Curtains went off the World Cup 2011 with spectacular displays at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Thursday evening.
The official opening ceremony of the 10th cricket World Cup began around 6:10pm after the arrival of prime minister Sheikh Hasina at the stadium.
Hasina declared open the biggest-ever sporting event in the country around 7:10pm, with stunning fireworks and laser show that added grandeur to the grand opening, organised jointly by the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).
“We feel greatly privileged to co-host the cricket extravaganza in our beautiful country,” the prime minister told her audience at the big bowl.
She hoped that the fraternity among the nations would be further strengthened through this World Cup.
The prime minister thanked all the event-related officials, organisers, ICC and the cricket-loving countrymen for their great enthusiasm and cooperation in making the event a grand success.
The tournament is being co-hosted by Bangladesh, along with India and Sri Lanka. Of the 49 matches, eight will be played in the country, while the finals will be played in Mumbai, India on April 2.
Earlier, in his welcome address, BCB president A H M Mostafa Kamal thanked the ICC for giving Bangladesh the opportunity to organise the event and the prime minister for ensuring adequate flow of funds.
He said the BCB would also patronise women’s cricket and the construction of a cricket stadium in Cox’s Bazar. Besides, he vowed to popularise cricket in rural areas, too.
ICC president Sharad Pawar struck an instant chord with the audience when he uttered some Bangla words in his speech. He expressed his happiness over the grand opening of the event.
Performers then gathered at the stadium’s main stage in the centre of the field, a 60-foot dais, and sang the national anthem of Bangladesh.
Video footages on the earlier World Cup events were telecast on two big screens in the north galleries.
The welcome song, “O Prithibi, Ebar Eshey Banglake Nao Chiney…” (Hey world, come and know Bangladesh) was recited by singer Ibrar Tipu, Arnab, Tapu, Kona, Balam and Hridoy Khan on the main stage. Mila and Elita sang its English version.
Later, the World Cup mascot ‘Stumpy’ was drove into the field on a traditional rickshaw-van, with the captains of the participating 14 countries following in other rickshaws.
Bangladesh witnessed several firsts in this colourful and high-tech opening ceremony. Of them, remote-controlled birds flying allover the stadium and a giant screen displaying the World Cup trophy at the 22-storey Shilpa Bank Bhaban (complex) in the vicinity of the stadium left Dhakaites dumbstruck.
Artistes hanging from ‘no where’ also presented an on-screen cricket show — a perfect feast to the viewers’ eyes.
Indian artistes staged ‘Symphony of Colours’, while those from Sri Lanka performed choreography titled ‘The Pearl of Indian Ocean’.
Bangladesh’s legendary artistes Sabina Yasmin, Runa Laila and Mamtaz Begum performed during the host’s part.
In this part, the country’s history since the 1952 Language Movement until the 1971 Liberation War was depicted through various types of choreography, songs and laser-ray presentations.
A dance performance under the direction of Shamim Ara Nipa and Shibly Mohammad was also presented.
Around 2,100 school and college students and 350 members of the Armed Forces presented a cultural programme depicting the glorious Language Movement, War of Liberation, Bangla New Year and traditional dances of the indigenous communities. The historic March 7 speech of independence architect Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was played out on the occasion.
Viewers also enjoyed a short concert by globally-acclaimed Canadian rock singer Bryan Adams.
Later, theme song ‘De Ghumma Ke…’ was recited in four languages. The troika of music directors Shankar Mahdevan, Ehsaan Noorani and Loy from Bollywood had composed the song.
With massive Chinese fireworks for around 20 minutes in the sky, which formed a full moon, the ceremony saw a perfect ending.
Before the grand opening, a short programme began around 4:50pm with an instrumental composition by the armed forces’ orchestra amid a mammoth cheering and dancing crowd.
A 50-munite performance was also staged when Tapu, Rinku, Mahadi and a few new faces recited Bengali songs at the centre stage.