DHAKA: Team India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni may find it difficult to recollect when he had last taken a rickshaw ride, but he is scheduled to take one on Thursday when captains of all the 14 participating countries are taken around the new-look Bangabandhu Stadium on tri-cycles during a glitzy opening ceremony of the 2011 World Cup.
In a nation where rickshaws continue to be the most popular mode of conveyance, it is Bangladesh’s way of fusing tradition with modernity. The Pontings and Sangakkaras may find Thursday’s rickshaw ride amusing but, for the 14 rickshawalas handpicked to ferry the cricketing luminaries — it could well be a life-changing experience. As television cameras capture the moment and telecast the images to a worldwide audience, they will not only get their two minutes of fame but also become part of World Cup history, leaving the rest of their ilk to envy these chosen 14.
The much-hyped rickshaw ride is not the only thing that will be on view during the two-hour-long opening ceremony whose tickets have long been sold out. A few thousand fans who braved long queues and to buy tickets can consider themselves lucky because it offers them two shows for the price of one. The gates of the stadium will open at 2.30pm (3pm IST) and fans will be treated to a pre-show (from 4 to 6pm) before the big show gets under way with the welcome song — O prithibi, tumi aaj chine nao (O world, it’s time to know us) — sung by local artistes.
The high point of the function is expected in the segment where Canadian rock singer Bryan Adams takes over from top singers from the three host nations — Bangladesh, Indian and Sri Lanka — following the formal opening of the tournament by prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who has spared no effort in branding the country’s image with the ICC’s quadrennial showpiece event.
Three of Bangladesh’s top lady singers — Runa Laila, Sabina Yasmin and Mumtaz will kick off this segment by belting out some of their chart-bursting numbers, while the mellifluous voice of Sonu Nigam will tug at our heart strings even as the 14 skippers enjoy a rickshaw ride. And there will the trio of Shankar, Ehsan and Loy to sing the theme song De Ghuma Ke (whack it will all your might) in Hindi, Bengali and English to set the tone of the competition which involves a staggering 49 matches spread over six weeks. There will also be a band from Sri Lanka to entertain the fans before Adams gives it to us straight from the heart in what promises to be a one night love affair.
The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB), which was keen to rope in Shakira for the opening ceremony, opted for Adams after the representatives of the Colombian singer reportedly asked for a cool $2 million appearance fee!
An aerial cricket show, touted to be first of its kind, promises to wow the spectators. The last time the World Cup was staged in the sub-continent in 1996, the opening ceremony at the Eden Gardens had been an unmitigated disaster. First-time co-hosts, Bangladesh, are taking every precaution to prevent any glitches. Having spruced up the nation’s capital for the World Cup, the Hasina government is ready to showcase Bangladesh in a new light even as Dhaka doubles up as the capital of the cricket world for the next few days.