Following a comprehensive 259-run defeat, they were down and out at Galle, a senior member of the team was dropped from the squad in the middle of a series, the team management was not entirely happy with the performance of some of the other experienced pros — coming into their landmark 100th Test match, all was not well in Bangladesh’s camp.
When skipper Mushfiqur Rahim came out in for his pre-match press conference at the P Sara Oval, he seemed to be under a lot of pressure. Of late, he has been criticised for not being proactive as a Test captain. Critics were after him since Bangladesh lost that game in Wellington, after scoring 595 in the first innings. In fact, there was a talk about removing Mushfiqur from Test captaincy after Bangladesh lost the Hyderabad Test. It was only because of lack of options, his leadership was saved.
More of less ahead of the P Sara Oval Test match Mushfiqur and his team was pushed back in the corner. They had only one option left — beat a strong opponent like Sri Lanka at their own backward and earn back their respect.
And that’s exactly they did.
That closed door meeting
Before the start of the second Test, one of the training days at the P Sara Oval, Bangladesh players sit back in the dressing room and had a ‘heart to heart conversation.
“We tried to understand the value of a run, a misfield. Giving away runs in the first innings may not seem much at the time, but it comes back to hurt you at the end of the day. We tried to recognise these small things. The fact that we absorbed each and every bit of it was quite impressive; the batsmen and bowlers played with responsibility here, which made me happy,” after creating history on the 100th Test, a relieved Mushfiqur was saying.
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha also revealed details of that close door meeting. “I prompted the questions and then they had a heart-to-heart conversation in the dressing room for nearly one hour. The positive thing we saw here was their energy over the five days. We still have some areas to improve, but there’s a vast difference in body language and effort in this game.”
Perhaps, on that particular meeting, the Bangladesh players decided to change their approach. By the time the meeting ended, the Shakibs, the Tamims, the Mustafizurs and the others had understood the value of doing the basics right. Also, they probably would have discussed about playing as a team, rather than depending on individuals to come good.
A team effort
Individual brilliance can win you occasional ODIs and T20s, but not Test matches.
Finally, it seems the Tigers are out of that zone.
It was probably for the first time in last 17 years, Bangladesh boys dominated a Test match throughout the five days and put up a purely professional display. It seems finally Bangladesh have announced their arrival at the Test arena.
The triumph at the P Sara was completely a result of team effort. Yes, Shakib has chipped in with a crucial ton and timely breakthroughs, but apart from him, every other member of the playing eleven had contributed to the team’s cause.
On Day One, after losing the toss, Bangladesh were under pressure to bowl Sri Lanka out under a manageable total and the new ball burst by Mustafizur Rahman and young Subashis Roy, followed by the Mehedi Hasan Miraz’s strikes pegged the host back early in the game. They were four down at Lunch and despite Dinesh Chandimal’s fighting ton, only manage to 338 in the first innings.
While batting, three Bangladesh batters reached the half-century mark — Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur and the debutante Mosaddek Hossain. Especially, the way young Mosaddek had dealt with the likes of old fox Rangana Herath and chinaman Lakshan Sandakan, was nothing less than sensational. He looks like one for the future.
During the first half of Sri Lanka’s second innings, it seemed the game was heading towards a boring draw until that 45-minute phase just after the post-lunch session on Day 4. The spell by Mustafiz and Shakib swung the pendulum towards the visitors. Sri Lanka lost 4 for 25 within a span of 53 balls in that period, which was the turning point of the game. Subashis and Taijul Islam also did a decent job to keep a check on the opponent’s run scoring.
Finally, chasing 191 on the fifth-day track against an experienced Sri Lankan attack, it was the Tamim-Sabbir pair, who put their hands up after losing two early wickets.
Beating Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in a Test…a sure shot sign of Bangladesh's progress in International cricket. Well done, 🇧🇩 👍😊
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) March 19, 2017
In his pre-match press conference, Mushfiqur spoke about the start of a new era for Bangladesh in Test cricket. This year, they are playing a lot of Test cricket (More than 10 matches) and by beating Sri Lanka Bangladesh have got the momentum. Now it will be interesting to see whether they can carry this forward or not.