Reminiscence: My first match | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:31 AM, April 06, 2020

Reminiscence: My first match

In these times of social distancing, we must be safe while remembering that we do not get too used to the world being at a standstill. We were meant to go watch matches together, agree with a few of our neighbours and disagree with the rest. So, we are taking turns at The Daily Star Sport talking about our first live experience at a sports venue. Atique Anam from Dhaka, 1988

The first match I watched live from a venue, unless my memory deceives me, was the India v Pakistan cricket match during the 1988 Wills Asia Cup in Dhaka.

It was probably one of the first international cricket tournaments to take place in Dhaka, and the excitement regarding the match and the tournament as a whole, was quite huge.

I have often wondered as to why that match in particular pops up in my memories so often whereas an Abahani v Mohammedan football match, which was as big in those days and would take place much more frequently, could have been my first memories of a match that I watched live.

Finding no logical answer, I have resigned myself to believe that such a high-voltage Dhaka derby might not have been deemed safe for me at that age.

But cricket, too, was a very popular game, and since international cricket was a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing in those days, attending it was worth every penny. Digging memory cells, I realise how excited I was about the prospect of watching the biggest cricket stars of that time.

We had taken full-fledged preparations beforehand, tickets bought days ahead, food prepared for the outing, and last but not least, placards drawn showing our allegiance to a certain team, with one particular placard screaming about a top-order batsman who was in murderous form in those days.

I, along with my father, one elder brother and a cricket-crazy neighbour, made it into the Dhaka Stadium (the present day BNS) through throngs of people very early in the morning.

For me it felt like a picnic, except for the fact the weather was truly unforgiving. And except for the fact that there was a battle going on out in the middle -- a battle between men in whites from two neighbouring rivals, with bat and ball in their hands and pads and gloves for armour.

Sat on one of the upper tiers of the general gallery, with a sideways view of the pitch, we watched the game for long hours and immersed ourselves in the Mexican waves that made it round the galleries every now and then.

We were baked in the scorching heat for hours, which was only a small sacrifice for watching live sports in those days. People from that generation would surely remember the lengths they would go to get the grainiest of TV signals for matches played across the border.

There must have been good strokes played, great bowling and fielding efforts made during the course of that game, but I can hardly recall any of those as I was too overwhelmed by the whole atmosphere.

Now when asked about writing for the column "Reminiscence: My first match," the first thing I did was look up on Google and go through the scorecard, finding to my amusement that the batsman I had carried a placard about, who had scored heavily throughout the tournament, just happened to have a rare failure on that very day.

I looked for pictures of that match on the internet to invoke memories of any passage of play or any single act -- a huge six, a fast yorker or a brilliant runout -- but in vain. But I do remember I went back home that day very satisfied; probably richer from that experience.

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