If teams stop touring Bangladesh, terrorists will win: Bashar

Former Bangladesh skipper asks countries not to give in to terror.

Mumbai: July has been a cruel month when terror struck leaving the world helter-skelter. The Paris attacks didn’t stop the European Championship but a couple of days after Portugal lifted the trophy, a cargo truck in Nice (France) killed 84, injured more than 300 people — this episode occurred exactly a fortnight after an upscale café in Dhaka (Bangladesh) was attacked by gunmen killing 28, including 18 foreigners. Both the countries are known for their sporting prowess but future tours and tournaments are under scanner.

After struggling through the eighties and limping to the nineties, the Bangladesh cricket team is now a force to reckon with; they have also been a significant venue for tournaments like Asia Cup, ICC World Twenty20 and the ICC U-19 World Cup. But recently, England limited-overs skipper Eoin Morgan raised concerns about touring the Asian country (scheduled later this year) after the brutal attack on the foreigners. Is Bangladesh, the new Pakistan then?

“We have organised many tournaments in the past and international teams have come and played here, there has never been a problem. What happened in Dhaka was beyond our control. We never imagined something like this could happen but if teams stop playing cricket here, it will be celebrating the terrorists’ success,” said Habibul Bashar, one of the successful captains (1995-2008) of Bangladesh.

“I deeply regret the occurrence in Dhaka. It is totally unacceptable. We aren’t barbarous, we aren’t killers. I beg people not to draw conclusions about our country by this act because people of Bangladesh aren’t involved in it. Talking about cricket, one knows how the spectators and fans are, they worship the sport,” he added.

In the recent past, Bangladesh tasted success in ODI cricket against India and South Africa. They even knocked England out of the ICC World Cup last year.

“In the past tournaments, nobody felt uncomfortable or complained about security in Bangladesh. Whenever a team came to Bangladesh, our government provided the best security,” said Bashar, under whose leadership Bangladesh beat India in the ICC World Cup in 2007.

The 43-year-old urged nations to unite and fight the fear.

Bangladesh started their cricket from 1979, played their first ODI match in 1986 against Pakistan and hosted Asia Cup five times – 1988, 2000, 2012, 2014 and 2016 when the format was transformed to Twenty20.

“If people come together and stand by each other in such tough times, it will do us good. If teams stop coming to Bangladesh, the terrorists will be successful in their motive to spread fear.

“Since the Dhaka terror attack didn’t concern us, I request teams to come here and continue pre-planned tours. They can come here without fear. It took us a lot to reach where we are today, we have struggled for more than 20 years. If we can’t play on from here, we will have to regret and start from scratch,” urged Bashar.

The nation has been producing quality cricketers like Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman who are popular in the IPL as well. Their talent reflects the strong domestic structure in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh cricket fans are known to be eccentric about their team but Bashar said the people do not believe in division, they believe in brotherhood and love.

“When there is a cricket match in Bangladesh, the entire world is our audience. People enjoy together,” he said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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