“The Monday morning in Bangladesh started with the red sun rising in the east. The new dawn tinted the darkness like ink water. It has come with a new hope. Absolved by the light we decide to move on. The young Tigers would move on, but I hope they don’t lose the way and keep their feet on the ground because still there is a long way to go”

 

Heartbreaks in the finals against India are nothing new for Bangladesh. In the past couple of years, Bangladesh have been experiencing this more often. While the Tigers were emerging as a force since 2015 under the astute leadership of Chandika Hathurusingha and Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, their ability to display the ultimate temperament when it mattered the most always came under the microscope. They hooked the big fishes but in the grand stage of an event, the Tigers choked – be the senior or junior side, they failed to live up the expectations in the finals.

While the dusk is rapid, the dawn comes slowly. Bangladesh might have lost more often, but it never dented their morale. They polished their self-esteem and stood up o their feet for the next big challenge. The senior team broke the jinx of the finals at Ireland last year, while the Tigers of Under 19 were waiting to throw the bombshell in the following year – the time has come to start the trend of winning titles in a mega-event.

Since the end of the last ICC Under 19 World Cup, the think tank of Bangladesh cricket planned appropriately. The head-coach Naveed Nawaz – the former Sri Lankan cricketer – worked on the mental aspect of the young boys so that they don’t lose the battle early, but continue to fight back even when the possibility of a victory looks thin.

Meanwhile, bowling coach Abdullah Ali Akhtar, fielding coach Basit Ali and training and Strengthening coach Richard Stonier provided the perfect foil to Nawaz’s calm and composed, but attacking intent. Each day at the training or a match, these people worked on the tiny details of each member of the young Tigers. As a result, the boys not only developed the skill to perform but also, evolved as those tough nuts, who would meltdown under pressure.

The head-coach of Bangladesh Under 10 Cricket Team Naveed Nawaz. Courtesy: The Daily Star
The head-coach of Bangladesh Under 19 Cricket Team Naveed Nawaz. Courtesy: The Daily Star

Again, one cannot deny the support of Bangladesh Cricket Board boss Nazmul Hassan and his team for arranging so many matches in the last 18 months, where the Tigers could prepare themselves for the big event. Each match was taken seriously and thus, it helped to grow the hunger to win no matter how bigger the hurdle is!

Conquering a battle in the grand stage of a mega-event is not only won by batting, bowling or fielding accurately, but it requires a lot of mental strength. When the opposition is teams like India, Australia or England, definitely, a team needs to be at the top of the mental game. In that sense, Naveed has done a fantastic job. At first, he taught the boys how to be patient as Rumi said, “Be patient where you sit in the dark. The dawn is coming” and then, trained them to be battle-hardened.

One could witness how tough the young Tigers were on the field throughout the tournament and their body language in the finals hinted, they were not playing only to win hearts, but for the trophy and script new dawn in the history of Bangladesh cricket.

It was the final. The opposition was almighty India. The Indians are accustomed to winning. They know how to win titles in a mega-event. The Indians are aggressive and like Australia, they play the mental game better than any other team in the subcontinent.

Whereas, the history of Bangladesh is full off heartbreaks in major matches. Whether Bangladesh would be able to change the history this time around remained a moot question. But this young team could Roar loudly which could be heard from the distant corners of the world. They possess the eyes to give the ferocious stare, the jump to fall on the prey and the claws to dig deep into the flesh.

The final was a nerve-jangling affair and in the end, it was all about who could prevail in the battle of nerves. This time around, it was Bangladesh, who won the mental-game and the victory was achieved in one of the calmest and composed. The skipper Akbar Ali was the epitome of composure and the rest rallied around him.

February is the month when the Bangladeshis mourn about the sacrifice of the martyrs of Language movement in 1952. But we, the Bangladeshis, know very well how to take inspiration from the historic events of the past. We don’t know whether this great month worked as a motivating factor for the young guns or not, but at least, one might think, somewhere, in the deepest corners of the heart, this month provided the fuel to fight harder.

Darkness can never have the last word as the dawn is invincible.

The Monday morning in Bangladesh started with the red sun rising in the east. The new dawn tinted the darkness like ink water. It has come with a new hope. Absolved by the light we decide to move on. The young Tigers would move on, but I hope they don’t lose the way and keep their feet on the ground because still there is a long way to go.

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