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Monday, November 11, 2019

In the lead-up to the 2019 World Cup, we take a look back on World Cups past through the eyes of Bangladesh’s former World Cup stars. Alok Kapali featured in 17 Tests, 69 ODI and seven T20Is for Bangladesh and also represented the Tigers in the 2003 World Cup. Kapali, who never won a game at the quadrennial mega event with Bangladesh as the side lost all their matches in 2003, shared some of his World Cup memories and more during an interview with The Daily Star’s Nabid Yeasin.

The Daily Star (TDS): How did it feel to play in the 2003 World Cup, your only World Cup with Bangladesh?

Alok Kapali (AK): The World Cup is a big tournament for any player and at that time it was also a very huge thing for me and every other player of the squad. We did not have a strong or compact squad like the one that will go to play the upcoming World Cup, but for me and players like Tapash [Baisya] and many other junior players, it was the first World Cup and we were excited to do something good for our country.

TDS: Do you regret not winning any matches with Bangladesh back in 2003?

AK: We could not do well in any matches of that World Cup. I still regret not winning any matches, especially since we should have won the game against Canada. There were however some small individual performances as Mashrafe [Bin Mortaza] had some good games in that World Cup. But the thing is that it did not matter as we could not perform well as a team back then. And we should have actually won the matches against Kenya and Canada as the other teams were stronger than us. We were a better team than both Canada and Kenya but still, we could not beat them as we could not perform consistently. At that time, what usually happened was that we lost quick wickets at the top and then it would become very tough to recover even after scoring runs in the latter period. Had we been a bit more consistent at the top then the results would have been different.

TDS: What is your most memorable experience in World Cup?

AK: One thing that I will always remember about that World Cup is that I got to see and meet many great players. Bangladesh were not grouped with Pakistan and I had actually never played against Wasim Akram but at that time I got to meet him. Then again, I also met Sachin Tendulkar and so, I will always cherish the fact that I got to be in a World Cup where many great players participated. I will always remember those moments very fondly.

TDS: Compared to the squad you played with in 2003, how much do you think the mentality has changed over the years?

AK: At that time we used to win matches against teams like Zimbabwe or Kenya but it would be very tough for us to win games against big teams. We used to post average totals like 180, 200 or 220 runs and that was not enough to win matches but now we are chasing 250 or even 300 plus runs and while batting first, we are posting totals above 300. So now we have confidence and the team actually takes to the field to win every match.

TDS: What is your view regarding the Bangladesh’s current World Cup squad?

AK: All the players who were selected for the World Cup have rightly booked their places in the squad by playing really good cricket over the years in ODIs, T20s and even in domestic tournaments. The current squad has really good players and I think that they will do well and I believe that it is possible for this team to even reach the knockout stages.

TDS: Do you have any message for the Bangladesh team?

AK: I actually have a message for the Big Five of Bangladesh as I would like to tell Tamim [Iqbal], Mashrafe, Shakib [Al Hasan], Mushfiqur [Rahim] and Mahmudullah that if they fulfil their responsibilities properly and play according to their roles, then I believe that Bangladesh can reach the semifinals and do something good in this World Cup.

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