“What is the most beautiful memory to you so far in Bangladesh cricket?” if a Bangladeshi fan is to answer the question what would be the most possible answer? Obviously, it’s the Asia Cup of 2012. And coincidentally, if they are asked about the most heart-breaking moment, it is supposed to be the Asia Cup final of 2012, too. Yes, there might be bit of dispute in terms of Bangladeshi cricket fans had loads of occasions before the Asia Cup success which can never be overlooked. How come a Bangladeshi fan can forget something like the ICC Championship victory or the first victory against mighty Pakistan in the world cup of ’99 or disgracefully defeating India in the world cup of 2007? There are many more like those which would obviously be kept as in-erasable memories in the heart of every cricket loving fan of Bangladesh. But the major difference with the past success stories in Bangladesh cricket with the success in Asia Cup was, there was the glitter of consistency throughout the tournament which was not really available in terms of past successes. Most of the matches won by Bangladesh in the past were ‘acjetivated’ either as ‘Fluke’ or ‘Accident.’ Most of the other successes were hardly foreseen before the matches, but Asia Cup was the tournament after which everyone started to realize that Bangladesh were no more in the fraternity of ‘Minos’, especially in their home ground. [Watch Video Clip: A sorrowful moment in World Cricket history]
Before the tournament there were plenty of drama taken place in Bangladesh cricket. The declaration of the name of the captain for the Asia cup was delayed 1 day since a number of officials of Bangladesh Cricket Board was thinking Mushfiqur Rahim ‘unfit’ to be the captain because of his disparaging remarks about BPL. However, Mushfiq was saddled with the responsibility. Another drama was in action regarding Bangladesh’s the then best opener Tamim Iqbal. Surprisingly, he was not taken for the tournament saying that he was unfit. But Tamim was claiming himself as fit, so did the chief selector. The chief selector Akram Khan resigned from the post as he thought Tamim’s exclusion was unfair. The problem however was resolved after the Prime Minister’s intervention and Tamim Iqbal was taken in the team.
The inaugurating match was played between Bangladesh and Pakistan in Sher-E- Bangla Crickiet Stadium at Mirpur on 11th of March. Before the match Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan created a bit of zeal in the international media remarking, ‘Our aim is to be champion.’ In this match,Pakistan after being sent to bat by Bangladesh scored a very compatible score of 262.During their batting Bangladesh started up with a brisk opening partnership of 45 in 11 overs. Tamim scored a half century which was apparently a handy reply to them who didn’t want Tamim in the team and Tamim’s expression after scoring the half century was suggesting that,too. Throughout the entire match Bangladesh was very much in the game. Although while Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah Riad got out in 2 consecutive deliveries there was a bit of fear amongst the Bangladeshi fans. But then Shakib and Nasir steadied the ship and took Bangladesh to the position where it was actually very much tough for Bangladesh to be defeated. When Nasir Hossain got out in 44th over Bangladesh required only 38 of 39 balls. With Shakib –Al –Hasan still around there was no way Bangladesh was out of the match. But the irresponsible batting from the tail-enders couldn’t let Bangladesh got out of the vicious circle of being defeated to Pakistan time and again. The next match of Bangladesh was against the mighty Indians who were drastically confident after winning the 2011 world cup. The match ought to be written in the history as ‘Cricket God’ Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th century. While India scored 289 most of the reporters started preparing report on Sachin’s craving century assuming Bangladesh has no chance winning the match. However, Bangladesh won. Shakib-AL-Hasan, who was the hero for Bangladesh throughout the tournament, again scored a handy 49 while he was given out stamping at the very much critical juncture of the match with a very much unconvincing call from the third umpire. After Shakib had nearly transformed the match in favor of Bangladesh, the fans were fearing that this might be another case of ‘near yet so far’. But little Mushi’s captain’s knock did not let that happen. Bangladesh beat Srilanka in the greatly important next match very much convincingly in the rain-affected match which was finished with the help of the D/L method. [Watch Video Highlights: Bangladesh vs India, Asia Cup 2012]
Bangladesh in front of Pakistan in the final in the month of March. Every Bangladeshi knows what it means to fight against Pakistan in the month of March. The Sher-E-Bangla stadium at Mirpur was turned into the ‘human ocean’ and it was like Bangladesh was playing with 12 players and the 12th player was the audiences. The occasion was so much huge for Bangladesh that even the bitter rivals Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia could not desisted themselves from standing in the same stand cheering for Bangladesh. The whole country was literally paralyzed as the whole nation’s normal life came to a stand still for one day.
After Pakistan gave Bangladesh a very much insignificant target of 237 the hope of the Bangladeshi fans started to pile up more. With the batting performance Bangladesh showed throughout the tournament there were not many who would have thought Bangladesh couldn’t get to the target. Bangladesh again got a steady opening partnership of 68 while Tamim carried his good form in this match as well. After that, two wickets fell down in quick succession including Tamim. Afterwards, it was again up to Shakib who established himself as a kind of ‘Mythological Warrior’ in the tournament. He with another Bangladeshi batting reliability Nasir Hossain started to settle down things quite a bit for Bangladesh. Nasir Hossain who was a sort of revolution for Bangladesh team throughout the tournament since he seemed to be very quick through the wicket and tends to change the strike time and again which is rare amongst the Bangladesh batsmen, seemed to forget how to bat completely. While Shakib was in the role of rescuer for Bangladesh like other matches, Nasir was like trying heart and soul to make Bangladesh’s victory tougher. It got clear that the inexperienced Nasir was got hold of the pressure of the final match. However, Shakib told Nasir to stick to the wicket as much as he could as they didn’t have much of batting to come. When Nasir got out in the 43rd over Bangladesh being in 170 for 4 not many of the fans were really unhappy. But when Shakib was bold by Aizaz Cheema in the 44th over the whole stadium was like the ‘house of death’. However,after all the substantial dramas being taken place it turned out that Bangladesh required 9 off 6 balls with 3 wickets remaining. It was not supposed to be much of a problem with Mahmudullah still around. In the 49.5th over when Razzaq was bold by Cheema, Bangladesh found them in the position where they needed a boundary from the last ball of the match with Shahadat Hossain at the striking end. But he couldn’t manage more than a leg-by. [Watch Video Highlights: Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, Asia Cup 2012]
The stadium which barely half an hour ago was enlightened with the dazzling fireworks by the Bangladesh fans sensing their first ever major tournament victory turned into a cursed place for the fans of Bangladesh. Not many of the fans would have thought before the match Bangladesh will beat Pakistan in final. But the way they were defeated they had nothing to do but blaming god. It would not hurt much even if Bangladesh were defeated by 10 wickets or 100 runs as it did for getting defeated by 2 runs. Watching Mushfiqur Rahim crying like a kid in the field embracing Shakib, watching Shakib whining, watching gloomy Nasir the whole atmosphere was enough to be remembered as the greatest tragedy to the Bangladesh fans. But, after the pain being abated, thinking about the whole scenario of the tournament the fans won’t find much to regret about. Obviously, losing the chance to beat the opposition like Pakistan in such a big occasion can’t be forgotten so easily but what Bangladesh had done in the particular tournament cannot be overlooked. Asia Cup was definitely a slap in the face of the critics of the Bangladesh cricket. All the big Medias who used to criticize Bangladesh cricket so far they not only praised the improvement of Bangladesh cricket but also entitled the team as the ‘heart conqueror ‘ . When someone like Brian Lara said that, ‘My heart was broken seeing the boys crying. Although Pakistan won the Asia Cup, Bangladesh won the heart,’ then how come the pain of the fan’s as well as the cricketer’s could not be appeased?