Tigers become booters for a day
The England cricket team's decision to tour Bangladesh provided much relief for a nation scarred by recent events and starved of cricket, but one area of the capital got an extra-special treat yesterday.
The raucous roars reaching the living rooms of Banani DOHS yesterday evening may have fooled the residents into thinking that Argentina were playing Brazil in the World Cup in a parallel universe that had somehow found a wormhole into this one, or that the Tigers had suddenly started playing an unscheduled cricket match against India and were on the verge of a famous win.
Reality was somewhere in between.
The members of the Bangladesh cricket team, all but one or two of them, had come to the Banani DOHS field to partake in a local football tournament, and the cheers were for the goals they were scoring. Not that they were scoring a lot, at first at least.
The national players played two matches, losing the first game to DOHS United -- a team made up mostly of youngsters -- 2-1, the solitary Tiger goal having come off the boot of Soumya Sarkar. Playing against the 30-somethings of the Footy Hags however, the Tigers roared back with a 4-1 win. Anamul Haque scored a brace while Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain hit one each.
To the delight of the few hundred who lined the boundary of the field of play, the match was an intense affair.
Shakib seemed to be running the show, reacting animatedly from the right wing every time his fellow Tigers squandered an opportunity to get even. On the left wing, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza was, as usual, giving it his all while Nasir was a livewire running to and fro. Sabbir Rahman, a major attraction for autograph and selfie seekers after the match, was mostly cleaning up in defence. Behind him Nurul Hasan traded his wicket-keeping gloves for goal-keeping ones.
At one point Mashrafe's searing shot missed the post, but smashed into a little boy wearing a Neymar jersey. “Hey, Neymar! You okay?” a concerned Mashrafe called out to the boy as he was walking away, and upon receiving confirmation that the little tyro was indeed alright, the Narail express tousled his hair to generous applause.
There was one person seemingly immune to the intensity of his national teammates -- Tamim Iqbal. The hard-hitting opener was on the touchline, erupting into wild celebrations every time his charges scored and making the atmosphere more festive than it already was.
“As a manager I have left [Jose] Mourinho behind,” he told The Daily Star later last evening. Whether he did in fact surpass the new Manchester United coach is anyone's guess; he did however cause a stoppage in play when he wandered onto the field and intercepted a ball during play.11