Bangladesh captain Akbar Ali was dealing with a personal loss as he lead his team’s historic run to a maiden ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup triumph in South Africa.
On January 22, Akbar’s elder sister Khadija Khatun died while giving birth to twins. It was a day after Bangladesh had registered their second win of the group stage in Potchefstroom.
The 18-year-old Akbar wasn’t informed of the tragedy but came to know about it through one of his siblings. “Akbar was closest to his sister. She loved Akbar a lot,” Akbar’s father was quoted as saying by Bangladesh daily Prothom Alo. “We did not want to inform him at first. He then called after the Pakistan match and questioned his brother why he was not kept in the loop. I did not have the courage to talk to him. I don’t know what to say.”
Akbar, though, kept his wits about him despite the nature of the loss.
He then went on to lead them into their maiden final where they beat defending champions and four time winners India in a low-scoring encounter. His first won an important toss and opted to bowl first.
His bowlers justified the call as they bowled out India for a low 177 on Sunday.
And then when Bangladesh collapsed in the chase despite a strong start, it was Akbar who partnered with opener Parvez Hossain Emon to keep them alive in the contest.
Akbar remained unbeaten on 43 off 77 as Bangladesh chased down a revised target of 170 to win by three wickets.
He was adjudged as the player-of-the-match as Bangladesh won their first ever world title in cricketing history.