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Bangla drive last nail in India's coffin

Despite an attack of nerves and fall of three quick wickets, Bangladesh made it quite easily in the end, reports Pradeep Magazine.
None | By Pradeep Magazine, Port-of-spain
UPDATED ON MAR 27, 2007 01:32 AM IST

When Bangladesh took a giant leap forward on Sunday evening to enter cricket's Big League, it was four in the morning in Dhaka. It was March 25 here and March 26 in Bangladesh. Does it matter? In many ways, it did. March 26 was the date when Bangladesh won its independence in 1971.

It was time for twin celebrations and people in Dhaka, especially university students, poured onto the streets, proud of what their team had achieved thousands of miles away.

The players themselves were nervous wrecks during the match that was played under most difficult of conditions. Rain and dark clouds forced so many stoppages that by the time it all got over, only 42 overs had been bowled. With each rain break, the match time was progressively reduced, until it was a finally 21-overs-a-side game.

Bermuda, whose amateurish but bubbling spirit, was a refreshing contrast to the highly competitive cut-throat approach of the other teams, were unlucky to lose the toss and then to be told at the 15th over stoppage that their innings would now last only 6 overs more. They did manage a competitive total and when Kevin Hurdle and Saleem Mukuddem were darting the ball around at unimaginable angles, even an upset looked probable. But despite an attack of nerves and fall of three quick wickets, Bangladesh made it quite easily in the end.

Their coach Dav Whatmore, who came to the press conference on media request, said, "The conditions there were the most difficult any team has faced in this tournament."

He did not want to say to overstay and told the press to direct their questions at the real heroes - pointing towards the dais where skipper Habibul Basher and Mohammad Ashraful sat.

Bashar, a 35-year-old veteran in a team whose average age is around less than 23, was his disarming self. Ashraful, when asked, if he was nervous, said, "Who me? No" But those who watched the match saw a team that would have found it difficult to win if Bermuda's opening bowlers had not been too wayward.

Finally, when the winning runs were scored off a straight-driven four by Saqibul Hasan, the team in the dressing room broke into spontaneous celebrations, rejoicing at having made history. The fact that they had knocked India out in the process was incidental.

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