Whatever dreams Hong Kong started the game with, were completely shattered into pieces at the close of the first match of Indian Oil Asia Cup 2004. Bangladesh not only won, but won convincingly by a huge margin of 116 runs. Forces of anti-BD were dancing the early rain dance thinking Bangladesh is on the verge of repeating the Canada episode. By the time the game was over, these knowledgeable critiques, commentators and column writers all had to eat their words and digest it. Bangladesh won and won it in style.
Earlier on the day, Hong Kong captain Rahul Sharma won a good toss and sent Bangladesh into bat. Due to over night rain there was enough moisture on the pitch to create trouble for Bangladesh openers Javed Omar and Mohammad Ashraful. Full credit goes to Hong Kong bowlers for pitching the ball on the right spot.
Ashraful started with a juicy full toss straight drive four, giving signs of big score. Unfortunately, he departed right after another four scoring only 9. Habibul Bashar and Javed Omar rebuilt the innings solidly and put up 85 runs partnership which ended when Bashar sweeped the ball into square leg fielder. During his 32 run innings he played some glorious strokes and was only starting to open up when he played that fateful sweep shot. He hit 5 fours in his 80 minute innings from 44 balls.
Bangladesh was 95/2 when Rajin Saleh came in. He played few good shots but got out cheaply trying to steer the ball past the keeper only to be caught behind for 10.
Along came Alok Kapali and along he went. It seems like the bad luck has been following him everywhere these days. The LBW decision is quite questionable as it was going down the leg. He paid the price for playing across the line and Bangladesh was 127/4.
With that out, begun the hoo-hah of anti-BD song. Commentators started their fortunetelling and predicted the day belonged to Hong Kong and an upset was in the making.
Mushfiqur Rahman came in and joined Javed Omar. They steadied the ship for few overs until Javed got himself run-out from non-striker's end. He called and ran half the pitch for a non-existant single. But he can keep his head high as he kept the innings together and made a solid 68 (113) at 35th over. In his 68 runs, he hit four 4s staying for 150 minutes with 113 balls. Had he stayed there a little longer, we could have seen another ODI century.
Khaled Masud, the Pilot, and the most dependable Bangladesh middle order came in the middle and started the buildup with Mushfiq. Batsmen were taking it carefully and not going for big shots, taking fast singles and rotating the strike. Right when some sort of partnership was on the horizon, Mushfiq edged to keeper trying to work the ball to thirdman area. He was 18 and Bangladesh was 167/6 after 38 over and anti-BD song got louder than ever.
Team think tank sent Rafique ahead of Mahmud to increase the run rate as last 10 overs were approaching. But that backfired as Rafique got bowled trying to drive while not bringing his foot to the line of the ball. Bangladesh was 174/7 and some were predicting below 200 finish.
Fighting cricketer Khaled Mahmud showed his fists yet again as he stood rock solid with Pilot. These two brought Bangladesh close to 200 when Pilot got caught at point in 47th over. Tapash Baisya joined Mahmud to speed up the run. Mahmud got run out on the 49th over from a direct hit. Abdur Razzak made quick fire 5 from 3 balls and Tapash finished on 6 to bring Bangladesh total to 221 in 50 overs. The last over brought them 11 runs.
Razzak did the job in style on debut
Wise heads were questioning if 221 was enough to defend.
Hong Kong came into bat with a high from commentators who were predicting the upset of the year. Right away Hong Kong felt the heat of Bangladesh attack. Maiden after maiden and swing and miss from Hong Kong were getting quite repeating.
Mushfiq came in to ease the Hong Kong's sufferings by removing Manoj Cheruparambil for a duck on the 4th over. Hong Kong was yet to score a run from the bat. Tapash hovering on 136kph made life quite difficult for Hong Kong batsmen in the middle. Run rate hovering on 1 after 8 overs was talking a toll on this inexperienced side.
10th over saw a caught and bowled from Mushfiq removing Alexander French with 10 and Hong Kong on 15/2. The out-swing deceived Frech as he wanted to work toward leg side. Ball got leading edge and it was a simple c & b for Mushfiq.
First 4 of Hong Kong innings comes on the 14th over making the commentators very happy, as they repeatedly praised the quality of that ?blue-moon? stroke from Tabarak Dar, while predicting that the shots would start to flow from then on.
Change bowler Razzak on his debut did extremely well from the very start. He got his debut wicket soon from LBW as his spin fooled the batsman to miss the ball while on front foot; leaving Hong Kong on 38/3 after 17 over.
Mahmud?s inswing got Tabarak Dar right between middle and leg stump and Ashoka DeSilva had no choice but to agree with the LBW. Hovering on 49/4 after 22 over Hong Kong was struggling very hard. Now it was a matter of survival for them as they knew very well that the match was out of their hand and even never was.
Mahmud collected his second wicket with a gem of a delivery outside the offstump. Lamsam had to play it and the result was a healthy edge to keeper Pilot.
Rafique joined the wicket taker?s group right away removing captain Rahul Sharma. And for the first time commentators agree that Hong Kong was in deep trouble at 65/6 after 27 overs!
Pilot did a brilliant run out by diving and a single handed hit to the stumps to remove Najeeb Aamer. A late order partnership between Lama and Gul brought Hong Kong close to 100 when Razzak removed Gul with a straighter arm ball. Hong Kong on 96/8 was fighting hard to reach that 3 figure. But at 98/9 (Afzal LBW Razzak) that hope of getting to 100 was fading away very quickly. They got to that magic number and soon at 105 Rafique finished their suffering once and for all. Hong Kong got all out for 105 runs from 45.2 overs.
Bangladesh won the match by 116 runs.
Sinhalese Sports Club Ground pitch looked good but was not batting friendly at all. Taking the batting advantage did not happen due to some wild swings early on. This could be due to overnight and early morning showers. From the very word go, the pitch was assisting the bowlers and Bangladesh did well to reach 221 in 50 overs. Kapali?s failure slowed down the run speed. Bashar should have stayed longer to ensure Bangladesh reach around 250. He was set in the middle and did all the hard works.
Javed Omar did excellent to hold the innings together as he found his form back. Ashraful and Javed opening is perfect and they shouldn?t be replaced right away. We have to give Ashraful a bit more time in the opening and he will come through. Kapali on the other hand needs a break. Faisal should come in his place for the next match against Pakistan.
Razzak?s confidence on this debut was probably the most important thing Bangladesh got out from this match. This was a perfect stage for his debut and he did the job in style. Mixing his deliveries and deceiving the batsman while keeping them on front foot all along. He can spin the ball considerably and he can be a lethal prospect for future of Bangladesh bowling.
Bangladesh can take their pride in winning the match. They have defeated Hong Kong thoroughly and convincingly by a 116 run margin. They did not give Hong Kong any chance and they were in the driving seat all along.
The anti-BD song will shut down sooner than later as Bangladesh brings out the inherent Tigers in them. That day is not far away when the commentators and wise columnists of some cricket information site will think twice before they raise a voice to insult Bangladeshi cricket. There can be only one king in the jungle of cricket, and it?s the Tiger!
The author is a banglacricket forum moderator and he goes by the nick nasif - editors.