Shakib al Hasan of Bangladesh holds a captain's media conference on arrival in Dhaka. ((Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images))

Beggars are being paid to keep a distance. Bus and car owners are under orders to paint and repair ramshackle vehicles or risk fines.

Bangladesh wants to make a good impression at the World Cup, and is taking its role as co-host very seriously.

When Bangladesh takes on India in the opening match of the 10th edition on Feb. 19, it will be the biggest sporting occasion ever in the country which gained independence in 1971.

The power grid is being bolstered, so that World Cup matches aren't hampered by the daily electricity shortages that plague the country in peak hours. Public holidays are being proposed and students asked to stay home on match days to clear some of the regular traffic gridlock.


  • Shakib Al Hasan (captain)
  • Mohammad Ashraful
  • Raqibul Hassan
  • Nazmul Hossain
  • Rubel Hossain
  • Tamim Iqbal
  • Naeem Islam
  • Shafiul Islam
  • Imrul Kayes
  • Shariar Nafees
  • Mushfiqur Rahim
  • Abdur Razzak
  • Mahmudullah Riad
  • Suhrawardi Shuvo
  • Zunaed Siddique

And security is a key priority, with extra police stationed in and around stadiums and a special military contingent and helicopters are on standby to help out.

"It's a challenging global event," said Benazir Ahmed, commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police. "We've taken all measures keeping in mind all aspects of security."

Pakistan was stripped of its right as co-host after a deadly terror attack on the Sri Lanka team's bus en route to a test match at Lahore in 2009. Ahmed said the national security forces were doing everything possible to ensure the safety of players and fans, including armed escorts for all teams to and from matches.

"We'll not be reactive but pro-active," he said. "We're prepared enough.

"We'll do our best."

Home Affairs minister Shahara Khatun said there was no specific terrorist threat to Cup matches in Bangladesh, but the government wasn't prepared to take any chances.

Special security forces conducted a mock drill at Mirpur's Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium last weekend, and were confident every contingency was covered.

The Ministry of Communications said there'd be access restrictions to roads earmarked to transport players and officials between venues, with local commuters encouraged to use alternative routes.

The authorities in Dhaka are granting some magistrates powers to impose on-the-spot fines for motorists whose vehicles aren't deemed roadworthy and have encouraged owners to try and make their cars look "new" before the World Cup begins.

In the meantime, police continue to clear beggars and hawkers from major streets in the capital and in the southern city of Chittagong near where World Cup matches will be played.

Dhaka, a sprawling city of more than 10 million people, has about 100,000 beggars, while thousands of people make a living selling cheap products on streets and laneways.

Chittagong mayor Manzurul Alam said Sunday that the city will pay about 300 physically disabled beggars up to 150 takas ($2.11) a day to keep clear of the World Cup venue which will host two Group B matches and allow "tourists and guests" to move around freely.

"Initially, it will continue for three months until the end of April," Alam said. "We are planning to permanently rehabilitate them after that."

Chittagong, the second largest city in Bangladesh, is located 135 miles (215 kilometres) southeast of Dhaka.

Organizers have spent millions of dollars refurbishing venues in both host cities.

State Minister for Youth and Sports M. Ahad Ali Sarker says he is happy with the renovation and construction work of Bangabanghu National Stadium, Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium and other venues.

Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka's Mirpur, with a World Cup capacity of almost 26,000, will host six matches while Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong will host two. Three other stadiums have been prepared as backup and for practice venues.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board has upgraded the venues with modern facilities such as floodlight, electronic scoreboard, electronic replay screen, tri-vision sightscreen and public address sound system to make the event a success.

The Bangladesh Cricket Board has constructed fun zones in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna and Cox's Bazar, where crowds can gather to watch all the matches on giant screens.

Dhaka's streets are getting a facelift with plants and billboards with pictures of the Bangladesh team players. Broken sidewalks are being fixed. Flags with ICC logos are being installed on lampposts. Newspapers are publishing interviews with former cricketers and commentators while television channels are airing special World Cup programs.

Abdus Samad, an NGO worker in Mirpur, said at last some pavements in his neighbourhood are being repaired.

"Thanks to the cricket, at last we are having new look roads in my area," he said. "It's like we will have to worship our cricketers — treat them as our heroes."

Sponsors and local businesses are getting behind the tournament.

Beximco, the official sponsor of Bangladesh team, has made a giant "Wish Campaign" bat as a symbol of good luck for the team and encouraged thousands of people to sign their names on it.

Despite all the good will, there's no guarantee the tournament will be trouble-free. Authorities raided the headquarters of the opposition party in the Bangladeshi capital Monday as they tried to end the group's strike to protest spiraling commodity prices and crime. Schools and businesses were shut in cities across the country in a dawn-to-dusk strike. Demonstrators took to the streets in several areas. In some places, police fired tear gas and arrested protesters.

The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which is led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, also accuses the government of failing to properly regulate the country's capital market, which recently plummetted, fuelling violence on the streets, and says the government oppresses opposition activists.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Zia's archrival, denies the allegations and says the main opposition party is trying to destabilize the country.

For most fans, though, cricket is the priority.

"This is a great show for us," Sabbir Ahmed, a bank official in Dhaka, told The Associated Press. "I am preparing for it.

"I start my day reading stories on cricket. I am waiting for the first match."

He's typical of the local cricket fans, who take special pride in the tournament opening in Dhaka. Bangladesh produced one of the upset results of the last World Cup to beat India by five wickets in the Caribbean, and the locals are hoping for a similar result at home.

"I am so happy that the opening match will be here," local school teacher Moshiur Rahman said. "This is a great honour for us.

"It shows the world can depend on us for such a big event."

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