On this day, 9 April 1997, 2006: The day to fulfill World Cup dream and Nafees heroics

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It will be a red letter day forever in the history of Bangladesh Cricket. It was the day to fulfill the long cherished dream of making a mark in the biggest stage of cricket, World Cup. Bangladesh faced against Scotland in the second Semi Final in ICC Champions trophy 1997.

Batting first, Bangladesh lost Atahar Ali Khan early in the innings. Then Naimur Rahman and Khaled Mashud made a  partnership of 39. Naimur departed for 26 and the best time of the match of Bangladesh came after that. Mashud and Aminul Islam added 115 runs in the third wicket and took the control of the match. Mashud scored 70, while Aminul scored 57. Minhajul Abedin scored a quickfire 39 to guide the team to a modest total of 243.

Chasing this, Scotland was never in comfort. They lost wickets in regular basis and eventually were bowled out for 171 runs. Mohammad Rafique took 5 wickets while Enamul Haque bagged 3 wickets. Bangladesh won quite comprehensively for 72 runs and qualified for World Cup first time ever.

9 April is memorable for Bangladesh for another occasion too. Shahriar Nafees made his maiden century on possibly the biggest occasion that anybody could only dreamed of. Nafees scored a fantastic 75 against Australia in the Natwest Series in the previous year, but he showed his class in the first test against the same opposition at Fatullah Khan Saheb Osmani Stadium, Fatullah in 2006.

Though Australia lost the ashes in last summer, but Ricky Ponting’s men remained the best in the world in both Test and ODI. So, before the start of the series Aussies were the clear favorite. On the other hand Bangladesh still struggled to show their growth in the longest format of the game and managed only 1 victory after getting the Test Status in 2000.

Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first. Shahriar Nafees and Javed Omar gave Bangladesh a great start with 51-runs in the opening stand which paved the way for Habibul Bashar and Nafees to build the Bangladesh innings. Nafees picked up his maiden first class hundred. His majestic innings came to an end when Stuart MacGill bowled him after tea of first day. Nafees scored 138 runs from 189 with 19 fours.

Before that, he hammered Australia’s strong bowling lineup combined with Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Jason Gillespie, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill all around the park. His 187 run partnership with Bashar and Rajin Saleh’s fifty helped Bangladesh to post a mammoth total of 427 runs in the first innings.

Bangladesh eventually were defeated by 3 wickets. Despite the loss, this test is still considered as one of the finest ever played by Bangladesh. Top of that, it was Nafees’s magnificent innings which inspired Bangladesh to play neck and neck against the number one side throughout the 5 day.