Bangladesh’s rise in the cricketing world has clearly reached a different level. Take the first ODI against hosts Sri Lanka at Dambulla. The Bangla Tigers, after leveling the Test series one-all, produced a stunner in the opening match and went up 1-0 in the three-match series. It wasn’t a simple victory but an astounding one with a margin of 90 runs.
The win ended up being so special that Tamim Iqbal, the opener, who led the visiting side’s assault with his eighth ODI century, received a call from none other than the most important personality of his country – Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina. The attacking left-hander was a major contributor in helping side post a potential winning total of 324 runs batting first.
“There was a time when I was struggling a little bit. The messages from the dressing room were to keep on batting and try to bat as long as possible. I am very happy to be successful.”
Iqbal, who batted till the 46th over of the match, ended up scoring 127 runs and was the backbone of two vital stands that led his team to build such a huge total. The first came with Sabbir Rahman (54), with whom he added 90 runs for the second wicket while the second came with Shakib-al-Hasan (72) with whom he shared a 144 runs stand.
“I am very satisfied with the knock. We batted first in hot weather. We did all the hard work. Sabbir Rahman played brilliantly. Shakib and I had a really good partnership. They were bowling well during a period, and we rotated the strike and looked for the odd boundary. We planned our innings very well. Getting the hundred, and winning the game is the best feeling you can ever get.”
The change is clearly visible. Bangladesh seems to have successfully reached the next level were they are capable of competing with teams in different conditions.
“We struggled when we started playing international cricket and then there was a time when we wanted to be a strong side at home. Now we are slowly progressing in overseas conditions as well. It is a great way to start an ODI series, but there are still two more games to go. We need to be at our best to beat them. They are a quality side.”
“We have some talented youngsters with some experienced cricketers. The best feeling is when the team is winning. We also know that there will be a time when things won’t go our way. We have to remember our good times and when the time comes, we will handle it better.”
With the lead in their pocket, Iqbal made the obvious fact clear that the visitors will push for a series win.
“Winning the series is very important. We are in a position to win the series. It will be a huge achievement to beat Sri Lanka in their backyard. It won’t be easy, and we have to work harder in the next match.”
“We did outstandingly well today in the field. Mashrafe’s fielding effort was fantastic. We probably won’t win games all the time but this attitude will make things easier. This new attitude of being involved in everything and supporting each other will take us a long way.”
The victory was sweet, but the icing on the cake moment arrived when the Bangladesh players received a call from their Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina after the win.
“The Prime Minister had called and we were talking to her. After the Test win, I couldn’t talk to her; she spoke to Shakib and Mushfiqur. After we had won today, she called the board president. Many of us got to speak to her. She congratulated all of us; it is a great feeling when the country’s Prime Minister wishes you well.”
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