ICC president Pawar starts his speech in Bengali

Dhaka, Feb 17 (PTI) The president of the InternationalCricket Council Sharad Pawar today surprised everyone as hedelivered the introductory lines of his speech at theinauguration ceremony of the World Cup in Bengali.

"Swagato (Welcome)," Pawar said at the BangabandhuStadium. "Bangladesh khoobi sundor desh (Bangladesh is abeautiful country)," the Indian Union Minister of Agriculturestated amid thunderous applause from a sell-out crowd.

There was more surprise as Pawar addressed the Banglacrowd saying, "Pradhan Mantrir haath dhore progotir potheegiye cholechen apnara (The Bangladesh Prime Minister isguiding you (Bangaldeshi public) towards the road toprogress)."

Pawar praised the local organisers for arranging theevent on such a grand scale.

"This will be a World Cup which everyone will remember,"Pawar said.

"I have been associated with two World Cup openingceremonies but this was organised on a grand scale."

Pawar thanked Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh andthe government of India for their support. He also thankedBCCI president Shashank Manohar and his Sri Lankan counterpartDS de Silva for their support.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received thebiggest cheer during the opening round of speeches but shemade a faux pas while announcing the tournament open inBengali.

She initially said "Biswa Cup Du Hajar Ek" (which meansWorld Cup 2001) but later corrected when she declared thetournament open in English.

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