Festive Sylhet embraces relaxed Tigers
Around hundred people, including men, women and children, were seen waiting yesterday outside the Grand Sylhet hotel located near the airport road, where Bangladesh cricket team had checked in for the ongoing T20I series against Afghanistan.
Similar scenes were also witnessed inside the hotel premises as forty to fifty had been patiently waiting for a lifetime opportunity to snap a selfie with their heroes.
Around 3pm, pacer Shoriful Islam -- who hit the winning runs for the Tigers as they clinched a dramatic two-wicket win over Afghanistan in the first T20I on Friday -- returned to the team hotel with his wife after a trip to Ratargul swamp forest, 26 km from the Sylhet city.
Shoriful and teammates enjoyed a well-deserved day off, without official training or any media activity, yesterday.
Half hour later, skipper Shakib Al Hasan, dressed in a white t-shirt, black trouser, and a cap, was seen heading out from the lobby. The star cricketer hopped in to a van and went out for a brief outing.
The mood in the Tigers camp was relaxed at the team hotel. On the other hand, a contrasting atmosphere pervaded among the visitors as Rashid Khan and his troops spent time training at the Sylhet International Cricket stadium, focused on avoiding a series loss today.
The crowd outside the hotel were unable to get a chance to see their beloved cricketers up close, but the craze and buzz in the northeastern region of the country remains at its peak; especially following a brilliant show from the home side.
The current T20I series has been the talk of the town in Sylhet, where Bangladesh registered their first win in the shortest format after three outings here so far.
Meanwhile, there were long queues outside the ticket booth of the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium (SICS) yesterday. The fans are again expected to flock in numbers to support the Tigers in the second T20I today.
The atmosphere at the SICS was no short of electrifying on Friday. Around a twenty-thousand capacity crowd witnessed the game at the picturesque venue, while at least more than a thousand without tickets had hovered along the stadium's periphery.
Since the Tigers do not get to play international cricket that often in Sylhet, the locals have voiced their demand of seeing more matches getting staged here in future.
With a high demand for tickets and the subsequent overwhelming situations during matches, the authorities have to prepare to constantly stay on their toes to maintain a huge crowd outside the venue.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board director and chairman of the women's wing department, Shafiul Alam Chowdhury Nadel, urged to have more matches in Sylhet in order to bring commonality among the hyper-enthusiastic fans in Sylhet.
"Since we don't get the opportunity to host more matches, the craze among the supporters skyrockets whenever there is a series in Sylhet. The capacity of the stadium is for around twenty-thousand spectators, and we distribute tickets up to eighteen-and-half thousand," said Nadel.
"Since we also have the grass bank, we try to release around two-thousand tickets for the security purpose.
"Considering the structure of the stadium premises, if you notice, there are so many open spaces from which the spectators who don't purchase tickets try to get in illegally. We are trying to stop them and also want more matches in order to bring some stability among the fans when it comes to their craze for cricket."