Bangladesh’s journey in Test cricket
Bangladesh cricket is on the up and they've come a long way since their Test debut in 2000.
Bangladesh chased down a stiff target of 191 on day five against the hosts, Sri Lanka, to cap off a remarkable victory in their landmark 100th Test match. This was their first win over Sri Lanka and ninth overall since they received the Test status.
The Tigers played their debut match in the longest format of the game in November 2000 against India in Dhaka and have had to overcome several highs and lows in this period.
Bangladesh have not had too many successes since receiving Test status, but the support and the talent in the country mean that the Asian country have a bright future. Their stunning performance in an all-important Test match gives us an opportunity to go back and relive their journey in the toughest format of cricket.
2000-08 (58 Tests – 1 win, 6 draws and 51 losses)
The way Bangladesh performed in their inaugural Test was an indication of things to come in future. A good score of 400 in the first innings but abject surrender in second by getting bowled out for 91, meant that their Test match debut ended in defeat.
For the first few years, they seldom scored more than 300 or 400 and were unable to bowl the opposition out twice. The closest Bangladesh came to winning a Test match was in Multan in 2003, only to be denied by a special hundred from Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq. The defeat was certainly heart breaking as Bangladesh squandered their biggest chance to beat one of the top sides in the longest format.
A few months later, Bangladesh earned a hard earned draw against West Indies in their own backyard where Habibul Bashar led from the front with a classy century. But they were still struggling to find their feet in the five-day format and many had started to question their Test status and if they weren’t worthy of it. Bangladesh had their backs against the walls as they had lost many matches by an innings and had been bowled out for less than 100 several times.
Extra Cover: Bangladesh's special victory and the month of March
Their greatest triumph came in 2005 when Zimbabwe – who themselves were going through a tough phase – toured Bangladesh. This was a chance for the hosts to catch the visitors on the hop. Mohammad Rafique and Enamul Haque Jnr ran through Zimbabwe’s batting line-up, registering one of the best figures for them in Tests.
These spells resulted in Bangladesh winning their first ever Test match and eventually the series. Though they pushed Australia to the edge in 2006 in a home Test, Bangladesh did not have much to show in the longest format of the game.
By the end of 2008, Bangladesh had registered only one win in Tests and a whopping 51 losses.
2009-present day (42 Tests – 8 wins, 9 draws, 25 losses)
This period started with some promise for Bangladesh as they beat West Indies in West Indies to claim their first away series win. The hosts, due to their issues with the board, fielded almost a third string XI, but the visiting side didn’t do them any favours and beat them in the two-match series.
Bangladesh won both the Test matches having found the players around which a team could be built for future. The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmadullah, and Mashrafe Mortaza emerged as the finds of the tour. Their first series win proved to be a one-off as the defeats to India and England at home, and New Zealand and England, away from home followed.
The crop of young players had started to take the country by storm, but only in the shorter formats of the game. Bangladesh had a long break in Tests between July 2010 and August 2011 which resulted in heavy losses to Zimbabwe, West Indies and Pakistan in a short period of time. Their confidence was badly dented and once again, their ability to play the red ball cricket was questioned.
Amidst all this, their successes in One-Day Internationals meant they always took that confidence into the Test arena. Mushfiqur, Shakib and Tamim, all experienced players by now, scored double hundreds and bowlers like Sohag Gazi, Mustafizur Rahman, and Mehedi Hasan Miraz emerged, in what is now a formidable Test side now.
Bangladesh’s finest moment in their cricketing history came in 2016, when they beat a full strength England side at home. This was the first time they defeated one of the top seven Test-playing nations. Soon they were hosted by India for the only Test, which was their first ever Test match in the country. Though they lost the match, there were lots of positives for them to take home.
Players in the Bangladesh domestic circuit grew up playing the 50-over and 20-over formats in the last five years. Much of it was down to BCB’s preference to play the shorter formats rather than Tests. But the recent results, which include the famous win over England and now the win against Sri Lanka, should encourage the cricket board to design their future tour programme carefully and include more Test matches.
The country is gifted with many talented players and the BCB should stress on giving Test format the primacy despite the successes in ODIs and T20Is. If Bangladesh continues to improve, some scintillating Test cricket could be in store for fans in the near future.