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Bangladesh hope Chittagong marks a test turning point

By Sudipto Ganguly

(Reuters) - While their limited-overs side have already savoured victories over the world's top sides, Bangladesh cricket hopes their narrow defeat to England over five days in Chittagong will be a watershed moment for the test team.

Bangladesh sent England crashing out of the 50-over World Cup and entered the quarter-finals for the first time last year, and scored one-day international victories over India, Pakistan and South Africa during a run of six series wins at home.

However, that success has not translated into the longer format of the game for Bangladesh, a nation of 157 million crazy about cricket.

Since gaining test-playing status in 2000, they have won just seven of 94 matches -- five against minnows Zimbabwe and two against second-string West Indies sides -- and lost 72 of them.

Australia have won all four tests against Bangladesh and England nine out of nine. Pakistan have won nine out of 10.

A lengthy absence from test cricket and a lack of opportunities to play top nations have not helped their cause -- the Chittagong test was the first for Bangladesh in 15 months.

That lack of test cricket against the top teams has meant Bangladesh have found it difficult to maintain their intensity and play consistently over five days.

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim hoped the match against England would mark a change in fortunes for the test side.

The hosts were chasing 33 runs for victory when they resumed play on the final day, but Ben Stokes picked up their last two wickets in three balls to give England a thrilling 22-run win.

"The entire test was a big achievement for us," Mushfiqur told reporters after the match.

"In the past we lacked consistency. And to play consistently for five days despite not having played test cricket for 15 months is not easy.

"And I think we were consistent 90 to 95 percent of the game. We showed real character."

Over the next three months, Bangladesh will play two tests in New Zealand and one in India. They hope to look back on Chittagong as the turning point in their test history.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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