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Curtains go up on World Cup marathon

Dhaka: A rickshaw ride for each of the 14 captains into the new-look Bangabandhu Stadium, a performance by Bangldesh’s pop stars and an opening song by Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam kick-started the opening ceremony of the 2011 World Cup and marked the start of a gruelling six-week sporting marathon.

Internationally-acclaimed rock star Bryan Adams and Indian singing trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy were among the performers to set the stage for the tournament, reflecting the increasing role the entertainment aspect has started to be associated with the game.

The 2011 ICC World Cup was declared open by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina amid thunderous applause. Hasina hoped the World Cup will strengthen the ties between the cricketing countries.

“I congratulate the cricket loving public for their great enthusiasm and cooperation to make this event a grand success,” she said.

She also extended her thanks to the International Cricket Council (ICC) for selecting Bangladesh as one of the hosts. She then declared the tournament open and placed her palm on a scanner setting off a series of breathtaking fireworks.

The 2-hour-15 minute-long ceremony will saw 3,500 performers putting up a colourful depiction of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi cultures, complete with song sequences by well-known artists.

Captains of the 14 participating nations got an unforgettable ride on tri-cycles (rickshaws) while music, folk songs and dances, breathtaking fireworks and the collective enthusiasm of the Bangladeshi capital ushered in the event.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni drew a loud applause while the biggest cheer was reserved for host captain Shakib Al Hasan as he waved to the crowd.

After all the captains assembled on the specially erected dias, Sonu Nigam then rendered the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ song.

Besides Sonu Nigam, top Bangladeshi vocalists Runa Laila, Sabina Yasmin and Mumtaz also crooned in front of a capacity crowd which was treated to a musical extravaganza in three languages – English, Hindi and Bangla.

But the show-stopper was undoubtedly Bryan Adams. He took centrestage with some of his all-time hits like ‘lets make it a night to remember’, ‘Summer of 69′ and ’18 till I die’ among others.

Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy rounded off a colourful evening by belting out the World Cup theme song ‘De Ghuma Ke’, which has been composed by them, amid loud cheer. A show of pyrotechnics then followed to put the World Cup well on its way.

Two days later, Bangladesh and co-hosts India will clash in the inaugural game at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur to herald the beginning of 43 days of action spread across 13 venues in three countries.

The other host country, Sri Lanka start off their campaign against lowly Canada in a Group A encounter in Colombo on Sunday.

The tenth edition of cricket’s quadrennial showpiece will feature 14 teams and 49 matches – 29 in India, a dozen in Sri Lanka and eight in Bangladesh.

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