Sachin Tendulkar, right, talks to team coach Duncan Fletcher after attending a training session in Dhaka, Bangladesh. AP/Aijaz Rahi
Manzarul Islam Rana died in a motorbike accident on March 16, 2007. He was 22. Bangladesh were in Trinidad gearing up for a crucial World Cup match against India the next day.
The news of the tragic death of the left-arm spinner on the path of making a comeback into the national squad had started to trickle in as the players assembled at the breakfast table. The team meeting followed and surprisingly not a word was spoken of Rana's demise. The then skipper Habibul Bashar was very close to Rana and so was left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak and Mashrafe Mortaza.
A gritty performance by Bangladesh with half-centuries by Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and current skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, after Man-of-the-Match Mortaza bagged four wickets, threw India out of the World Cup. Celebrations inside the Bangladesh dressing room quickly turned emotional as Mortaza stood up on a table and shouted: “We dedicate this victory to Rana”.
It's Rana's fifth death anniversary on Friday when the hosts take on India in their second Asia Cup match at the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium. Bangladesh have not defeated India since then and will be out of the competition if they fail again.
“It seems only yesterday. Memories of Rana are still fresh. The date had slipped my mind. It would be great if we can repeat that performance,” Mortaza, the Man-of-the-Match on both occasions when Bangladesh had defeated India, told HT. The first time Bangladesh beat India was in 2004 in Dhaka.
“It was a great achievement by us,” skipper Mushfiqur Rahim told HT. “We are in a do-or-die situation and a win would not only help us to stay alive in the competition but it would perhaps be the best way to remember Rana.”
SACHIN'S BEST CHANCE
India are likely to go in with an unchanged side that beat Sri Lanka in the first match. That would mean Manoj Tiwary might have to sit out for a 10th consecutive match after scoring an unbeaten century against the West Indies in Chennai.
Playing against the weakest side on paper and in conditions that favour batsmen, Friday's match probably provides Sachin Tendulkar with the best chance to reach his milestone. Bangladesh are aware of that. Skipper Mushfiqur was quick to say that his team had plans in place for Tendulkar. “It's not just about the century. For us to do well we have to counter India's strong batting lineup and Tendulkar is one of their main batsmen,” he said at the pre-match media briefing.