For a very long time, it was football that was a more popular sport than cricket in most of the parts of Bangladesh. Gradually the two sports began to switch their respective positions. The Tigers, as the Bangladesh cricket team is fondly referred as, played their maiden international cricket match in 1979. They played their first-ever One-Day International (ODI) in 1986 during the Asia Cup. Bangladesh was slowing becoming one amongst the cricketing nations but their maiden Test debut was still 14 years away.
On 26 June 2000, the Bangladesh cricket team was granted full ICC membership, and the same year they hosted their neighbours, India, for a one-off Test. The Test turned out to be special in several ways for the Tigers. Against all the expectations, they began by shocking a full-fledged Indian side by piling up 400 runs in the first innings. A 32-year-old Aminul Islam was an instant hit with an incredible century in Bangladesh’s first Test. He had batted for 535 minutes, scoring 145 runs off 380 balls against India’s one of the best bowlers, Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan. That knock was inclusive of 17 boundaries.
Although the hosts eventually lost by nine wickets, they did impress by giving a tough fight. It was a dream start to their Test journey. Seventeen years have passed since that match and Bangladesh are about to play their 100th Test. Prior to Bangladesh’s historical match that is scheduled to be played against Sri Lanka from March 16, let’s recount their best five memorable moments in Test cricket.
Bangladesh’s first Test win
After a long wait of 14 years, Bangladesh were awarded the Test status, becoming the 10th Test playing nation. They even had a good start in the longest format of the sport. They played a strong Indian team in their first Test and fighting against the odds they put up some fight and denied India a cake walk in victory. However, Bangladesh failed to produce results after that.
They lost 31 Tests and drew three Tests before they finally registered their first-ever Test win. The moment came in 2005 during the two-Test series at home against Zimbabwe. Bangladesh’s then captain Habibul Bashar stepped up with a top-score of 94 runs. He received support from Nafees Iqbal, Rajin Saleh and Mohammad Rafique who chipped in with fifties respectively. Barring two batsmen, everyone had contributed in double digits as Bangladesh posted 488 runs in the first innings.
All-rounder Rafique, who scored 69 in the first innings, put Bangladesh ahead with a superb bowling performance. Out of Zimbabwe’s 10 wickets, five went to his account. Mashrafe Mortaza picked up three scalps and Baisya had one with his name as the visitors were bundled out for 312 runs.
The team, that was five years old in Test cricket, added another 204 runs and gave Zimbabwe a target of 381 runs. The left-arm spinner Enamul Haque jnr’s 6 for 45 bowled out Zimbabwe for a mere total of 154 and handed the Tigers a win by 226 runs. Their first in the whites!
Their first mark overseas
Since Bangladesh’s Test debut in 2000, they have had so far played 14 away series. Let alone a series win, they were yet to win a Test overseas. That moment of glory also took some time but eventually they experienced that too. West Indies hosted Mortaza and Co for a two-Test series in 2009. The visitors won the Kingstown Test by 95 runs and the Grenada game by four wickets. The spin trio of Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan and Enamul Haque jnr made the difference for Bangladesh on the West Indian soils.
Shakib and Mahmudullah, who played both the Tests picked 13 and 12 wickets respectively, while Enamul who played just the final match managed six scalps with his name. Shakib displayed his all-rounder’s skills because he also contributed with the bat, scoring 159 runs, the second highest behind Tamim Iqbal for Bangladesh in the batting charts.
The 200 moments
The Mushfiqur Rahim became the first Bangladeshi batsman to hit a Test double century. The wicketkeeper-batsman achieved the feat during the first Test of the 2013 away series against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka batted first and the three specialist batsmen – Dilshan, Sangakkara and Matthews – smashed a century each, immediately putting Bangladesh under pressure. They declared at 570 for 4.
Opening batsman, Tamim Iqbal was the second batsman from Bangladesh to record a Test double hundred. He scored it during Pakistan series in 2015. Former Bangladesh captain, Shakib, recently became the third cricketer from the country to smash a double Test ton in Tests. He did that in the first Test against New Zealand earlier this year in Wellington.
A world record performance
Sohag Gazi, Bangladesh’s 25-year-old spinner is the only man so far to have taken a hat-trick and scored a hundred in the same Test match. His record-making performance came during the home two-Test series against New Zealand in 2013. In the first Test at Chittagong, Gazi scored his maiden Test century, remained unbeaten on 101, as Bangladesh posted 501 in reply to New Zealand’s 469.
He followed this up with a hat-trick in New Zealand’s innings, removing Corey Anderson, BJ Watling and Doug Bracewell in consecutive deliveries. Gazi is also the only man to have taken a hat-trick and scored a century in two First-Class games. He also the second Bangladeshi to take a Test hat-trick after Alok Kapali.
Bangladesh made a huge damage in England cricket when they eliminated them out of World Cup 2015; a Test win against the same opponents was just sweeter for the Tigers. Prior to their historical win against England in 2016, Bangladesh had triumphed only against lower-ranked sides like Zimbabwe and West Indies.
The hosts secured a historic 108-run win against England in the second Test – their first win in 10 attempts – and ended the two-Test series 1-1 after they lost the opening game by a whisker (22 runs).