Former captains praise brave new generation
Former Bangladesh captains have lavished praise on Bangladesh's victory over India in their World Cup opener at Port-of-Spain. The manner in which Bangladesh bowled, batted and fielded in a five-wicket win was an inspiration, and a strong indication that this side are minnows no more, feel three captains who have seen Bangladesh cricket at different stages.
Raqibul Hasan, who captained Bangladesh during their participation in the ICC Trophy in 1979 and 1982, felt this performance was the most comprehensive he had seen. "There had been ups and downs in the matches we has won previously against the giants. But it was not the case against India because we controlled the proceedings from the very beginning," he told The Daily Star. "I got emotional not only because Bangladesh won a match against a formidable side but the way they achieved it was incredible. It was truly a professional performance by the boys. I feel fortunate as a former captain that I could see my team playing the game in such a fashion."
Raqibul, 54, strongly disagreed that it was an 'upset' as he believed Bangladesh were now capable of winning on a consistent basis. "Many are trying to term it as an upset: Why?" he asked. "I request them not to use this word to denounce the performance or strength of the team. Had we not beaten teams like India, Australia, Sri Lanka or Pakistan in the past, it would have been accepted."
He gave the example of Saqibul Hasan, the young allrounder, who hit a composed 53 in the successful run chase: "Can you imagine we have a player like Saqib, who holds an average over 50?"
Akram Khan, who captained in 15 of his 44 one-day appearances, watched the game with his family in Chittagong and took heart from rookie opener Tamil Iqbal's aggressive half-century. "We were simply crying when Tamim was batting because my elder brother [the late Iqbal Khan] would have been the happiest man to see his beloved son helping Bangladesh win a World Cup match against a team like India," he said. "I was involved in Bangladesh's few victories and witnessed some wins previously but it was something new to me."
Akram, who led Bangladesh to a historic ICC Trophy triumph in 1997, felt the winds of change had blown over. "If Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza] had broken the backbone of the Indian team, Tamim hammered the final nail in the coffin with dazzling strokeplay. I can assure you that we did not have the courage in our generation to play cricket like this."
Khan admitted he had erred in judging Mushfiqur Rahim, the young wicketkeeper-batsman, whose unbeaten 56 helped Bangladesh chase down 192 against India. "I made a mistake by criticising the selectors. What a cool customer he [Mushfiqur] is. I must say that the selectors were right. Actually, the young guys' attitude towards the game is totally different from our generation."
Khaled Mahmud, the former allrounder who captained in nine Tests and starred in Bangladesh's 1999 World Cup victory against Pakistan, said he would love to see the team progress further. "Why not make Sri Lanka the next target? It's true the Lankans play better under pressure and are also in good form. But nothing looks impossible for the Bangladesh team now after wins against India and New Zealand [in a warm-up match].
"The cricket we played in the first game is simply outstanding. The confident cricket from the young breed actually makes the difference. I always love to see Tamim playing that way."
Bangladesh's next World Cup match is against Sri Lanka on March 21 in Trinidad.