“This is indeed a very positive sign for Bangladesh cricket. This indicates Bangladesh are slowly and steadily building itself as a force to be reckoned in Test cricket. Plenty of positives to be taken from Chittagong but complacency must be avoided in Mirpur and discipline in batting must be maintained,” writes Faisal Caesar
Whenever the Tigers start a Test series, ‘Who cares about Bangladesh?’ is the response which we, the fans, mostly receive from the non-Bangladeshi cricket followers across the world. Such a harsh response has been nothing surprising though as since their entry in Test cricket; the Tigers have hardly been impressive in this five-day format. Time and again, they have been mauled in the most shameful manner. Hardly had they exhibited the right attitude while playing Test cricket and thus, their credibility in Test cricket has always been questioned – critics never showed any sort of sympathy towards them.
But nothing is static in this world. With the change of time, the world changes as well. With the change of time, a novice turns into a good professional and in the course of time, Bangladesh are learning pretty well about how to cope with the intricacies of Test cricket. You will sit back and ask about why it’s taking that long, as it’s been thirteen years now and still Bangladesh haven’t achieved anything significant. Well, some don’t take that long to establish themselves while the others take the slow-and-steady-wins-race way to establish themselves. Bangladesh have taken the slow-and-steady way to establish themselves as a force in Test cricket.
As usual, the interest regarding the first Test between Bangladesh and New Zealand at Chittagong amongst the non-Bangladeshi cricket followers was at its lowest ebb. And as usual, the Bangladeshi cricketers were trolled in some of the cricket groups on Facebook. Towards the minnows, these fans are always too harsh but any response should always be welcomed and harsh criticisms should always be gifted with spirited displays. In Chittagong, Bangladesh did the same.
The defiant last-wicket stand between BJ Watling and Trent Boult on the second day simply flattened the Bangladeshi bowlers. The Kiwis had posted a large total in their first innings and more often, Bangladesh are known to get unsettled whenever such huge totals are posted by the oppositions. Their start of the first innings was horrifying. In the twinkle of an eye, both the openers departed leaving the Bangladesh innings in tatters at 8-2. Entered Mominul Haque, the little boy from Cox’s Bazar who was picked ahead of the inform Naeem Islam and immediately Mominul shifted into fifth gear and started punishing the New Zealand attack with rare disdain.
Some of his offside stroke-play were eye-catching and reminded us of the great Kumar Sangakkara. As we all were left spellbound with Mominul’s scorching batting display, at the same time, the fear of Mominul’s short stay loomed large in our minds as well. As we all know that our batters come at the crease and start playing their strokes which seldom lasts long. But this time around, this didn’t happen. While Mominul was going all guns blazing at one end, at the other end, composure was provided by the debutante Marshall Ayub. A brisk but brief partnership was put and further damage was avoided.
In the third morning, Marshall and Shakib departed soon. We all started to fear another collapse. But a polished 121-run stand for the fifth wicket came up between Mominul and Mushfiq. Suddenly, Corey Anderson and Doug Bracewell removed Mominul and Mushfiq respectively. Mominul missed his double ton while Mushfiq was undone by a snoter from Bracewell. Another collapse was on the cards. But the gritty Nasir Hossain and Sohag Gazi settled down, avoided further collapse by notching up a 70-run stand for the seventh wicket. Nasir threw his wicket away at the fag end of the day with Bangladesh still trailing by a big margin.
On the fourth morning, Razzak departed soon with Bangladesh still trailing. A lead for the Kiwis was there on the takings but the Tigers made the Kiwis taste their own medicine as the Bangladeshi tail wagged and left the New Zealand bowlers mesmerized. Sohag Gazi notched up a cantankerous hundred while Robiul Islam provided the perfect foil to Gazi’s aggression with a steady 33. Bangladesh took a lead of 32 runs. A draw was expected but it didn’t happen without drama. On the final day, Sohag Gazi made the day historic by grabbing a hat-trick and became the first player in the history of Test cricket to score a hundred, grab a five-wicket haul and hat-trick in the same Test match.
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Something has changed in the Bangladesh team. It’s in the batsmen’s temperament. In the past, big totals always unsettled our batsmen; solid partnerships were followed by ugly collapses while the promising knocks hardly flourished. But in Chittagong, we didn’t notice such to happen. The big totals hardly unnerved the Bangladeshi batsmen, solid partnerships, even though got broken, never invited any ugly collapses but more application had been provided to deny any further damage and we noticed the realization amongst our batsmen about when to attack the bowlers and when to show enough resilience. This is indeed a very positive sign for Bangladesh cricket. This indicates Bangladesh are slowly and steadily building itself as a force to be reckoned in Test cricket. Plenty of positives to be taken from Chittagong but complacency must be avoided in Mirpur and discipline in batting must be maintained.
Again, such performances also send world cricket a message that how important it is to allow the lower-ranked side to play more Test cricket. A few months ago, the Zimbabweans outclassed Pakistan but sadly, for a brief period of time, they will hardly be able to play any Test match cricket. This is pretty unfair. If you wish to develop cricket then let the development be not limited in arranging cash-rich tournaments like IPL, BPL or BBL and meaningless ODI series, but give everyone the fair amount of opportunity to play against the stronger nations more and more to develop themselves as a force in world cricket.