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March 18, 2007
A government ban on public gatherings was forgotten in Bangladesh as thousands of jubilant fans celebrated into the wee hours after the national cricket team's shock World Cup victory over India. Deafening sound broke the night silence as thousands roared and waved flags on the Dhaka University campus and elsewhere in the capital to celebrate the five-wicket win at Port-of-Spain.
Fakhruddin Ahmed, the head of the military-led government, joined the late-night crowd to congratulate the Bangladesh team on their historic feat. In a message to the team in the Caribbean, he praised the team's "consistency, determination and all-round performance in the field," a government statement said.
But fans that partied through the morning were more ecstatic. "We will be the world champions. The days of shame are over. It's time to show what our boys can do," said Harunur Rashid, a university student who watched the game on giant screens on the campus. Rashid and thousands of others joined an impromptu party in the heart of the Bangladesh capital, defying the interim government's ban on all marches and processions. "They marched through the areas in and around the campus. They were waving flags and chanting Bangladesh! Bangladesh!" Nizam Ahmed, a police officer, said.
"It's a rare day in our cricket history. So who cares if there is ban on processions?" said Rajib Ahsan, another student. "Even the police officers watched the matches in front of the giant screens the university has set up. They also celebrated this great victory."
Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January, when the country's president cancelled elections and stepped down as the head of the interim government. A military-backed new government took over and imposed the ban on processions, meetings, marches and rallies as part of the emergency measures. Millions of Bangladeshis stayed up into the wee hours of Sunday morning to watch the match being shown live from the Caribbean.
The government power company even conserved electricity for the night to ensure uninterrupted coverage. As the match progressed, many supporters said prayers for the team. "For any victory, there is always an element of luck. I prayed to Almighty God so that this luck factor does not conspire against us,' said Muktadeer Hossain, a bank teller.
Fans also held victory processions in the western Bangladesh town of Narail, hometown of man-of-the-match Mashrafe Mortaza, whose 4 for 38 helped bowl India out for just 191. The police also said there were impromptu late-night processions in Chittagong, the country's second biggest city and the hometown of 17-year-old Tamim Iqbal, who hit his maiden half-century in the match.
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