Choice of game
For cricket-crazy Bangladeshi fans living in the United States, this match was a dream come true! I live in Arizona, and I booked my ticket to Florida to watch these two games on the weekend. People from all over the USA, from different states, came to Florida to cheer the Tigers. After the first T20I in St Kitts, captain Shakib Al Hasan, said he was looking forward to the support in Lauderhill, and the Bangladesh fans in the USA didn't disappoint him. It's like a World Cup or an Olympics for us, which comes every four years; our chance to chant for Bangladesh live.
In the first game, it was Tamim Iqbal's blistering 22-run over against Andre Russell . Bangladesh were 116 for 3 from 15 overs, and then Tamim scored 22 off the next five deliveries. Though he got out trying to hit the fourth one, his three sixes left the fans spellbound. Tamim got the fans dancing. Tamim was named Man of the Match, but Shakib Al Hasan was the people's Man of the Match (we were happy when he won the Man of the Series), for his 60 off 38 and his magnificent bowling effort of 4-0-19-2.
In the second game, it was the innings of Liton Das, which was an exhibition in batting as an art. His innings, which relied on timing and use of wrists, left spectators rapt by its beauty and grace. It reminded us of the days of Mark Waugh, Saeed Anwar, Mohammad Azharuddin, Damien Martyn and Mohammad Yousuf - the flag-bearers of stylish batting in the 1990s and early 2000s. In the present age of power cricket, you don't see that style of batting often. Liton is of that rare kind who will make you go "whoa" when he times the ball, and as a Bangladeshi fan, it's disappointing to see him get out in the 20s and 30s after playing three-four delightful shots. But in the third T20I, he scored a mouth-watering 61 runs off 32 balls, which made the crowd happy and made him the performer of the day. However, we were expecting a century from him, and both Liton and the team management need to work on his temperament. Liton is a great asset for Bangladesh and for world cricket. He shouldn't be wasted.
In the chase, Russell was taking the game away from Bangladesh. In no time, he hit five sixes, and the Bangladeshi crowd was trying its best to get him out. One group was using "Chhu mantar" (magic words), while others stuck to prayers - a very typical subcontinental way. When Russell finally got out, the crowd was in jubilation, knowing for sure that match and series had been won.
Things I'd have changed about the match
It would have been better if the second game wasn't shortened, since the excitement would have been more. Bangladesh would've easily pulled it off because Russell was out and West Indies didn't have much of a chance. The rain came and stopped in a few minutes, but the outfield was not ready to play. It's only when the announcement happened we realised that Bangladesh had won the game and the series. We missed the adrenaline rush of watching the victory being clinched.
In both the matches it was Ariful Haque who got targeted by the crowd. In the first match, he dropped a sitter at deep midwicket and West Indies hit two consecutive sixes in that same over. A few spectators started to abuse Ariful, while others stopped them saying that missing a catch is a part of the game. But in the second match when Ariful failed to connect the ball in the 19th and 20th overs, and faced four dot balls, the crowd was angry. "Why can't he take singles and give the strike to Mahmudullah, who is striking the ball well." And that's avoiding the words that I can't put here.
An interesting thing happened when Mosaddek Hossain, the substitute fielder, was walking along the boundary line, with a water bottle in his hand. Spectators on the mound called out his name and asked for the water. And surprisingly, Mosaddek threw his bottle of water to the crowd. A few minutes later Mosaddek was back again and he did the same thing. It seemed like that group of Bangladesh fans was eager to have some drops of the national team's water, as if it were holy.
As Shakib expected, Bangladeshis came out in full support. It was like a Dhaka traffic jam outside the stadium and it took more than half an hour to park our car.
Banner of the Day
Talking about the Dhaka traffic, a lot of people had placards showing their support to the ongoing student movement about "Safe Road, Safe Traffic" happening in Bangladesh. Banners like "We want safe roads, We want safe Bangladesh" were most common.
I have always heard that West Indians are the most entertaining cricket crowd ever. We have seen that on TV. But this time we experienced it. They were only few of them, but they were very jolly and were dancing. Both Bangla and West Indian songs were played. A Bangladeshi spectator and a West Indian spectator exchanged their flags and kept chanting for both the teams together. That friendship and alliance was the highlight of the match for me. We play sport for that, not to make enemies.
It was a 9/10 performance from Bangladesh because we won both games. We, the non-resident Bangladeshis who went to watch the team play, were happy and satisfied with their performance. Yes, people were concerned about what's happening back in the country, the team brought back smiles to our faces. The person who wrote the placard, "Tigers, you are our last hope of happiness" was completely right. The dedication from fans to make it to Florida was rewarded with two wins. After the third T20I, the whole Bangladesh side did a victory lap thanking the supporters.