Tigers roar at last
Nizamuddin Ahmed - 31 May 1999
NORTHAMPTON, May 31: The Bengal tigers did what the Australians, the West Indians, the New Zealanders could not do. The boys from Bangladesh defeated tournament favourites Pakistan by 62 runs to record a famous victory in the last group match of the World Cup.
Undefeated in this World Cup and joint favourites with South Africa, Pakistan received a body blow as Bangladesh triumphed with fantastic performance in batting, bowling as well as fielding.
Unprecedented scenes followed at the Northampton ground as umpire Doug Cowie signalled for the intervention of the third umpire when the Bangladeshi fielders appealed for Saqlain Mushtaque's run-out, the 10th Pakistani wicket. Over the moon Bangladeshi fans invaded the pitch with flags, drums and banners thinking it was all over. Desperate calls over the public address system appealed for calm as police and ground stewards tried to ward them off.
The game could have been marred and it could have been postponed had not the replay showed that indeed Saqlain was run out. And indeed Bangladesh had won, and won against Pakistan.
This is unbelievable! Totally unexpected. A win that will be cherished by 125 million Bangladeshis for a long time to come.
Chasing underdogs Bangladesh's score of 223 in 49 overs, having had an over curtailed for slow over rate, the mighty Pakistanis were packed lock, stock and barrel for a paltry 161 runs. It was a big triumph for Bangladesh, a convincing defeat for Pakistan.
Pakistan, already in the Super Six, had nothing to win today and everything to lose, so said the flustered Pakistan captain Wasim Akram after the match. ``And we lost. We have no excuse for losing this match. We had one bad day today and we lost the match,'' he said.
Opening bowlers, a surprise choice in Khaled Mahmud and World Cup debutant Shafiuddin Ahmed, put Bangladesh on top by removing Shahid Afridi and Ijaj Ahmed quickly with the Pakistan scoreboard showing only seven runs within the first 10 minutes of play. Afridi holed out to Mehrab Hossain off Mamnud and Ijaz lost his stumps to Shafiuddin.
Nineteen runs later, Saeed Anwar was run out as Naimur Rahman made a brilliant stop and throw from cover. His partner Inzamam-ul-Haq was grounded at the other end as Anwar made a desperate but futile dash from three-quarters up the wicket.
Inzamam did not last long and was trapped leg-before to Khaled Mahmud and Pakistan were reduced to 29 for four. Their score-line looked more like a telephone number, to coin an oft-used phrase but more so for underdogs, when 13 runs later Salim Malik was also adjudged leg-before to Mahmud by umpire Darrell Hair.
Azhar Mahmud and Wasim Akram, promoting himself to stop the deluge, began to do some ground work for the sixth wicket, but it was already an uphill task for the Pakistanis. The pair put on 55 runs when Azhar was run out. Aminul Islam made an out-of-this-world stop at extra cover and, more importantly, made a perfect throw to keeper Khaled Mahmud with the jittery Pakistani well out of his wicket.
With the run rate mounting and Bangladeshi bowlers being dealt with respect by the usually ravaging Pakistanis, skipper Wasim Akram was losing his patience. He lifted Minhazul Abedin to deep square-leg where Shahriar Hossain had hardly to move before cradling the high catch. At that point, Bangladesh sensed victory and they went for the kill.
Bangladesh's slow bowling on a wicket that had experienced rain all day yesterday, a cloud cover during most part of the Bangladesh innings, was very effective. All the Pakistani batsmen were uncomfortable. Aminul Islam rose to the occasion and with constant support from his senior players set an attacking field all through.
Pakistan still harboured hopes of a miracle till danger man Moin Khan was at the crease. The wicketkeeper-batsman put on 22 for the eighth wicket with Saqlain Mushtaq before he was caught at deep cover by Mehrab off Naimur Rahman.
Bangladesh were then hounding for the last two wickets but Saqlain and Waqar Younis put on defiant 36 runs for the ninth wicket.
Mohammed Rafique got his act right and had Waqar clean-bowled to signal early celebrations in the stands, although nearly six overs of the match remained.
The end came dramatically as if to manifest the fantastic atmosphere throughout the day. There was an appeal, then Cowie asked for a TV replay and the crowd invaded the pitch chanting shouts of phenomenal exultation.
Many Bangladeshis were in tears. It was something that they did not believe could happen when they got up this morning.
Earlier, Bangladesh beat Scotland, but lost to New Zealand, West Indies and Australia. The win gives Bangladesh four points and only now the lost match against New Zealand appears so important.
Source: The Daily Star, Bangladesh
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