Dhaka, March 20 (IANS) The World Cup is over for Bangladesh. The revellers have disappeared from the streets, the sellers of national flags and team jerseys are counting their losses, and the media has started its post mortem into the meek surrender by the Tigers to the might of South Africa.
Having oscillated between high expectation, hope and despondency corresponding to the performance graph of the national team both in the lead up and during the mega event, there is now a wrenching sense of loss at the manner in which Shakib al Hasan and his men caved in at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium here Saturday.
Replying to South Africa’s score of 284/8 in the group B game, Bangladesh were skittled out for a miserable 78 in 28 overs to suffer a huge 206-run loss that sent them crashing out of the World Cup.
The frenzy that one witnessed across the country over the past one month as cricket mad fans – particularly the youngsters, sang and danced and partied through the night on the streets – now seems to be history.
One misses the continuous hum of vuvuzelas, frantic drum beats, the metallic sound of cymbals, and cricket-like music emitted by maracases, that had turned the approach road to the stadium into a party zone.
“The whole country was behind the players. We knew South Africa were a tough side. But we at least expected them to put up a decent fight. It seems they are yet to learn the tricks of playing high pressure games,” said Manzur Ahmed, a fruit seller.
Standing close to Manzur, Samsul Huda looked crestfallen. He had been making a killing selling Banlgadesh flags and jerseys all these days. “I had bought so many thinking Bangladesh will go to the quarter final. Now that they have lost, I don’t know what I will do with so many of the unsold ones. I have to find a way,” said the middle-aged man.
The big loss against South Africa did not come tip-toeing. There were ominous signs when West Indies shot them out for 58 in just 18.5 overs and won by nine wickets. Nevertheless, the passionate fans still filled the stands. Bangladesh did not disappoint, pulling off a victory against England and keeping their Cup hopes alive. But the overbearing pressure again pulled Bangladesh down Saturday.
Mathematically, they can still make it. But such is the difference in net run rate between Bangladesh and closest rivals West Indies, that even if India inflict a huge defeat on the Caribbean side in the concluding group game Sunday, the Callypso charmers would move into the last eight.
Former Bangladesh captain Akram Khan said he found the pathetic collapse against the West Indies and South Africa inexplicable. “Nobody thought they will go down like this in these two matches. I think even the players are shocked.”
However, Akram also acknowledged all that the team has achieved.
“We had set a target of defeating two small teams and one big side. In that way we have got some success.
“Also the World Cup has shown that we can win matches even on days Tamim Iqbal and Shakib do not perform. The good show of opening bat Imrul Kayes and pacer Shafiul Islam is a big plus,” Akram told IANS.
Echoed a leading newspaper Daily Sun: “Everyone expected a resilient performance from the Tigers against South Africa, instead they put on a show which made them look like amateurs.’
The pain was evident in the headline given by Bengali daily Dainik Ittefaq: “Swapna Adharai roye Gelo, Bishwa Cup Theke Karun Bidai” (The dream remains unfulfilled, a sad exit from the World Cup).
“Dakkhin Africar kache dusho choi rane har, lajjai dublo Bangladesher Bishwacup Swapna” (A 206 run defeat to South Africa brings a shameful end to Bangladesh’s World Cup dreams) said the leading private television news channel ATN News in its report.
The media also highlighted Bangladesh skipper Shakib’s apology to the cricket loving millions after the defeat.
A Cup that started with high expectations after the Bangladesh team’s promising build up to the quadrennial extravaganza – 4-0 triumph over New Zealand, 3-1 victory over Zimbabwe and a close 1-2 defeat in an away series against England – has now ended in heartbreak.
In between, Bangladesh’s roller coaster ride in the World Cup had evoked euphoria as also despair. While the victory over England could be called the high tide of the performance, the wins over Ireland and the Netherlands added to the people’s expectations.
If the loss to India in the tournament opener was a dampener, the nation had plunged into anger and gloom after the loss against the West Indies. Skipper Shakib’s house was stoned, and the West Indies bus also did not escape the wrath of the cricket fans.
The defeat against South Africa has finally put an end to all the tension.