First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
It wasn't just that Twenty20s aren't held in Dhaka often, but also this match turned out to be scheduled on my off day, which meant I has a chance to overwrite the bitter World Cup memories of an insanely-coveted ticket to a fixture between these two sides which ended in one of the worst days in my sport-watching life.
Face-off you relished
After hitting two sixes off his first three deliveries, Marlon Samuels looked set for a big innings. But in the ninth over Abdur Razzak returned and tied him down him for the first three balls, then bowled a dot ball to the solid-striking Lendl Simmons. Off the fifth, Simmons broke free with a six over long-on. Razzak responded by bowling a skidder to trap Simmons lbw.
Samuels was a standout with bat and ball, but his awesome effort was undone by Mushfiqur Rahim, who made his captaincy debut in much the same way an experienced movie director delivers a box-office hit. For 35 overs he was just one of the 22 cast members, but in the closing sequence he emerged out of nowhere, with nerves of titanium and the heart of a Spartan, sabre-swinging his way out of what strikingly resembled a quicksand, to lead Bangladesh to a fantastic triumph.
One thing I'd have changed
The lack of power-hitting - the reason T20s draw big crowds - was disappointing.
Bangladesh needed 20 off the last two overs, with Mushfiqur and the 19-year-old Nasir Hossain batting. Hossain, whose playbook until then seemed to be limited to "get your skipper on strike", thumped a nervy Carlos Brathwaite over long-on to give the momentum back with the home team. The stadium erupted, albeit with a tinge of amused surprise.
Shakib Al Hasan was at the edge of the midwicket boundary for a large portion of the first innings, and looked incredibly agile. He outran fielders closer to the ball, walked in at delivery time with his body flexed and ready to spring, and if he was on his toes any more he might as well have been on a ballet floor. The crowd loved it.
Shot of the day
Samuels got off the mark with an audacious thwack for six off Rubel Hossain.
Bangladesh is a country where you can schedule a match at 2am and people will turn up. The stands were packed, the people were colourful and loud. Except for the brief period when Bangladesh were staring down the wrong end of the barrel, the stadium pulsated. The crowd was understandably partisan but none of the good strokes from the Caribbean batsmen went unacknowledged.
The green and red witch hats which became popular during the World Cup were everywhere, but one man stood out for painting his torso in green-and-red stripes, and having "Ashraful" written in bold yellow caps across his chest, and a fierce-looking tiger face on his back. Apart from being a great get-up for a cricket match, it apparently also gets girls to take pictures with you. Who would've thought?
The otherwise-sloppy DJ got one song right. With Bangladesh needing 54 off six overs with five wickets remaining, and two featherweight batsmen in Mushfiqur and Naeem Islam at the crease, the speakers blasted "Baby, are you down, down, down, down, down?" Sadly, not a lot of people at the stands picked it up since those were tense moments.
Marks out of 10
Barring the scoring rate of both sides, the match should get an easy 8 and maybe a bonus point if you watched it from a Bangladesh perspective.
The Bangladeshi bowling and fielding effort deserved a 9, and for about 14 overs into the second innings, West Indies deserved the same. Marlon Samuels would get 9+ from me, but Mushfiqur's 26-ball 41, under immense pressure and without substantial support at the other end, equalled his effort. The atmosphere was electric, the weather fine and cool, with an absolutely gorgeous full moon that Buddhists celebrated as "Pravarana Purnima".
Behind the jubilation and celebration, there was, on each Bangladesh fan's face, a sense of relief, on getting past the nightmares of the 58 all out World Cup game. The trouble for tickets and the immense traffic congestion before and after the match were small prices to pay to have a nasty ghost exorcised.
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