First-person reports from the stands
Choice of game
Two of the lower-ranked teams playing against each other - I found that interesting. The smaller the difference in rank, the larger the promise of greater entertainment. Plus, Bangladesh were playing at home and I hadn't enjoyed that in a while, I just had to be there.
If you are a Bangladesh fan, there are few places in the world where you can have as much fun as in the Shere Bangla National Stadium. There is nothing like being part of the crowd that gets behind their home team, every step of the way.
It was a fast-paced first day. More than 65% of the runs were scored in boundaries. Newbie Marshall Ayub played some copybook drives through the covers before losing his concentration. The in-form Mominul Haque started well too. But the key performer for the day had to be Tamim Iqbal, who seemed to regain some of his lost rhythm. He is often criticized for playing too many shots in Test matches, but I was happy to see him play his natural game. He played a variety of shots, including hooks, pulls and drives that were pleasing to the eye. Five more runs though would have made me a very happy girl.
One thing I'd have changed
The rain poured down heavily during the tea break with no signs of letting up, as is often the case in Dhaka. As much as I disliked going home after only 54 overs of play, nothing beat the crushing disappointment I felt when Tamim got out at 95.
There were some beautiful shots on display through the day, but the top one would have to be Ayub's first boundary - a beautiful drive through the covers for four. It made me go "wow" because nothing is more exciting than seeing a glimmer of promise in a young player.
The stands were sparsely filled at the start of the game. But by the end of the morning session, the southern, eastern and northern stands were packed. It was a very impressive turnout for the first day of a test match.
The day started with some fluid batting from the home team, and the lively Mirpur crowd started their party. Chants of Bangladesh and Tamim began in the eastern galleries and soon it caught on in the other stands. Every time a new batsman walked out to bad, the crowd roared. Shakib Al Hasan had only to score a boundary for the entire stadium to start roaring his name. Even when the run flow stalled for a while, the crowd was not quiet. Every now and then the Mexican wave and chants of Bangladesh went around.
Every other person in the crowd had taken it upon themselves to critique the game and pass loud comments. Most of it however was hopelessly pessimistic. Bangladeshis love expecting the worst but in their hearts hold the highest of hopes for their tigers. As Tamim batted into his nineties, most of us went ecstatic but there were a few who spelt out the worst possible outcomes.
Alas, the critics words came true when Tamim fell on 95, and the crowd's overwhelming disappointment was palpable.
Fancy dress index
Ever since the home series victory against West Indies, the tiger has become a popular mascot in the stands. The man who began the trend, Shoaib, was present as were many others who had started to follow his style. Some had painted their entire bodies in yellow and black stripes, complete with Bangladesh flag bandanas on their heads. They provide an entertaining sight, and a lot of people line up to take pictures with them.
Considering some of the beautiful strokeplay that were on display today, I would like to say that the quality of cricket was high. But the truth is that there were far too many shots played and a few too many wickets lost. Test matches being a test of temperament, I would have to say that Bangladesh had fallen just a little behind. New Zealand bowled consistently, but it would be safe to say that their successes were mainly due to the follies of the Bangladeshis.
The atmosphere however was absolutely wonderful. One could hardly ask for anything more on a weekday. The rain did spoil the party, but it was not too much of a disappointment for the average Bangladeshi, since rain in this country is never a surprise. I'll give this day a rating of 7 on 10.
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