When Bangladesh met Pakistan on their ODI debut

Atif Azam

1st April, 2020 01:56:22 printer

When Bangladesh met Pakistan on their ODI debut

Bangladesh cricket has certainly matured over the years but things were different 34 years ago when they participated in their maiden Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.

The tournament wasn't just an opportunity for the players to rub shoulders with their idols but it was, in many ways, the birth of a cricketing nation. Players who were a part of the historical match against Pakistan on March 31, 1986, are witnesses to that.

Bangladesh qualified for the Asia Cup after becoming champions in the South East Asia Cup two years before the Asia Cup in focus and had been anticipating to play competitive cricket against Pakistan, who were already a dominating force in international cricket.

Pakistan defeated Bangladesh by seven wickets, the latter getting bundled out for 94. But more than the result of the match, the moment is more significant considering it was the beginning of a journey.

The toss on the boundary lines

Skipper Gazi Ashraf Hossain cleared the myth that goes around regarding the toss of that game. Some historians in the country suggest that there was no toss and that Imran Khan allowed Bangladesh to bat as per the insistence of his counterpart.

"Naturally we were thrilled and excited because at that point we were not used to playing so many games," Ashraf told Cricbuzz. "When Imran came to the toss, I could not understand if he was ready or not. Because he was in his practice gear and I was in my match jersey. He suggested that we don't need to go to the centre for the toss and that we could do it near the boundary lines. At that time, there was no obligation to have an umpire at the time of the toss. The captains used to have the toss and tell the umpires.

"TV broadcasts were limited during that edition of the tournament, so the toss was not shown on TV and there were lesser formalities associated with it than today," he said, adding that they paid a heavy price of losing the toss and batting first against a bowling attack comprising Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Zakir Khan, Muddassar Nazar and Abdul Qadir. And all that on a pitch with some residual moisture from the overnight rain.

"Wickets were not covered very well back then. It rained the previous night. The moisture was heavy on the wicket. We wanted to bowl first. But we lost the toss and batted first. It was a big challenge in front of their strong pace attack. Everyone was naturally a little disappointed after talking about losing the toss back to the dressing room. No one was scared, we wanted to fight. However, the reality was, we were far behind them in the combination of skill and experience.

"Let me give you an example: we all didn't even have proper chest guards at the time. Not everyone had helmet grills. I went to Sri Lanka to find a chest guard because we had to face the Pakistan pacers. With the help of their board, I bought a chest guard from a shop. For the first time in that match, many of our players played with a chest guard. Naturally, there was a bit of discomfort," he revealed.

Raqibul Hasan's advice, Miandad's apology

For opener Raqibul Hasan, one of Bangladesh's earliest cricket icons, playing his first match for Bangladesh, and facing the first ball, is saved vividly in his memory log. "That feeling is not forgettable. Played the first international match for Bangladesh and I faced the very first ball. For me it was a lifetime achievement. That feeling can't be forgotten," said Raqibul, who is currently working as a match referee with the BCB among other things.

"Pakistan were a very strong team back then. Sri Lanka were also a rising force in world cricket, a tough team for us. One disappointment was that I didn't get the opportunity to play against India. India did not play in that tournament due to political differences with Sri Lanka."

Raqibul also revealed an anecdote involving Javed Miandad and the "furious" Sri Lankan crowds. "I remember one thing that there were many visitors on the field that day, approximately three to four thousand. At least 95 percent of the visitors were supporting us. Sri Lankans were all furious with Javed Miandad. That's why they were supporting us.

"I heard about the incident from Imran. My relationship with Imran was from the time when I was playing Under-19 Pakistan Championship in 1971. I also spent a lot of time together during the Asia Cup.

''Just before the Asia Cup, Pakistan played a Test series in Sri Lanka. There, in one match, Miandad did something with the umpire's decision. Viewers from the gallery said something to him and Miandad went to the gallery with the bat to beat him. After the incident was published in the newspapers, everyone was outraged. He couldn't get out of the hotel, people started talking about it. People would start to taunt him whenever he went to the shops. This is what Imran told me.

"In the match against us, while Miandad was batting, the crowd was provoking him continuously. I was fielding near him at short cover. After seeing me he said to me, 'Look, how can I play, if the public does this, wherever I go to play, things happen. I didn't even imagine that the situation here will be this bad.'

"I then told him, 'Hold your ears and apologise. It may or may not work.' Miandad then quickly put his bat on the pitch and started to do squats holding his ears, apologising to the crowd. It worked like magic! The crowd then started clapping. In the final, Miandad got a standing ovation from the crowd. I still laugh on my own thinking about it," he added.