Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Festive crowd greets World Cup

The biggest advantage of watching a game from the stands alongside the faithful and not encased in an air-conditioned press box is that you miss nothing of the buzz, the collective heartbeat of the thousands who are inside the stadium egging on their own to do better and bigger things.
So it turned out to be a rather refreshing and reinvigorating experience for this reporter to renew ties with the gallery and it will remain a memorable one as there couldn’t have been a bigger occasion than the opening match of the World Cup 2011 between Bangladesh and India.
The intensity of the atmosphere, the intensity of the emotions kept building throughout the morning as all roads in Dhaka seemingly led to a common destination: the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
For a radius of more than a kilometre either side of the stadium, vehicular movement was restricted. But that did very little to dampen the festive mood of the fans. The thousands were not in a mood to complain, they were unbothered about the stringent security measures that on instances even amounted to being hassled. They were in a mood to celebrate; to celebrate the advent of the World Cup, and on a bigger note, to celebrate cricket.
Palash, a student from Shajahanpur, was holding his shirt in his hand as he had painted his body in green. Proudly he said: “I will not wear a shirt today, I will be painted in green and support the Tigers.”
But it wasn’t only Bangladeshis. There were several Australians on their holiday and Europeans too living in Dhaka who chose the day to adopt the Tigers as their own.
There were Indian fans too out there among the mass, but not as vocal as the local ones. Ratish, an IT student from Chennai, came with three of his friends to Dhaka just to watch the match. When I asked him who the favourites were for the match, he provided an ambiguous reply: “Hopefully it’s India, but I’m not too optimistic. Tigers are a very dangerous side and it’s their own backyard,” he said.
Inside Sher-e-Bangla, the modern and imposing home of Bangladesh cricket, the atmosphere reached fever pitch. First it was the national anthem and then when the coin smiled for the Tigers.
But the decision by Shakib Al Hasan to field first was taken with suspicion initially which turned into frustration as Virender Sehwag and co stamped their authority on the game.
But to live up to the good name of the Dhaka crowd, they were appreciating every good stroke played by the Indian batsmen.
The popular songs played on the loud speakers kept all the dull moments in the breaks between overs at bay. The occasion caught up so much with everyone present, that a former Indian cricketer and presently a Hindi commentator did his best rendition of a Tagore song when on a round of the elaborate press box.
Sehwag departed for the pavilion for an authoritative 175-run knock and by the time he had left the crowd grew into such a generous mood that they almost felt sorry for the Nazafgarh man for not reaching a double hundred. And the mood changed little afterwards in the game as people chanted and shouted well into the night.

 

Via: The Daily Star

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