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Revenge by proxy for Bangla fans

The support Pakistan got at the Sher-e Bangla stadium on Wednesday was overwhelming, to say the least. The people who filled the stadium to near capacity provided the same boost it did when Bangladesh defeated Ireland, the only win for the hosts at this ground. Nilankur Das reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 24, 2011 02:41 IST
Nilankur Das

The support Pakistan got at the Sher-e Bangla stadium on Wednesday was overwhelming, to say the least. The people who filled the stadium to near capacity provided the same boost it did when Bangladesh defeated Ireland, the only win for the hosts at this ground.

Shahid Afridi posters replaced Shakib Al-Hasan's; there were still some Bangladesh flags in small pockets, but huge numbers of Pakistan fans coloured the stadium in a lighter shade of green as 23,356 people filled into the stands.

Groups of students were seen running down the passage between the rows with the crescent-and-star and the loudest cheer was reserved for the Pakistan skipper when he came in to bowl in the 17th over with West Indies reeling at 38/3.

Afridi was on a hattrick when two young ladies in Pakistan shirt were seen running down the stairs of the lower tier on the left of the media box shouting: "Shahid, we love you". Men had 'Boom Boom' painted on their chest. "When Afridi is playing well, it does not matter whether there is Shoaib Akhtar or not," said Jahir, a student.

As wickets fell one after the other, the cheers got louder and the dancing increased. It was difficult to imagine that the World Cup was already over for Bangladesh. Afridi had already said playing in Bangladesh would be as good as playing at home, and he wasn't off the mark.

Journalists from Pakistan confirmed that only a handful of fans have travelled to Dhaka for this match. It did not matter; the full stadium was fully backing Pakistan.

West Indies had bundled out Bangladesh for 58. And as a collapse was unfolding in the middle, it was soon getting clearer. People wanted Pakistan to get West Indies out for less than hundred. Then, the revenge would have been well and truly complete.