The Millennium Rugby Stadium is located on the banks of the River Taff in Cardiff. Although it is a rugby stadium, the 2017 Champions League final was held at the venue. We made our temporary abode at The River House, situated on the bank directly opposite. Looking out the window we saw the serene river and the equally peaceful street running alongside. On Saturday morning, however, that street became raucous and the sounds were very familiar.
Large groups dressed in green and red, waving flags were noisily passing by. Having not seen many Bangladeshis here, I struck up a few conversations. A majority came from London, some from Birmingham and Bristol.
When they learnt that they were talking to a sports journalist from back home, they asked: “Why didn’t they take Rubel [Hossain] against New Zealand? He will be there today, right?” Rubel is no Waqar Younus, but on Saturday his value to the Bangladesh fans was no less. He was the bowler who delivered the famous win over England in the 2015 World Cup match at Adelaide, so not seeing him in the eleven against the same opposition caused a small uproar after the match. “Why wasn’t Rubel there? Why did we choose to field? Why such a timid approach?”
After Indians, Bangladeshi supporters now form the biggest contingent of supporters wherever a cricket world event is taking place. While they dominated at The Oval, the Bangladesh contingent was not as strong at the Cardiff Wales Stadium where England supporters dominated, but the Bangladeshis did make their presence felt.