Very few people cared about this game. The hosts, Sri Lanka were not involved, and the local people were still greatly perturbed by the with-drawl of India over security reasons. Our opponents Pakistan, was fumed by their lost against the Lankans in the 2nd test match of the recently concluded test series, where numerous dubious decisions went against the tourists. As for Bangladesh, only a handful of cricket lovers (it is worth mentioning that back in the mid 80’s football, not cricket was the no. 1 sports of the country) tried to follow the game. Even that was not easy. Neither BTV nor the Radio Bangladesh seemed to have any interest in this fixture. So, we had to rely on the overseas service of Radio Pakistan to listen to the commentary of this fixture. Over at Moratua, a very small number of people gathered to watch the game. They knew that it would be a mismatch,(and it eventually was). Yet the 45 over match between Bangladesh and Pakistan, held at Tyonne Fernando Stadium, at Moratuwa, on 31st March, 1986, would always go down into the history books as the first ever official ODI match played by Bangladesh. Almost quarter of a century later, Bangladesh cricket is passing through its halcyon days. While our test status still remains a case for controversy, with only 3 wins over 10 years (those too against sub standard opposition), at least Bangladesh has finally emerged as a mid level strength team in the one day arena. The whitewash against NZ has been followed by our triumph with the Asian games gold in T20 cricket. With the WC just 3 months away, the cricket lovers of the country are eagerly waiting for our national team to reach new heights. At this juncture, I don’t think it would be too inappropriate to take a look back to our debut match in the official ODI arena. First, Bangladesh had to earn the right to participate in the tournament at SL. Back in January, 1984, we had successfully hosted (and won) the 1st SEA cricket tournament at Dhaka, easily defeating HK in the final. Thus we qualified to play in the 2nd Asia Cup (officially called the John Player Gold Leaf Trophy) in SL, during the spring of 1986. The tournament lost some its luster with the with-drawl of India, leaving, the hosts, the Pakistanis, and Bangladesh, a rookie in the top level cricket, to vie for the glory. The Bangladesh team for this historical match was; Gazi Ashraf Lipu, Rafiqul Alam, Nurul Abedin Nobel, Raqibul Hasan, Minhajul Abedin Nannu, Shahidur Rahman, Golam Faruq Suru, Hafizur Rahman (WK), Jahangir Shah Badshah, Samiur Rahman Sami & Golam Nawsher Prince. Many observers would note that the team included no less than four seam bowlers, Badshah, Prince, Suru & Sami. This however didn’t show any great abundance of pace talent in the country, nor did this have anything to do with the wicket at Moratuwa. It simply shows the fact, for must part of the 80’s Bangladesh cricket struggled to find quality spin bowlers. The problem became especially acute after the retirement of Azhar in the mid 80’s. Wahid and Goala, though enormously successful in the domestic arena failed to shine at the international level. At the absence of a frontline spin bowler, Lipu, the skipper had to take responsibility of off spin bowling. The Pak captain Imran Khan won the toss and put the opposition in. Nobel and Raqibul opened the innings for Bangladesh. Both of them were justifiably a bit nervous, but their overall emotions were entirely different. For Raqibul, already in his 30’s, this was the final step of rebuilding shattered dreams. The only Bengali ever to come close to playing for Pakistan in a test match, Raqibul had played a pivotal role in building the cricketing infrastructure of the new born country. He had been a regular for the Bangladesh team since the 1976-77 season. Now, at the twilight zone of his career (he would retire from international cricket after the ICC trophy in England, later that year), he finally had the chance to play an official ODI match. In contrast, young Nobel, from Chittagong, was full of promise and hope. Though, he never achieved the consistency of his more well-known younger brother Nannu, on his day, Nobel could become a nightmare for any bowling attack. And he had one such day just days earlier. Just before the tournament, Bangladesh toured Pakistan as part of their preparation for the Asia Cup. The team did well to win 2 of the 6 matches on the tour. In the final match of the tour, Nobel scored a brilliant 102 against the Zone ‘A’ attack to set up a comfortable 52 run victory. There Nobel shared a 135 run 2nd wicket stand with skipper Lipu (69). Here, however, Nobel earned the dubious distinction of being the first Bangladeshi batsman to be dismissed, that too for a duck. His 3rd ball duck, ct. behind of Imran, unfortunately put his ODI career in the wrong foot. Overall, in his 4ODIs he would only manage 15 runs. But, he would prove a bigger menace at the Associate member level cricket. His 85 against Denmark, and 105 against Canada during the 1990 ICC Trophy, helped Bangladesh reach the Semi-Finals. Skipper Lipu replaced Nobel at the crease, only to return with a duck, bowled by Wasim Akram. Raqibul (5) and Nannu (6) perished soon to leave the rookies tottering at 27/4. Like his elder brother, Nannu entered this match with lot of hope, only to be disappointed. Nannu had emerged as a top middle order batsman of the country with a string of consistent performances for Abahani during the 1984-85 season. But, he had a poor introduction to international cricket. He struggled against the Lankans in March 1985, and against Imran Khan’s men in January. 1986. During the Pak tour, he had a number of starts, but failed to convert them to scores. Here, his failure was a big disappointment for all his fans in the country. To his great credit, Nannu would bounce back immediately, top scoring with 40 against SL in the next match. And unlike his brother, Nannu would enjoy a long international career, including 4 ICC Trophy tournaments (a record for Bangladesh) and the WC in England, in 1999. Ironically, his last ODI was also against Pakistan, at Northampton, during the 1999 WC (he and the opposition skipper Wasim Akram were the only survivors from the first meeting between the two sides). This time though, it was a happy experience for our boyz. Nannu played his part, scoring 14, and taking 1/29 from 7 overs with his gentle medium pacers. Coming back to the match at Moratuwa, Nannu’s dismissal left Shaheed and Rafiq at the wicket. These two batsmen didn’t possess the technical efficiency of Lipu and Nannu. Rather , they were more known for their lusty hitting. Despite the situation of the game, they decided to play their natural game. And, against all the odds, it worked. The 41 run 5 th wicket stand provided us with our best moments of the morning. Everybody knew that the resistance was always going to be temporary, but it was great fun to watch while it lasted. Young Shaheed was especially belligerent, showing little respect for the best bowling attack in the world (a reputation that the Paks shared with the West Indies). Knowing fully well that he had little to lose, he played with gay abandon. The support seamers of Paksitan, Zakir Khan and Manzoor Elahi seemed to have little effect on this pair. In fact, Imran had to bring back his fastest bowler, Akram, to break this partnership. Akram had Rafiq ct. by Rameez for 14. And as so often the case after a partnership, the departure of one was followed by the dismissal of the other. With the team score at 70, and his own score at 37, Shaheed gave a return catch to the Pakistan Leggie Qadir. After that, Suru, the all rounder batted sensibly to score 14, but the tail failed to support him. There was hardly any regret for this failure. The pace of Wasim Akram and the guile Qadir would have been too much for most lower- order batsmen in world cricket at that time. Bangladesh was bowled out for 94 in the middle of the 36th over. Akram finished with 4/19, Qadir with 3/15. A target of 95 was never going to be enough, and the Paks reached their target for the loss of only 3 wickets, but not before Jahangir Shah Badshah gave a superb exhibition of medium pace bowling. The all rounder was one of the most reliable performers for the national team throughout the 80’s. A genuine big occasion player, he normally reserved his best for big matches. Just months earlier, he had produced an outstanding performance with both bat and ball against Imran Khan’s men, receiving rich laurels from the opposition captain. Here, he had missed out with the bat, getting out for a duck. But, he was determined to make amends with the ball. Coming on as a first change, he immediately found the perfect line and length. He bowled wicket to wicket, and was rewarded with LBW decisions against Mohsin Khan and Rameez Raja. Overall, he finished with 2/23 from his 9 overs. Later, skipper Lipu picked up the big wicket of Javed Miandad. But, opener Mudassar remained undaunted ( 47* ) and with Qasim Omar took Pakistan home. Wasim Akram was adjudged the MOM for his hostile fast bowling. So ended the 1st ever ODI in our history, as expected with a heavy defeat. But, the differences between the teams were enormous, and our boyz could hold their heads high after their performance. Especially laudable were the performances of young Shaheed and the veteran Badshah. The Bangladesh team at that time was in a stage of building. From this beginning at Moratuwa, the team would develop gradually. But, it would take time. Finally, after more than a decade of hard work, would Bangladesh make their way into the WC and subsequent test status. A new chapter would begin. To know more visit Bangladesh Cricket Board.
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