Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged her people to hit the streets and party and opposition politicians have relaxed a nationwide shutdown to allow the country to celebrate reaching the Cricket World Cup quarterfinals at the expense of England.
Bangladesh’s 15-run win in Adelaide on Monday night put them through to the quarterfinals for the first time and sent England packing.
The streets of Bangladesh erupted in joy and Hasina encouraged the celebrations to continue.
The BNP-led 20-party alliance opposition relaxed the national strike by 12 hours to accommodate the celebrations. They have enforced a shutdown since early January, demanding fresh elections.
The politicians were quick to maximise the achievement of the cricket team.
Hasina, President Abdul Hamid and BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia all expressed their congratulations and the achievement was formally acknowledged in parliament.
News agency AFP reported that fans in cricket-mad Bangladesh hailed the victory as the country’s greatest sporting triumph.
Impromptu victory processions broke out across the country after the win was secured, with some of the loudest celebrations taking place at Dhaka University where around 5000 people had been watching the match on a big screen.
“I can’t believe that we’ve pulled it off. We’ve finally shaken off the tag of minnows. Two more victories and we’ll be in the final!” Rashid Ahmed, a 22-year-old student, said.
Fellow student Tamir Islam said: “I am sure no petrol bombs or molotov cocktails will go off today. We’re united in cherishing the biggest triumph in our sports history.”
Former national team captain Akram Khan, who skippered Bangladesh in the Tigers’ first World Cup appearance in 1999, rated the victory over England as one of the team’s finest moments.
“Let’s be clear, we were stronger than England in every department. It’s one of the most historic occasions in our cricket history,” Khan, who led Bangladesh to a controversial win over Pakistan in 1999, told AFP.