Sunday, June 20

Historic Pink Test beckons Bangla fans

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A former soldier playing a stringed instrument and singing songs of unity, a budding cricketer who wants to witness history in the making and a businessman are among several Bangladeshis who have already arrived in Kolkata to watch the first-ever day-night Test match on Indian soil at the Eden Gardens beginning on Friday.

Several Bangla fans were frantically hunting for tickets for the historic India-Bangladesh tie even on Wednesday afternoon. Those lucky to lay their hands on the prized possession — with a little help from their Indian friends — hung outside Eden Gardens to catch a glimpse of their team, which practised at the ground in the first half.

“This is definitely a historic moment for the Indian team and Eden Gardens. But it also makes Bangladesh a part of history, too, as this is the first-ever day-night Test that our country is also playing,” said Mahdi Hassan, a domestic cricketer in Bangladesh who reached Kolkata on Tuesday evening from Dhaka. “In Bangladesh, we are very passionate about cricket. I can assure you those who were unable to come will be glued to their televisions on Friday,” said Hassan.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will attend the first day of the Test on Friday, along with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Soon after BCCI president Sourav Ganguly invited Hasina to the Eden, she confirmed, saying, “a Bengali has invited another Bengali for a cricket match.”

CAB officials said an official entourage of former Bangladeshi players, businessmen and members of the civil society have also been invited at Eden.

But it is excitement around the Test itself — which will be played with a pink ball, under floodlights — that has attracted several Bangladeshi fans to the city.

Mohammad Noor Baksh, a former Bangladeshi soldier from Khulna who wielded a gun during the Liberation War in 1971, now carries an ektara and follows the national team everywhere to cheer them. On Wednesday he created a buzz outside Eden Gardens, dressed in his national colours and singing to the tune of his ektara. He has been travelling to all the venues on this tour.

“I travel using the money I receive as pension. People give me food to eat and sleep outside the stadiums. But, in Kolkata, people invite me to their homes,” he said.

Every month, thousands of Bangladeshis visit Kolkata for tourism, shopping and medical treatment. They have spawned an ecosystem in certain locations in the city with restaurants serving Bengali cuisine, currency changers and shops selling wedding trousseau.

Mubarak Ahmed Debu, a businessman in Dhaka, visits Kolkata every month to purchase hosiery in wholesale from Metiabruz. “But this visit is to watch the Test. I was lucky to buy a ticket online much in advance,” said Debu.

CAB officials said they were expecting a full house on Friday. Several activities, including a mascot, lighting up Shahid Minar in pink and inviting children suffering from HIV have been planned around the match.


Source: Times of India

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