The cricket world needs teams like Bangladesh. Sometimes they punch above their weight. Sometimes they frustrate fans; leaving them on tenterhooks. Sometimes they fall badly. And sometimes they surge so magnificently so as to leave everyone stunned. But the most impressive thing about Bangladesh is that they never give up. They like a good fight.
It is this passionate dream, the dream to be the best that is taking Bangladesh cricket so high these days. While much has been written about their rise in shorter formats in the past few years, it is this visibly steady ascend in Test cricket that has emerged as a standout.
In the last twelve months alone, Bangladesh have taken down England, Sri Lanka and, more recently, Australia, in a format you didn’t quite expect them to win: Tests.
A victory in a one-off T20 can be labeled a fluke. But Test victories don’t come easy. They determine a side’s character. And Bangladesh is now achieving them regularly. When they beat Australia at Mirpur recently, they sent out a clear message to the cricketing world; Bangladesh are no longer a pushover, regardless of format.
But Cricket needs a firm perspective. Hopefully, there’s one in Bangladesh’s historic Test win against Australia, their maiden one against the team in their Test history
The Aussies found themselves holding an olive branch, defeated by 20 runs. It was Mirpur as you’d seen it before. Spinners get assistance here. But, two men played the biggest part in the victory.
Opener Tamim Iqbal with scores of 71 and 78 in both the innings flayed the Australian attack with usual disdain and showed once again just why’s the best Bangladeshi batsmen ever.
Then there was Shakib-al-Hasan.
Shakib has been one of the most significant reasons for Bangladesh’s rise over the years. And how could he not have been a part of this momentous occasion for his people?
In the match, Shakib scored a gritty 84 in the first innings when his team was falling apart and then took 5-68 and 5-85 in both the innings respectively. If a Warne would’ve done it, they’d gone ga-ga. Right? But this is Shakib. He too can work up a wonder. It was only the 14th instance in Test history where a player had scored a fifty and taken two five-for’s at least once in a Test.
In fact, in the last 2 decades, this feat has occurred only thrice. Moreover, Shakib has featured twice in that. Not for nothing is he ranked the No.1 Test all-rounder in the world.
There were other heroes too in this historic win. There was that exciting, young spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz who kept choking the Australian batsmen with a probing line accompanied by turn and bounce.
Then there was as the ever-experienced, captain Mushfiqur Rahim, whose dogged 114-ball 41 in the second innings helped Bangladesh side set up a solid ask of Australia.
While Bangladesh lost the next match, with the series ending at 1-1, one shouldn’t forget their monumental victory in the 1st Test.
This win wasn’t an upset. It was a reinforcement of a point. Bangladesh is here to stay. And teams can take them lightly at their own peril.
So where do the Tigers go from here?
Let’s rewind to the past.
Bangladesh took their first great stride in international cricket after beating Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup. Next up would be stunning Australia at Cardiff in 2005. Remember a pained Brett Lee, surprised at what had happened?
Huge upsets to India and South Africa came about in 2007 World Cup. You don’t need a chronicler of history to tell that New Zealand have been dominated and so have India, South Africa and Pakistan at home.
But the turning point was reaching the semis of the 2015 World Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy 2017.
Which other growing side has held top notched sides by the collar quite like Bangladesh?
Not to be forgotten are those players from the past who’ve toiled hard for the country when the team was struggling badly. Yet, gave them a lot to cheer.
One can’t belittle the contributions of Habibul Bashar, Mohammad Rafique, Khaled Mashud, Mohammad Ashraful and, Akram Khan.
As Bangladesh’s first real heroes, these men of character commanded respect despite not having mind-boggling numbers in their kitty.
The only way from here is for Bangladesh to go up.
Of course, some issues persist. In the wake of experiencing euphoria, Bangladesh forget to analyze their failings.
Currently, a lot of home games are being played. But, achieving success on overseas tours is a vital measure of improved international performance.
Then their batting collapses that arrive unexpected need some sorting.
In the Second Test against Australia, they slipped to 97 for 6 on the fourth day. Hence, they lost a perfect opportunity to win both the Test and the series.
But it was all too familiar.
They’ve had similar collapses against New Zealand at Wellington earlier and against Sri Lanka at Colombo.
They are bringing themselves in a precarious situation through some very ordinary shots and lack of application by their batsmen that ultimately costs them dearly.
At present, the side is overly reliant on Tamim Iqbal, Shakib-al-Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim to bail them out of trouble every time.
The said unit has young stars that can be the next beacon of hope. They need to step up now and shed the over reliance on their past heroes.
Regardless of their shortcomings, however, this has been a great year for Bangladesh cricket.
One hopes that by the time 2017 is done, there’d be more victories. Cricket fans all over should be celebrating that.
So here’s what’s unmistakably a great delight. A competitive and fighting Bangladesh is what will keep world cricket alive and kicking.
This is their time. Can it be consistently Bangladesh rising.