“Bangladesh in Test cricket has thus far been a case of two steps forward, three back. When will this trend ever end”?

Zimbabwe clearly have the upper hand in the historic Sylhet Test against Bangladesh at the end of Day Two and the hosts have themselves to blame for putting themselves in this position. Zimbabwe, who have not won a Test in 5 years, grinded their way into posting a decent 282 runs on the board, thanks to fifties from Hamilton Masakadza (52), Sean Williams (88) and Peter Moor (63*). In the absence of key players like Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, it was an opportunity for someone else in the team to put their hand up and deliver. Unfortunately for Bangladesh, nobody turned up and as a result find themselves in a hole.

At the end of the day, it was a sorry looking scorecard for Bangladesh. On a good batting track, where there was barely any turn and a bit on a slowish side, the Bangladeshi batsmen showed very less application. It was more of a case of the batsmen playing rash shots rather than the bowlers having to pick up wickets. There were so many deliveries that the Bangladesh batsmen could have left alone but instead stuck their bat out. Some missed the edge, some hit it and in the case of Imrul Kayes and Mahmudullah, the ball hit his inside edge and crashed into the wickets.

Having won the ODI series comfortably, Bangladesh have once again been poor in the longest format. We are just two days into the Test series and they are already on the back foot. Zimbabwe in their innings showed that once a batsman is set, he can go on and make it count. They did not lose patience when the runs were not coming and were instead happy to take the runs whenever and however they came. Taijul Islam proved to be a thorn in Bangladesh’s flesh as he kept chipping away with wickets, bowling tight lines and lengths.

However, all of Zimbabwe’s batsmen put a price on their wickets, which is something Bangladesh did not even try to do. On a day when Taijul’s bowling effort needed to take the limelight, it is the shambolic Bangladesh batting that is the talk of the town.

Barring Nazmul Hossain, the top 6 have a decent experience in Test cricket. Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah should have taken up the responsibility of batting long and perhaps on the verge of giving Bangladesh the lead. While Mushfiqur toiled hard for his 31, the same cannot be said about the other two. An unbeaten 41 from debutant Ariful Haque and 21 from Mehidy Hasan at least took Bangladesh past the 100-run mark. Zimbabwe will be pleased with their efforts. Sikandar Raza, who is more of a part-time off-spinner picking up 3 wickets was a real bonus for them.

Making a quick transition from 50-over to 20-over to Test format is the need of the hour for every international cricketer these days. Moving from limited-overs to Tests is never easy. The lines and lengths are different, the field placement is different and not to forget, there also will be a lot of changes in the line-up. You cannot expect the bowlers to hit the same in Tests, like they did in ODIs and hence the adjustment has to be made. Just like Zimbabwe were with their batting, Bangladesh too were patient with their bowling. They did not get bogged down or get frustrated when they did not get wickets throughout the 117.3 overs they were on the field.

No doubt that the Bangladesh team would have been tired after spending so much time on the field. But that is where they had to show their grit and determination. Overcoming such obstacles is required if they are to succeed in Test cricket. Recently, Tamim batted with a broken hand in the Asia Cup and rightly earned the appreciation of millions around the world. A bit of fatigue should not come in the way of your performance, be it while batting or bowling.

It is a similar scenario for Bangladesh. They do incredibly well in the limited-overs – Home or away – But when it comes to Tests, they still have not figured out how to go about things. The wins against Australia, England and Sri Lanka got the cricketing world enthusiastic about their progress in Tests, but they somehow seem to have gone back to square one after all those highs.

The squad is certainly not short of talent, what they lack is a bit of hunger to survive in all conditions. Zimbabwe are one of the weaker Test nations. Before this, they had toured West Indies – Another team that is not particularly on top. They were bowled out for just 43 – Their lowest ever Test total – In the first Test. However, they did extremely well in the limited-overs series that followed.

Being a good limited-overs side is also important, but as long as you do not flourish in Tests, the cricket fraternity will not take you seriously. There are a few players in the Bangladesh side, who have a good record in all three formats, but if you were to ask them, they would say that they are most proud of their good show in Tests.

Bangladesh in Test cricket has thus far been a case of two steps forward, three back. When will this trend ever end?

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