Thousands of fans flooded the streets of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka and the prime minister Monday promised a public celebration after the under-19 team won the World Cup in the nation’s biggest cricket triumph.
Bangladesh stunned four-time winners India in the final of the Under-19 World Cup late Sunday in South Africa to record a three-wicket victory over the favourites.
The elated supporters, some wearing the team jersey and painted from head to toe as a tiger — the national team’s nickname — held spontaneous victory parades and shouted “Bangladesh, Bangladesh”.
National newspapers hailed the teen cricketers, with one publication likening Bangladesh captain Akbar Ali to Mughal emperor Akbar the Great.
“Young Tigers Rule the World”, roared the front-page headline of the largest-circulating English newspaper, The Daily Star.
“The Young Tigers created arguably the most seminal moment in its cricketing history at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom yesterday, ending their wait for a major global trophy,” the Star wrote.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said a “mass reception” would be held for the team once they return to Dhaka.
“They beat four-time champions India. These boys are very brave,” she told a weekly cabinet meeting.
“This is the best gift in Mujib Borsho (year),” Hasina said, referring to the year-long celebration of what would have been the 100th birthday of Bangladesh’s founding President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is her father.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board is expected to announce financial rewards for the players.
“We cannot express this achievement in words. A World Cup is World Cup… we were close many times in the past but it did not happen,” the governing body’s spokesman Jalal Yunus said.
The under-19 team played 30 youth one-day internationals in two years before the tournament, winning 18 matches.
Their best showing at the World Cup ahead of the tournament was a third-place finish as hosts in 2016.