Reminiscence: My first match | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 03, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 03, 2020

Reminiscence: My first match

In these times of social distancing, we must be safe while remembering that we do not get too used to the world being at a standstill. We were meant to go watch matches together, agree with a few of our neighbours and disagree with the rest. So, we are taking turns at The Daily Star Sport talking about our first live experience at a sports venue. Mazhar Uddin from Dhaka, 1998

I had never before experienced such freezing weather and it was perhaps the chilliest of winters in Dhaka back in January 1998. Me, then a 12-year-old boy, had become so hooked to cricket after Bangladesh won the ICC Trophy the previous year that I made up my mind to become a cricketer.

So, I began practising under former national leg-spinner Wahidul Gani at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. One day he called and asked me to collect a tracksuit from him, told me to wear it and wait outside the stadium premises before the third final of the Silver Jubilee Independence Cup between India and Pakistan in Dhaka.

I was still unaware that I was chosen as the ball boy along with a few other youngsters, including Mohammad Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees, who would be watching the game from the boundary ropes and help fielders return the ball from the fence.

I can still remember wearing the red Coca Cola tracksuit and entering the ground to witness my first ever international cricket match, that too between fierce archrivals India and Pakistan.

For the first few minutes I was stunned – I couldn't move or, truth be told, even feel -- when I saw the likes of Saeed Anwar, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Inzamam-ul-Haq and others emerge from the dressing room and head to the ground for the warm up session.

After a while I managed to gather myself somewhat and realised that this was my chance to take the autographs of all the players and I didn't miss out on that.

I was in heaven with all my cricketing heroes roaming beside me just like normal people, knocking the ball and I can remember that I even threw one ball to Aamer Sohail.

Going back to the game, it was also one of the most memorable matches in history. I saw the elegant and flawless Saeed Anwar striking a magnificent hundred along with Ijaz Ahmed as Pakistan posted a huge 314 for 5 in 48 overs. During the break, I got a box of polao and a soft drink from the authorities, which I enjoyed a lot, eating right in front of thousands of spectators, separated from them by a barbwire fence.

But I was still waiting for the potential coup de grace, which I had previously always witnessed on TV. Sachin and Sourav walked by me towards the pitch to open the innings for India and it gives me goosebumps even writing this.

In reply I witnessed yet another masterclass from Ganguly who struck a hundred equally entertaining as Anwar, while Sachin however was dismissed in the forties.

Robin Singh also chipped in and it turned out to be a very interesting affair when the weak floodlights had forced officials into a dilemma at the end of the match. It was decided that the match would be finished and then, it was Hrishikesh Kanitkar who struck the winning boundary off the penultimate delivery to help win India a thriller by three wickets.

Back then, totals over 300 in ODIs were quite rare and I couldn't thank my luck more for what I had witnessed as it was then a world record for the highest successful chase in ODIs.

22 years have gone by and I can hardly recall many of the past incidents of my life, but I will never forget my first ever cricket match, experience from the field, till I die.

 

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