Today is May 31. A special day in Bangladesh cricket. In international cricket, when playing against a big team was a dream, then when Bangladesh went to play in the World Cup for the first time, they saw the first victory against Pakistan! Yes, in the 1999 England World Cup, the Bangladesh team defeated Pakistan by 62 runs in Northampton on this very day. After 28 runs from 34 balls with the bat, Khaled Mahmud took 3 wickets for 31 runs with the ball and made the victory of Bangladesh easier that day. In an interview with Prothom Alo, former national team captain and current BCB director Khaled Mahmood recalled the victory 22 years ago:
Among the Test playing nations, Bangladesh lost to Pakistan for the first time that day. That too on the stage of the World Cup. How was your day
Khaled Mahmood: For us, it is a big day for my life. This is the first time we have lost to a Test playing country. Earlier I won with Kenya, Scotland. But none of them were Test playing nations. That win also played an important role in our Test status. Losing Pakistan in the World Cup was a big deal. I feel lucky to be with that team.
I said, we will win two matches. We will lose to Scotland. And we’re going to make a mess. I don’t know why I said that then. That’s what happened later!
Khaled Mahmood, former captain of Bangladesh cricket team
It was your bowling that made the difference that day.
Mahmud: I had to take a new ball because Shant (Hasibul Hossain) and Monju did not play that day. I was happy too. Because, the ball swings in English condition. I was also basically a swing bowler. When we go down to bat and run on two arrows, a positive feeling comes over us. There was a swing that day. But it was difficult to expect to win. Because, Pakistan was a very good team. Later when the wickets started falling one by one, their main batsmen started getting out, a confidence came in us. Especially since Wasim Akram was out. The whole team actually contributed to that victory. But taking wickets with new balls was very important. Getting out batsmen like Selim Malik is definitely something special.
Ever wondered, will be the man of the match in the World Cup?
Mahmud: It is a matter of great pride for a cricketer. This was a big issue especially in the context of Bangladesh cricket at that time. I remembered my family a lot then. Because, without their help, it would not have been possible for me to become a cricketer. At that time we did not get a chance to play a match. It goes without saying that there were no more opportunities than now. We learned the game by watching it on TV. From that place it was a big achievement for me to be Man of the Match in a place like the World Cup in England.
Or did you predict before leaving the country of service, Bangladesh team will win two matches in the World Cup!
Mahmoud: We had a press conference before leaving the country. Bulbul Bhai (Aminul Islam) was being questioned as the captain. I was also asked a question. How many matches can we win in the World Cup? Without thinking anything I said, we will win two matches. We will lose to Scotland. And we’re going to make a mess. I don’t know why I said that then. That’s what happened later!
Despite not winning the title, the Pakistani team was called the best team in the 1999 World Cup. Did you say that too?
Mahmud: There were a lot of great cricketers in that team, like Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram, Waqar Yunus, Saqlain Mustaq. If you think about the bowling attack, it can be said that Pakistan’s bowling was the best. Bidyut (Shahriar Hossain), OP (Mehrab Hossain) started very well against that team. Akram Bhai had a great innings. We played fearless cricket. We had nothing to lose.
How was the celebration of the team after the victory?
Mahmud: Back in the dressing room at the end of the match, I thought, everyone is crazy! I will lose to Pakistan, no one even thought about it! It was more fun from the field after returning to the hotel. God knows how many Bangladeshis came to the hotel that day. Many bring a variety of food for us. We chat and talk together for many nights. I had a lot of fun that night.
Q: Going to work for coach Gordon Greenidge before the match was a big event that day.
Mahmoud: That’s right, everyone was happy after winning that day, but the start of the day was not good. Coach Gordon Greenidge left us that day. There was a sadness in us. Gordon spent four years with us. None of us liked his farewell. His departure could have been better. No coach lives his whole life. But what he has done alone for the Bangladesh team is incomparable. At that time there was no separate coach for batting, bowling and fielding. Gordon was all of us. He was very close to us. But if we can’t respect people, then that’s the problem. Under him we became champions in the ICC Trophy. These are not things to forget. It will actually be a black chapter of that golden day.