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Great Moments

Much more than a win for the Tigers

When serene Northampton transformed into downtown Dhaka

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Khaled Mahmud celebrates victory against Pakistan, Northampton, May 31 1999

Khaled Mahmud's dibbly-dobbly seamers did much damage on the big day  •  martin hayhow  /  Getty Images

It ought to have been the mismatch of the tournament. The tournament debutants and rank outsiders, Bangladesh, had yet to post a total in excess of 200 in four attempts - not even against their fellow minnows, Scotland. Pakistan, on the other hand, had swept all before them - including, thrillingly, the favourites Australia at Headingley. Under the peculiar rules of the competition, they had already attained maximum carry-over points for the Super Sixes stage, and so had absolutely nothing to lose. Bangladesh, on the other hand, treated the match against their former countrymen as their very own World Cup final. To anyone attuned to the atmosphere of the era, an upset was very much on the cards.
The moment
All day long, Pakistan played with an other-worldly attitude. Run-outs and mishaps littered their cricket, none more suspicious than the double-whammy instigated by Inzamam-ul-Haq - first he sold an outrageous dummy to run out his batting partner, Saeed Anwar, before missing a straight one from the dobbly seamer, Khaled Mahmud, in the very next over. From 42 for 5 chasing 224, Pakistan gave up the ghost in front of a sell-out 7000 crowd at Wantage Road, the vast majority of whom were roaring like the Bengal Tigers emblazoned on their flags, drums, whistles and faces. It was another run-out that sealed the victory - even as Saqlain Mushtaq stood his ground to await the third umpire's signal, the outfield turned into a tide of ecstatic, hollering supporters. Northampton had, for a heady afternoon, transformed into downtown Dhaka.
Boundary view
In the euphoric atmosphere that followed the win, scepticism was initially suppressed - although one or two inquisitive eyebrows were raised when Wasim Akram announced to the world: "I'm happy we lost to our brothers". Aminul Islam, Bangladesh's captain, was quick to assess the impact of his team's performance. "We have made history today," he said. "Beating Pakistan, one of the best teams in the world, will help us attain Test status and assist in the development of our younger players." Wisden acknowledged the rumours of match-fixing, but added: "Nothing diminished the Bangladeshi fans' euphoria. It was the greatest day in their cricketing history, and perhaps no event since independence had united the country with such delight."
What happened next
Sure enough, Bangladesh rode the wave of victory all the way to Test status. They celebrated their promotion in Dhaka in November 2000, when their maiden opponents, India, were run improbably close for the first half of a match they eventually won at a canter. But then the good times ended all too abruptly. By the time the next World Cup came around in 2003, a battered and bruised nation had been shown to be badly out of their depth, and their defeat against Canada marked a new nadir for their fortunes.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo