next game against Pakistan, while bowling to Wasim Akram, I made eye contact with him and no one can even imagine the type of sledging I received after that. Then, Wasim called Akram Khan, who was standing in the cover and said ‘tell your chotu [referring to me as chotu] that I will kill him’. Akram Khan then came to me and said to stop doing that but I still gave Wasim stares following each delivery. Soon after, Wasim was dismissed off Nannu bhai’s [Minhajul Abedin’s] delivery.
However, Wasim remembered the incident until they faced us again in an Asia Cup game and tried to take revenge. At that time, all of us were of similar height and I was actually dismissed off the first or second ball of [Abdur] Razzak. Wasim might not have noticed that and began searching for me, asking about me to the others while saying things like ‘where is chotu? Won’t he come to bat?’. I think their plan was to throw some bouncers at me when I go to bat but fortunately I guess I got dismissed earlier. So this was a very funny and interesting story of the World Cup. However, outside of game, Wasim used to give us tips and always tried to be very helpful.
TDS: To make it to the semifinal of this World Cup, Bangladesh need to beat five teams. What do you think, which five teams can we beat?
KM: This is a tough question but I think that Bangladesh should be able to defeat Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies even though these teams are all very good. We would then have to beat to big teams and it could be anyone. It may be New Zealand or Pakistan. We defeated New Zealand in the Champions Trophy before and also Pakistan a few times. I think it could be anyone, or even South Africa, who knows?