Mash, Tamim take Scenic route
Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza and Tamim Iqbal were the last two members of the squad to reach the Scenic Hotel in Napier to join the team after a car journey of over six hours from Auckland yesterday.
It was the fear of flying in a small aircraft that compelled Tamim and Mashrafe to take the scenic route southeast from Auckland, where they reached Sunday and made the drive the following day.
The size of the aircraft did not much bother two other members of the side, Rubel Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin, who reached Christchurch yesterday and changed flights in Wellington before finally arriving in Napier.
The city on New Zealand's eastern coast is currently preparing for the famous annual Art Deco Festival, to be held from February 13 to 17, which has its roots in a massive 7.9 Richter scale earthquake that destroyed most of the commercial heart of Napier on February 3, 1931.
The city was rebuilt in 1930s fashion and by the end of the decade Napier was the newest city carrying, and the Art Deco is held to celebrate the courage the city displayed during those hard times.
It is undoubtedly the best time for the city to host the first match of the three-match ODI series between New Zealand and Bangladesh, but for journalists travelling from Bangladesh it was a hassle to find accommodation, which at the moment is quite expensive.
Back at the Scenic Hotel, where the cricketers spent a rest day yesterday ahead of the first game tomorrow at McLean Park, Mahmudullah Riyad was roaming around the hotel lobby and was the first to welcome Mashrafe and Tamim when they reached yesterday afternoon.
In just a couple of hours, Mashrafe was outside the hotel again to meet his 2003 World Cup teammate, former Bangladesh opener Al Shahriar Rokon, who has been living in Napier for the past few years.
Famous for his love of 'adda' (chatting), Mashrafe immediately engaged Rokon and a few other expatriates in a lively conversation, answering queries from fans who eager to know about his experience of joining politics, Tigers' chances of winning their first ever international game against New Zealand in their own backyard, and many other topics.
When this journalist asked Mahmudullah about the unorthodox bowling action that he employed during warm-up match against New Zealand XI on Sunday, he said with a big smile: "Actually, I try that bowling action jokingly in the nets but that day a few of my teammates asked me to bowl with that action just once in the practice game, and I did it."
Tamim soon joined in the adda and shared his fear of flying in small aircrafts and to make him more uncomfortable, this journalist reminded him that the team would have to change flights in Wellington, which is notoriously windy, for the second ODI in Christchurch.
"I am not going to change flights. that too in Wellington. I would much rather make the journey by road or take a direct flight," Tamim said.
By then Sabbir Rahman, Liton Das, Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar and Shadman Islam returned to the hotel after dinner at a nearby Turkish restaurant in a relaxed mood.
Missing out, of course, was Shakib Al Hasan who was injured just before the crucial tour of New Zealand. It was a big blow for Bangladesh but with the full squad now in New Zealand, and heart of the team in Mashrafe present, the Tigers seems relaxed and confident of taking on the hosts as the preparation for the upcoming ICC World Cup in England truly gets underway.