Fireworks explode at the opening ceremony of the ICC World Cup of Cricket in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
Dhaka, February 17 (Agencies) : International star Bryan Adams gave a rocking performance to set the tone for the Cricket World Cup 2011 that was ushered in with a grand opening ceremony. The official theme song sung by the trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy followed the return of the game`s showpiece event to the sub-continent after long hiatus of 15 years.
The evening saw the top politicians and officials rubbing shoulders to witness the biggest sporting spectacle for the cricket crazy sub-continent. Things started off with the Bangladeshi national anthem filling the air with the ‘Chayanot Choir’ doing the honours of performing it. A musical performance by the top Bangladeshi pop singers followed the anthem, setting a colourful theme for the evening. Then came-in the ICC World Cup 2011 mascot ‘Stumpy’, getting a huge cheer from the crowd.
An innovative introduction was given to the captains of the fourteen teams participating in the tournament as they were brought in the stadium on bright cycle rickshaws. A huge cheer filled the ground as the Indian skipper MS Dhoni came to take his place with the other captains. Indian singing star Sonu Nigam then filled the evening with his trademark spectacular musical performance. Singing in English, he urged all to be a shining light for a better future. His song ‘Let’s Go For Glory’ was an inspirational piece for all in attendance, marking the spirit of the tournament and the game of cricket. President of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, Mostafa Kamal, then gave the welcome address to a jam packed stadium, promising a grand event and extended a warm welcome to the world to come and witness the event. ICC President Sharad Pawar then said that it was historic day for all of the people of the sub-continent and gave credit to the Bangladesh organisers for the grand opening ceremony and said that it would be an event that would have no parallels in the near future. The stage was then occupied by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, who resonated the good will and declared the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 open.
The Bangladeshi capital, which spruced up itself for the biggest event in their cricketing history, took centre stage of the cricketing world with the start of the two-hour spectacle of song, dance and laser shows at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. The interesting theme the organisers came up with was the three performances depicting the culture and rhythm of the three host countries, starting with the Indian troupe. Dhol beats were the order of the performance that saw the ‘gidda’ and ‘garbha’ being performed.
Internationally-acclaimed rock star Bryan Adams and Indian singing trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy will be among the performers to set the stage for the tournament, reflecting the increasing role the entertainment aspect has started to be associated with the game. Two days later, on Feb 19, Bangladesh and co-hosts India clash in the inaugural game at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium at Mirpur, on Dhaka`s outskirts to herald the beginning of 43 days of action spread across 13 venues in three countries.
The other host country Sri Lanka start off their campaign against lowly Canada in a Group A encounter in Colombo on Sunday. The sub-continent had its first date with the World Cup when India and Pakistan hosted it in 1987 before Sri Lanka joined them in 1996. It is befitting that the World Cup will be held in the sub-continent this time when the region establishes itself as the nerve centre of the game, though 1992 champions Pakistan will not be one of the co-hosts and Bangladesh will be in the party in their silver jubilee year of initiation into one-day cricket. The tenth edition of cricket`s quadrennial showpiece, featuring 14 teams and 49 matches -- 29 in India, a dozen in Sri Lanka and eight in Bangladesh -- was not devoid of controversies. It had a nightmare of an initial road as Pakistan was stripped of its rights to host 14 matches due to the volatile condition in the country, mainly after attack on the Sri Lankan players in Lahore in early 2009 though it will get its share of revenue even without holding matches.
The reasons for stripping Pakistan of the World Cup matches by the ICC had nothing much to do with the country`s cricket board but it could not be said in the case of Indian authorities who failed to prepare the iconic Eden Gardens ready for the February 27 match between India and England.