There was no quiet moment. Shouts of ‘India, India’ from the North Stand had not subsided when the East Stand began ‘we want sixer’. Immediately, Shoaib Malik obliged by hitting Amit Mishra over long-off.
The acknowledgement from the stands was ear-splitting as the DJ took over with a popular Bengali band number and fireworks from the top of the Grand Stand.
If anyone thought the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium was a neutral venue for the opening Super 10 match of the World T20, he was wrong.
No one in the stands was neutral, faces betraying the fall of every wicket, fireworks for every boundary and six. The stands were full by the time Pakistan, batting first, had finished the Powerplay.
Waiting to sneak in
A few thousands were waiting to get in when the match began as it took time to frisk everyone and get them through the turnstiles. The Swami Army had turned up and there were fans who had travelled from Singapore.
The fact that Bangladesh had lost to Hong Kong on Thursday night, their second upset loss to a non-Test playing nation this month after going down to Afghanistan in the Asia Cup, had not taken anything away from this match.
The hosts had shown during the 2011 World Cup that filling up the stadium was not dependent on whether they were playing or not when the quarterfinal between South Africa and New Zealand was played in front of packed stands. This was T20.
"Bangladesh has passion for the game. In fact, nowhere in the world would you find such turnouts for neutral matches. The government too is willing to invest for the organisation of such events and the Bangladesh Cricket Board too is financially in a strong position. This is exactly where cricket should be, but unfortunately, the performance of the national team leaves much to be desired and that is why they had to come through the qualifiers," said an official of the International Cricket Council.
It is learnt that the Bangladesh government spent around BDT 115 crore just on the beautification of the city for the World T20.
The army was deployed to improve the roads between the team hotels and stadium, and the flyover from Jatrabari to Fatullah’s Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium was finished in record time keeping the T20 gala in mind.
One upset by the hosts can push the tournament to a different level. The fans want it, so do the organisers to an extent.