The memory of that evening in 2012 is still fresh in many minds. Many of us hadn’t expected Bangladesh to reach that far in the Asia Cup. There was an intense atmosphere all over the city including in the office. The format was ODI and honestly, our hopes were larger than our expectations.

As the Pakistan-Bangladesh match reached its final overs, the newsroom was overflowing with groans, screams, and cheers. Bangladesh was batting and with every run there was howling happiness. How we all hoped and prayed. But it was not to be. It all ended just 2 runs short and that sense of being so near and yet so far still remained. However, there is another’s sorrow that I remember. A forlorn elderly rickshaw-wallah took me home.

My heart is broken the man said, “I garaged my rickshaw to watch the match. How I wanted Bangladesh to win. Now I have taken out my rickshaw again. Win or lose, the owner will want his dues.”

In my entire life supporting sport, I have never met a greater fan of Bangladesh. A wretchedly poor man who docked his half days’ income to watch his team play. He is not from the conventional cricket enjoying class. To me, he will always be the man who stood up, supported, and sacrificed for Bangladesh.

Fast forward to 2016, and Bangladesh was facing Pakistan again in a T20 Asia Cup match, in which we weren’t really sure what was going to happen. But we knew a few things about ourselves including what we did to India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and –seriously big fish – South Africa in 2015, though they were all in the ODI format which was clearly our favoured style of playing.

Our record in the Test is still not good at all, and not particularly better in T20 either. We had won a few but that didn’t matter. Yet we clobbered Pakistan in T20. That was enough to make us hope again.

Once the match began I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular. I thought we would lose respectably, I am being honest.

But when Pakistan lost 3 wickets for 25 or something, I began to hope and expect. So I ran away unable to stand the heat of my hope.

I worked and occasionally checked Cricinfo but then saw this awesome hitting by the Pakistani duo, Shoib Malik and Sarfaraz.

I was hoping for an under 100 score, but that was not to be. By the time the Pakistan innings closed, it was 129. It wasn’t a big score but it wasn’t a paltry one either. It did seem attainable. I was relieved. I had a semi-happy dinner and planned for a full watch.

The Bangladesh innings was not a smooth one. I was tense until Soumya Sarkar batted and the run rate was around 6.5 with a lot of wickets intact. But by the 13th over, the situation was sort of, well, alarming.

And I ran away again. I thought I would go to sleep, but any idiot who has tried to sleep when the national team in a T20 match is in its 15th over, and its future undecided must be a serious idiot. It was clear that I was a serious idiot.

My heart was beating fast and the tightness in my chest was like I had run a 100 mile race. And then a wicket fell and the required run rate was in the double digit. This time I ran away to the kitchen and began to cook. What else could I do?

Suddenly the neighbour’s family cheered loudly and I left the kitchen and the cooking and rushed to the silent TV. It was Mahmudullah and he had hit a six. And then Shakib did that strange shot and his lights went out. I rushed back to the kitchen and began to stir the oil, onions, and spices once more.

And then came another cheer and I rushed back to the TV and there was Mashrafe and he had just hit a 4. Then another, and then the runs kept coming in 1s and 2s. Sami was no match for the tension, and I suppose we should be thankful to him for losing his nerve.

And then in the final over, Mahmudullah’s 4 settled all matters and I suppose like many Bangladeshis I sat down and began to cry.

It was he, who had been the batsman in that match in 2012, and it’s only ironically fair that he should hit the winning stroke in 2016. It was Soumya’s 48 which laid down the platform, but the bowlers created the scenario that led to the victory.

And as Saqlain Mushtaque said on Pakistan TV on Mashrafe, “This is what is called a captain. He promotes himself up the order and comes down to face arguably the best pacer in the world. He hits two consecutive boundaries off him and wins the match for his team. Congrats Captain.”

As I went back to my cooking, I hoped that the elderly rickshaw puller somewhere somehow had watched the match.

Bangladesh won. He had won.

Afsan Chowdhuryis a columnist.

5 Responses to “Asia Cup 2012, 2016, and that old rickshaw-wallah”

  1. A bengali

    What a relief to read this and what a fine escape from the Anam controversy!!
    I hope you write a similar story on Monday morning after the Bangla/India final.

  2. Aminur Rahman

    Afsan bhai, I didn’t cry at the victory moment rather cheered and burst into shout but now after going through your article and at the the point where you mentioned that you sat down and began to cry I cannot check my tears …. my eyes are tearful …..

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