Underdog comes out on top

Man of the Match Austin Codrington, (left) does a victory jig after nailing Hannan Sarkar of Bangladesh. — Pic. AP-— Pic. AP Man of the Match Austin Codrington, (left) does a victory jig after nailing Hannan Sarkar of Bangladesh. — Pic. AP

THE celebrations that followed the victory were as memorable as the win itself. And the spirit of the game shone as brightly as the floodlights at Durban's Kingsmead ground. It was indeed the night of the underdog.

THE celebrations that followed the victory were as memorable as the win itself. And the spirit of the game shone as brightly as the floodlights at Durban's Kingsmead ground. It was indeed the night of the underdog.

Paceman Austin Codrington had Mohamed Rafique caught by a jubilant John Davison at mid-wicket, and all hell broke loose in the Canadian camp, even as the Bangladeshis hung their heads in shame.

Canada, making a return to the World Cup after 24 years, had ambushed a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC) by 60 runs in a Pool `B' match, defending a score of 180. Codrington, a Jamaican-born Canadian citizen, playing the part of the hero, finished with five for 27.

However, this was a night when everyone was a hero in this team of salesmen, teachers and students. A team of amateurs that nursed a dream — to compete and compete well on the big stage.

On February 11, the outfit accomplished more than just that, fielding and bowling with commitment even as Bangladesh capitulated, triggering serious questions about its status as a Test playing nation.

Skipper Joseph Harris, who had turned out for Barbados before leaving for Canada, summed it up well when he said, "We're amateur players and have never played at this level before. It's obviously the best day of our lives. Our goal was to get our country on the World Cup map and get it the exposure it needs.''

All the members of the Canadian side, that includes players born in nine different countries, were making their World Cup debut, and they did make a splash, even if it was against lowly Bangladesh, that has won only three of its 62 ODIs.

Canada did have its task cut out after being bowled out for 180 in 49.1 overs, and the team did put its heart and soul into the defence of a below-par score. Pacemen Davis Joseph and Sanjayan Thuraisingam operated at a surprisingly lively pace and there was some bounce too for them from the Kingsmead surface.

Opener Al Sahariar was the first to depart, scalped by Joseph, and the experienced Habibul Bashar had not yet opened his account when he was pouched by `keeper Ashish Bagai, off Thuraisingam, who is built like a tank.

Hannan Sarkar, opening the innings, made 25, Sanwar Hossain at No 5, also got to the same score, and Alok Kopali tallied 19, but the rest hardly contributed as Bangladesh lost its way from 106 for four, when victory was a distinct possibility, to 120 all out in just 28 overs in a tale of shocking surrender.

Codrington, a slim wiry Caribbean with a fluent, free-flowing action, brought the ball into the right handers, and either straightened or got the odd delivery to leave them, compounding problems for the Bangladesh batsmen, whose technique against the moving ball was seen in poor light.

Off-spinner John Davison, who has first class experience with Victoria and South Australia, bowled a lovely line, kept the pressure on the batsmen and picked up two wickets too, while Bagai was outstanding behind the stumps, leaping and flying to hold the edges. Skipper Harris marshalled his resources in a calm, unruffled manner, and his men responded.

Earlier in the day, Canada, which has the dubious distinction of registering the lowest score in the World Cup — 45 against England in Manchester in '79 — managed to reach 180 after Harris elected to bat.

Ian Billcliff, batting at No. 4, top-scored with 42, before being run-out, and the score appeared inadequate, before the bowlers and fielders — the Canadian catching was often spectacular — got the job done for their team.

There were bouquets for the winners, and even the Canadian press that has little time for cricket in an ice-hockey mad country hailed the victory. Predictably, there was an angry reaction back home in Bangladesh. The side that had humbled mighty Pakistan in '99, stood exposed on the big stage this time.

The scores:

Canada: I. Maraj c Sanwar Hossain b Tapash Baisya 24; J. Davison b Mashrafe Mortaza 8; D. Chumney (run out) 28; I.Billcliff (run out) 42; J. Harris c Khaled Mashud b Sanwar Hossain 4; N. De Groot c Alok Kapali b Sanwar Hossain 0; F. Samad lbw b Alok Kapali 13; A. Bagai b Mashrafe Mortaza 7; S. Thuraisingam lbw b Mohammad Rafique 6; A. Codrington c Tapash Baisya b Manjural Islam 16; D. Joseph (not out) 9; Extras (lb-7, w-14, nb-2) 23; Total (in 49.1 overs) 180.

Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-47, 3-70, 4-92, 5-104, 6-130, 7-134, 8-146, 9-159.

Bangladesh bowling: Manjural Islam 8.1-1-30-1, Mashrafe Mortaza 8-0-38-2, Tapash Baisya 3-0-26-1, Mohammad Rafique 10-2-34-1, Sanwar Hossain 10-0-26-2, Alok Kapali 10-0-19-1.

Bangladesh: Hannan Sarkar c Bagai b Codrington 25; Al-Sahariar c sub (Samad) b Joseph 9; Habibul Bashar c Bagai b Thuraisingam 0; Ehsanul Haque c Bagai b Joseph 13; Sanwar Hossain lbw b Davison 25; Alok Kapali lbw b Codrington 19; Khaled Mashud c sub (Samad) b Davison 1; Mohammad Rafique c Davison b Codrington 12; Tapash Baisya c Sattaur b Codrington 0; Mashrafe Mortaza c Sattaur b Codrington 0; Manjural Islam (not out) 0; Extras (lb-2, w-24) 16; Total (in 28 overs) 120.

Fall of wickets: 1-33, 2-44, 3-46, 4-76, 5-106, 6-108, 7-108, 8-119, 9-119.

Canada bowling: Joseph 8-1-42-2, Thuraisingam 6-0-34-1, Codrington 9-3-27-5, Davison 5-1-15-2.