The combination of the Bangladesh team, a World Cup and Eid is not a happy one. The only time the religious festival has coincided with cricket's quadrennial showpiece was in 2003, when Bangladesh opened their campaign with an ignominious campaign against minnows Canada on Eid day, which foreshadowed a World Cup in which they lost every completed match. 16 years on, in England, the picture is the opposite.
The Tigers started their World Cup campaign with a 21-run win over the more-fancied South Africa on Sunday, which was preceded by their maiden multi-team ODI trophy win in Ireland on May 17. Skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza is the only surviving member of the 2003 ignominy and when asked reminded on Sunday of that and asked how the team were celebrating Eid this year, he said: "We are not thinking about Eid this year. We are enjoying it as this is our job. Some of the families have arrived but while we enjoy their presence, we are focused on our work ahead."
On a gloomy day in London yesterday, the team went for Eid prayers at London Central Mosque and returned to the team hotel in Vauxhall at around 1:00pm. Some of their families were in London to spend time together on Eid, and on the eve of their second game against New Zealand today, the players spent the day with their loved ones.
The Oval, the venue for the day-night match and where the Tigers were set to practise yesterday under lights, was under covers leading up to 6:00 pm, the time the practice was scheduled to start. However, within an hour, the sun seemed to break out and the Bangladesh players started to come out. Shakib Al Hasan, player-of-the-match in Bangladesh's opening win, was first out to get a good look at the pitch.
But soon, under the sun breaking through stubborn clouds, the real fun began as the whole squad, including the support staff, partook in a long game of what could only be called foot volleyball. The competitiveness among the two competing sets of Tigers did not seem any less than it would be today when they unite against New Zealand. What was special was the laughter as they tried to best each other and the humorous hand-wringing and arguments whenever one side conceded a point.
After about forty minutes of the festive game, the more serious business of fielding practice began, but the high spirits persisted. It was an example of what Mashrafe meant about enjoying their jobs.
Eid day for the Tigers in London began with the morning prayers and then spending time with family. It then proceeded to having fun with friends, who also happened to be national teammates. Come to think of it, Eid in the United Kingdom was not all that different for the Tigers.