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Party-pooping England put Bangladeshi knees-up on hold

Source : REUTERS
Last Updated: Fri, Mar 18, 2011 12:31 hrs
Tredwell

England cricketers have just ruined potentially the biggest party of the year in Bangladesh.

A defeat for Andrew Strauss's men against West Indies would have ensured Cricket World Cup co-hosts Bangladesh qualified automatically for the quarter-finals on Thursday.

But a dramatic turnaround in their make-or-break match helped England snatch an 18-run victory and the planned celebrations in the capital Dhaka and elsewhere turned into more of a wake instead.

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All is not lost for this cricket-crazy nation. A victory over Group B leaders South Africa in their final round-robin match on Saturday here would rescue their last-eight place and could still conceivably send England home prematurely.

However, few were banking on Shakib Al Hasan's men to beat Graeme Smith's crack outfit.

For many, a missed chance to party was still weighing heavily on them come Friday morning.

"All preparations for another round of celebrations were in vain because the target could not be accomplished by (West Indian captain Darren) Sammy's brigade," Mahfuzur Rahman, 24, a student of the Dhaka University ruefully told Reuters.

SURPRISE DEFEAT

Bangladeshi people do like a good knees-up and have had plenty of opportunities during this Feb. 19-April 2 World Cup they are co-hosting with neighbours India and Sri Lanka.

Their national team has won three times so far, beating Ireland and Netherlands as expected along with a surprise defeat of England last Friday.

For a long time during Thursday's game in Chennai, Bangladeshis glued to their television screens shattered the peace with their cheers as either England wickets fell or West Indian sixes sailed over the boundary lines.

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But an eerie silence descended as late Caribbean wickets clattered giving England victory.

"The fall of West Indies wickets has spoiled the mood," said Mohammad Ilyas, a shopkeeper and lover of cricket.

"No matter, now our lads (Bangladesh) have to fight all the way to get to the second round. I think they can do it if they keep their courage against South Africa," he said.

The England win also disappointed fans in other Bangladesh cities including Chittagong, another centre for World Cup matches.

"We love England always but supported West Indies in the match because a win for England would have made our chance for a second round too difficult," said pessimistic Ashraful Alam, a medical officer.

The frustrated fans have now urged Bangladesh to treat Saturday's match as a "do or die" encounter. They chanted in the sprawling Dhaka university campus: "You (Bangladesh) must win on Saturday, we are with you," according to witnesses.

World Cup 2011

This demand of "must win" has worried some cricket observers, however.

There is no wish of a repeat of the outcry which followed their dismal nine-wicket defeat by West Indies earlier in the competition which led to the booing of the home team and the stoning of the visitors' team bus which was mistaken for Bangladesh's vehicle.

That behaviour led to condemnation from the nation's government and an increase in security for all teams.

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