SPECIALS – Bangladesh’s near-misses

  Bangladesh suffered yet another series sweep after a tame 10-wicket defeat to the West Indies in the second Test at Khulna. Though there was success for individuals like Sohag Gazi (who took 9 wickets on debut) and Abul Hasan (who scored a stunning hundred from No.10 on debut), Bangaldesh failed again as collective unit. Bangladesh’s struggles as a Test nation have continued for 12 years now, and their record is a dismal 65 losses in 75 Tests.

  However there were a few instances where Bangladesh actually had a big chance of winning a Test, only to lose in the end. Here we look at five Tests where Bangladesh contrived to lose in spite of having a great chance of victory:-

1. Lost to Pakistan by 1 wicket, Multan 2003

  This is probably Bangladesh’s most heart-breaking Test loss. The three match series was already won 2-0 by Pakistan coming into this final Test. A determined 72 by Habibul Bashar led Bangladesh to a fighting 281 before Mohammed Rafique (5/36) and Khaled Mahmud (4/37) combined to skittle the hosts out for just 175. With a healthy lead of 106, Bangladesh needed to capitalise, but instead they folded for 154, with quickies Umar Gul and Shabbir Ahmed picking 4 wickets each.

  In pursuit of a tricky 262, Pakistan were in for an upset loss when they ended Day 3 at 148/6. But one man, Inzamam ul Haq, on his home ground stood between Bangladesh and a historic win. Inzamam put on 41 for the 8th wicket with Shabbir and a further 52 with Gul for the 9th. The score was 257/9 when last man Yasir Ali, on debut, came in to join Inzamam. The big man kept his cool, steering his side to a thrilling, last gasp 1-wicket win, finishing unbeaten on 138.

2. Lost to Australia by 3 wickets, Fatullah 2005-06

shahriar_nafees     Shahriar Nafees made a stunning 138 against the mighty Aussies in 2005-06 (source – bbc.co.uk)

  This was the ultimate David vs Goliath battle. Bangladesh came up with a rousing start in this match and almost looked certain to slay the then world champions, before the Australians realised that could not lose to the underdogs. Bangladesh smashed 355/5 on the first day before being bowled out for 427, Shahriar Nafees making a brilliant 138. The legendary Shane Warne was stunningly attacked and went for almost 6 an over – it was fellow spinner Stuart MacGill who took 8/108. The Tigers then had Australia at 93/6 – a usual team would have definitely won from this position against another usual team – but this was bottom-of-the-table Bangladesh taking on the best team in the world.

  Adam Gilchrist however cracked 144 to help Australia get to 269. With a big lead in place, a nauseatingly familiar script was followed by the hosts – they collapsed for only 148. Yet they managed to have Australia at 231/6 in their chase of 307 – but just like Inzamam in Multan, it was skipper Ricky Ponting here who made 118 not out to help his side to victory. Bangladesh had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory and that too against the champions.

3. Lost to South Africa by 5 wickets, Dhaka 2007-08newpic790         Shahadat Hossain’s 6/27 gave a scare to South Africa at Dhaka in 2007-08

  Again Bangladesh took a first innings lead – albeit a narrow one this time – and again they managed to lose. South Africa replied to Bangladesh’s 192 (Morne Morkel 5/50) with a total of only 170, with paceman Shahadat Hossain bagging an excellent 6/27. The Bangladesh batsmen were however not up to mark, and they could only garner 182 in the second dig – Jacques Kallis picking 5/30. South Africa comfortably reached 205/5 to win the game by 5 wickets, and Bangladesh were left to rue once again.

4. Lost to New Zealand by 3 wickets, Chittagong 2008-09

  The same pattern followed in this Test too, as Bangladesh failed to defend 316 in the second innings. The hosts got a 74 run lead in the first innings after Shakib al Hasan took a sensational 7/36 – the best Test analysis by a Bangladeshi – to bundle out the Black Caps for 171 in reply to their 245 (Mehrab Hossain jnr 83, Mushfiqur Rahim 79). The hosts then managed 242 in the second innings, setting New Zealand a tricky 317. Aaron Redmond (79) and Daniel Vettori (76) ensured there was no collapse this time, and steered New Zealand to a 3-wicket win.

AlHasanShakib_081021_bowling_AI300          Shakib al Hasan’s record 7/36 against New Zealand in 2008-09 went in vain

5. Lost to India by 113 runs, Chittagong 2009-10

  Virender Sehwag had remarked before the game that Bangladesh were an ordinary side. The Tigers got back at him by bowling India out for 243 (Sachin Tendulkar 105*) , with Shahadat and Shakib taking 5 scalps each. They then replied with 242 – just one run behind and the game in balance. However the game drifted away from the hosts, as India declared at 413/8, setting a target of 414. Mushfiqur made an entertaining 101, but it was not enough as Bangladesh were dismissed for 301, losing by 113 runs.

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REVIEW – South Africa’s great escape

   It was Test cricket at its best – a battle of attrition, in which one team was trying its best to survive against the odds while the other was looking to bowl the opposition out to score a deserving win. In the end, the drawn result of the 2nd Test between Australia and South Africa at the Adelaide Oval was itself a deserving one, and a triumph for Test cricket.

   After controlling almost the whole of the Test match, Austalia were stopped short thanks to one of the greatest rescue acts in Test cricket. Reeling at 45/4 in pursuit of 430 with more than a day to go, add to that one of your batting pivots being injured – an average team would have capitulated against the Aussies in this situation. But this was South Africa, and it is not for nothing that they have been ranked the best team in the world currently. Showing amazing grit and determination, it was a debutant who stole the show for South Africa. Francois ‘Faf’ Du Plessis would not have been in the side had it not been for JP Duminy’s injury at the Gabba. But ‘Faf’ grabbed his chance, and in the process became a hero for his country. He scored an unbeaten 110 off 376 balls, staying till the very end to stave off the rampaging Aussies, spearheaded by the tireless Peter Siddle.       Faf du Plessis showed immense courage to star for his team on Test debut (source – iol.co.za)

   Such an innings is always an outstanding show of patience and to top it all, Du Plessis actually achieved it on debut to make it sweeter. He was ably supported by AB de Villiers, who scored an eye-popping, uncharacteristic but extremely important 33 off 220 balls. Further underlining the fighting spirit of the Test champions was Jacques Kallis – declared unfit to bowl during the first day, he battled injury to score 46 valuable runs in the second innings. South Africa finally ended at 248/8 in 148 gripping overs – achieving a draw that was perhaps as sweet as a victory.

               Peter Siddle’s lion-hearted spell could not help Australia to a victory (source – foxsports.com.au)

   On the other hand, Australia will definitely feel disappointed, as they failed to deliver the knockout punch after delivering almost all of the blows. Michael Clarke’s record fourth double ton powered Australia to a big total, and since then, South Africa were always playing catch-up. Huge credit goes to Siddle, who is being sensibly used by Australia as a Tests-only bowler. He bowled 64 overs in the match, including a marathon 33 in the second innings, where he took 4 wickets, and did not lose his rhythm till the end despite being near-exhausted. The stage is now set for the deciding battle, and the venue is the bouncy track of Perth, where both teams will leave no stone unturned in winning the rubber. Australia have been the better team thus far, and a win will put them on top of the Test rankings. But the confidence-boosting draw at Adelaide will hold the Proteas in good stead.

   At the time of writing this, news has broken that the Perth Test will be Ricky Ponting’s last. Will he go out on a high? That will only add to the anticipation. Adelaide was proof that there is nothing quite like Test cricket. Let us hope that Perth is even better. May the best team win!

REVIEW – The spin theory that spun back

   Just about a week ago, India looked confident and determined to achieve their goal of a ‘revenge’ series whitewash. It had all gone according to script in the first Test – a slow track at Motera, England as expected succumbing to spin, and an easy 9-wicket triumph for the hosts. But captain MS Dhoni said that he wanted a track which turned from the first ball for the next Test. His wish was fulfilled, and he had everything on a platter. Yet his team’s fortunes turned around amazingly, as it crashed to a ten-wicket defeat. Forget a whitewash, England seem the better team at the moment.

   India got to bat first, fielded three spinners on a made-to-order pitch  and yet were crushed in just over three days by a team which was written off only a week back. Three players stood out for England and made the difference – Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook and Monty Panesar. Pietersen played like only he can, exorcising his troubles against left-arm spin with a breathtaking, attacking knock of 186, while skipper Cook continued his great form, laying the foundation with a solid 122, and sharing a match-winning stand of 206 with Pietersen. Panesar was outstanding, stunning the so-called best players of spin with a match haul of eleven wickets. One wonders whether the result would have been different for England had they not made the mistake of leaving out Panesar in the Ahmedabad Test.                                            Kevin Pietersen’s masterly 186 flattened India’s spin trio at Mumbai (source – msn.com)

   While the eventual result may be attributed to one big partnership between two of the best batsmen in the world today, the fact that England’s spinners got much more purchase out of the wicket than their Indian counterparts cannot be overlooked. While the English duo of Panesar and Greame Swann took 19 wickets at an average of 17, the Indian spin  trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha  and Harbhajan Singh managed only 9 at 46. Many felt that Dhoni’s demand for a tailor-made turner bordered on the ridiculous, and they will be justified now that the English tweakers have given his spinners a lesson on how to bowl on such pitches. But Dhoni, obstinate as ever, said that he wanted such pitches for the remaining two Tests as well. And if Panesar and Swann bowl the way they did in Mumbai, Dhoni might just suffer the ignominy of being the first Indian captain to lose a home series to England in 28 years.                                            Monty Panesar stole the show with a match haul of 11/210

   Dhoni has never been a good Test captain, and we all know that India’s rise to World No.1 in late 2009 was on the back of victories at home or against lesser oppositon. Last season the team returned a horrendous showing, getting blanked in both England and Australia. The problem is, India just does not have an alternative to Dhoni as captain – Sehwag’s form is volatile, Gambhir has been below average for quite some time, Kohli is still young and inexperienced. But while Dhoni will go down in history as a good one-day skipper, he has been repeatedly found wanting in the longer format. Defensive fields, allowing easy singles, letting Ashwin bowl around the wicket when the need of the hour was to attack – his below-par captaincy was in display in Mumbai. Add to that his poor batting in Tests – when was the last time he played a crucial Test innings?

   Dhoni’s poor batting form brings us to the rest of the Indian batting. The grand old man of modern Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, averages a measly 15 in his last ten innings. His reflexes have slowed down, he does not seem like getting back into form at the highest level – yet former players assure us of ‘one big knock’ from him that will ‘silence his critics’ and obviously, prolong his career further. But when will that ‘big innings’ come? No one knows.

  Apparently, the selectors are going by reputation, and this is having a negative effect on the team. The statement that ‘Tendulkar himself has to take a call’ is ridiculous – he has always portrayed himself as a team man, and if that is the case, he has to seriously consider his future for the team’s sake. At Mumbai, he was found wanting against Panesar in both innings. Save for Pujara, none of the other batsmen showed application to play on the wicket, and India’s Sunday collapse was reminiscent of India’s poor batting in seaming conditions last seasons. Can’t play pace, can’t play spin? These are troubled times for India, unless the Mumbai defeat was an aberration.                                   Sachin Tendulkar is proving to be liability in the team due to his woeful form

   The Indian spinners missed a few tricks in Mumbai. Ashwin bowling around the wicket was a very defensive approach. While the English spinners bowled faster through the air to keep the batsmen guessing, the Indians looked for bounce and flight, which gave the likes of Pietersen ample time to swat the ball to the boundary. As the Mumbai pitch curator Sudhir Naik said, ‘if Dhoni is ordering doctored pitches, he should know how to prepare to play on such wickets too’.

   Indeed, Dhoni’s spin theory horribly backfired. Over to Kolkata now. Perhaps Dhoni can play Ashok Dinda and drop the off colour Harbhajan to restore the team balance, but Dhoni seems adamant about his demands. Meanwhile, England now have a serious chance of winning the series. Its amazing how fortunes can turn around in a week – that is the beauty of Test cricket.

Specials – Best of the Tests at the Wankhede

  Test cricket in the bustling city of Mumbai shifted for good to the Wankhede Stadium in the 1974-75 season, after it was built due to disputes between the Cricket Club of India (who own the historic Brabourne Stadium), which is a stone’s throw away from the Wankhede and has hosted only one Test in the last four decades, and the Mumbai Cricket Association over the allocation of tickets. The stadium is named after S.K Wankhede (1914-1988), a former secretary of the MCA.

          The new Wankhede Stadium, which was revamped for the 2011 World Cup

  As the 23rd Test to be played at the Wankhede between India and England is in progress, let us look back at five memorable Tests played at this venue over the last 38 years:-

1. India vs West Indies, 5th Test 1974-75

  This was the first ever Test played at the Wankhede, and the deciding Test with the teams locked at 2-2. The West Indies were still not at their 1980’s peak, but they nonetheless trounced the hosts by a comfortable 201 runs. Captain Clive Lloyd’s glorious unbeaten 242, aided by Roy Fredericks’ 104  plus Alvin Kallicharan (98) and Deryck Murray (91) helped the West Indians to an imposing 604/6. Eknath Solkar’s gutsy 102 just helped India avoid the follow-on, as a haul of 7/98 from the veteran Lance Gibbs ensured that India could not reach more than 406. In the second innings, West Indies galloped at 5 runs an over to declare at 205/3, setting India 404 to win. Already 53/3 at the start of the final (sixth) day, the hosts folded for 202, with Vanburn Holder grabbing 6/39, giving West Indies the series 3-2.

          Windies captain Clive Lloyd plundered 242* in the first ever Wankhede Test

2. India v England, Only Test 1979-80

  This was a one-off Test staged in honour of the Indian cricket board’s golden jubilee, and one man Ian Botham made it his own. He announced himself in the match by taking 6/58 as India were bowled out for 242 on the first day. Karsan Ghavri and Kapil Dev then reduced England to 58/5 when Botham swung the game around with a typical 114 from only 144 balls to guide England to 296. The lead of 54 was not yet a safe one, but Botham made it look like more than enough, as he ripped through the hosts in the second innings, taking 7/48 to have 13/106 in the match. India were bundled for 149, and England cantered home by ten wickets, reaching 98/0, where for a change, Botham was not required. Botham’s show was probably the most impactful all-round feat ever seen in a Test match.

             Ian Botham destroyed India with a stunning all-round showing in 1979-80 (source – ibnlive.in.com)

3. India v England, 1st Test 1981-82

  India exacted revenge two seasons later with a 138 run victory in a low-scoring encounter. India managed only 179 in the first innings, built around captain Sunil Gavaskar’s solid 55. Left armer Dilip Doshi then took 5/39 as England collapsed from 95/1 to 166 all out, in spite of half centuries from Geoff Boycott and Chris Tavare. The lead was only 13, and England’s scope of a win further brightened when they had India at 90/5 and then 157/8 in the second innings, before Kapil Dev crashed 46 off 50 balls and added vital runs with the lower order, helping his side to 227 and thus setting England a tricky 241 in the fourth innings. But Kapil (5/70) and Madan Lal (5/23) blew England away, as the visitors never recovered from 42/5, getting bowled out for a measly 102. This was the only result in a 6-Test series.

4. India v Australia, 4th Test 2004-05

  The pitch for this final Test was widely criticised, and the fact that it produced a thriller was overlooked. Hardly any play was possible due to rain on the first day, yet the Test ended within three days. India were shot out for 104 on a pitch that was turning more generously than was required. Australia built a good lead of 99 after they were all out for 203 on day 2 – a day on which 18 wickets fell. A further 20 wickets fell on the dramatic third day, India getting to 205 courtesy a priceless 91 run stand between senior pros VVS Laxman (69) and Sachin Tendulkar (55). Part time left armer Michael Clarke, of all bowlers, took an astonishing 6/9. Australia needed only 106, but India’s three-pronged spin attack of Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik had the then world champions in tatters at 58/7 before skittling them out for 93, Harbhajan taking 5 in the innings and Kartik 7 in the match. It was an exciting end to an extraordinary match. Australia took the series 2-1.

5. India v West Indies, 3rd Test 2011-12

            Darren Sammy and his men rejoice after denying India victory in 2011-12 (source – hindustantimes.com)

  I had the privilege of watching this Test live in the stadium, and I realised what a unpredictable game Test cricket can be. India had taken the series 2-0, and this Test was clearly headed for a draw after West Indies ended their first innings early on Day 3, scoring a massive 590. Their top six all scored more than 61, with Darren Bravo going on to make 166. India replied with 482, courtesy an attacking, unexpected knock of 103 from four-Test old off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who also took 5/156 in the first innings. The West Indies were 81/2 at stumps on Day 4, and I decided to miss the first session of the final day, as I thought that the match will peter out to a dull draw.

  As it happened, that very session turned the game on its head. Pragyan Ojha took 6/47 while Ashwin took 4 more wickets as West Indies were bowled out for 134, setting India 242 in a little over two sessions. I was back at the ground, and witnessed a gripping chase. India were favourites as they needed 95 off 30 overs with 6 wickets left. But the Windies chipped away with wickets, and finally India needed 3 runs with 2 wickets in hand in the last over. They could only manage 2, and Ashwin was run out off the last ball to leave the scores level and result in one of the most thrilling Test finishes.This was only the second draw with the scores level in Tests, the first being Zimbabwe vs England at Bulawayo in 1996-97.

Famous Test Matches – Australia v South Africa, Sydney, 1993-94

  This was South Africa’s first Test series in Australia since readmission, and the first Test, the Boxing Day Test, was a rain-affected draw. The second Test was played in the new year, from 2nd to 6th January, at Sydney, with both teams set for battle after barely getting a chance to impress at Melbourne.

  South Africa were led by Bloemfontein-born Kepler Wessels, who had played 24 Tests for Australia from 1982 to 1985, and was now a part of his native country’s readmitted Test team. Wessels called correctly, and decided to bat. The first day belonged to the great Shane Warne, who bamboozled the visiting batsmen with his array of magical deliveries. 

  After Glenn McGrath removed Andrew Hudson for nought, South Africa seemed to be on the right track as Gary Kirsten and Hansie Cronje put on 90 for the second wicket, before Craig McDermott accounted for Cronje (41). Then the Warne show began.

  The ‘Sheikh of Tweak’ started off by bowling Daryll Cullinan for nine and trapping Jonty Rhodes LBW, before having the key man Gary Kirsten stumped by Ian Healy for 67 – all to flippers – to have South Africa at 134/5. He then went on to add four more scalps as South Africa subsided to 169 in the 75th over.

            Jonty Rhodes’ unbeaten 76 in the second innings proved to be a priceless knock

  The visitors lost their last eight wickets for just 59, seven of them to Warne. Warne finished with outstanding figures of 27-8-56-7. Australia lost Mark Taylor to end the day at 20/1. South Africa began the second day well, as they scalped David Boon and Mark Waugh to reduce the home side to 75/3.

  But opener Michael Slater, who made 92, was undeterred, and shared a crucial 104-run partnership for the fourth wicket with captain Allan Border (49), before both were out with the score at 179. Australia ended the day at 200/5. From thereon, on day three, Damien Martyn (59) took over, and added important runs with the lower order before being the ninth man out.

  Australia eventually finished at 292, a good 123 runs ahead on a not-so-helpful wicket. Pacemen Allan Donald and Fanie De Villiers picked up 4/83 and 4/80 respectively. In the second innings, Hudson was out early again and Kirsten was dismissed for 41 – both to McDermott, as South Africa ended the third day at 94/2, 29 runs in deficit.                               

  McDermott took his third wicket, removing Cronje, while Warne picked up the wickets of Wessels and Cullinan as South Africa slumped to 110/5 with Australia still leading by 19. Rhodes then stepped up to the challenge, and shared in a stand of 72 for the sixth wicket with Dave Richardson, and an invaluable 36 for the last wicket with Allan Donald.

         Shane Warne’s 12 wickets were not enough to prevent Australia from losing (source – telegraph.co.uk)

  Rhodes remained unbeaten on a masterly 76 as South Africa managed to reach 239. Warne bowled 42 overs to claim another 5 for 72, to have a match haul of 12/128 – his career-best figures. Australia needed only 117 to win the Test, but De Villiers, playing only his second Test, spiced up the game as he rocked the Australian top-order.

  De Villiers’ burst reduced the hosts to 56/4, as he mopped up the top four, including David Boon and Tim May in successive balls. Australia went into the final day at 63/4, still needing another 74 runs for victory. Donald set the tone early on day five, cleaning up Allan Border to have the Aussies in real trouble at 63/5.   

   During the morning Wessels injured his finger while attempting a slip catch, and hence young Cronje took over as captain. Australia’s dramatic collapse continued, as they lost Waugh leg-before to Donald while Healy was bowled by de Villiers. When Cronje ran Warne out with a direct hit from mid-off, they were down in the dumps at 75/8, having lost their last seven for just 24 runs.

  Suddenly McDermott decided to become a hero, and scored a breezy, unbeaten 29 in a ninth-wicket stand of 35 with Martyn. However Martyn was out for 6, caught by Hudson at cover off Donald – he had batted for 106 minutes – leaving the score at 110/9 and the last pair to do the rest.

       Fanie de Villiers climbs atop Hansie Cronje’s shoulders after bowling South Africa to an astonishing five-run victory at sydney (source – espncricinfo.com/gettyimages)

  But it was too much for last man McGrath, who was out caught and bowled for 1 to de Villiers, thus handing an astonishing five-run win to South Africa. Australia batted 56.3 overs in the second innings, but still could not win, finishing at 111.

  De Villiers returned a match-winning 6/43 to get 10/123 in the match and win the Man of the Match award. Donald supported well again, taking 3/34. UCBSA managing director Ali Bacher – who led his country to the 4-0 thrashing of Australia when the two teams last met in 1969-70 – called it “our finest achievement ever.”

  It was South Africa’s 12th victory in 55 Tests against Australia (who had won 29), but their ninth in the last 13, a sequence dating back to South Africa’s last tour of Australia in 1963-64. Australia drew the three-Test series 1-1 with a 191-run victory at Adelaide.

Match Scorecard

Match Highlights

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT – Glenn Turner’s one-man show

   Glenn Turner was easily one of New Zealand’s best batsmen. He represented the Kiwis in 41 Tests and an equal number of ODI’s with distinction, averaging 44.64 and 47 respectively. In first class cricket, he has recorded an amazing 103 centuries – with a best of 311*. But undoubtedly the most eye-popping of these hundreds came at St Helen’s, Swansea in 1977, when Turner was playing for Worcestershire.

   The hosts Glamorgan declared at 309/4 in 100 overs after electing to bat first. Michael Llewellyn (91*) and Gwyn Richards (74*) put on an unbeaten 161 for the 5th wicket, while opener Alan Jones made 48. The former England test spinner Norman Gifford took 3/91. By stumps on Day 2, Worcestershire were 44/2, having lost Barry Jones and Phillip Neale. Turner was unbeaten on 39 already.                             Glenn Turner in full flow during his days at Worcestershire

  The next day Turner proceeded to play one of the most unique innings ever. Glamorgan bowled out Worcestershire for just 169 in 68 overs, but Turner entered the record books by carrying his bat and making 141* – a staggering 83.43% of the total number of team runs. The next best score was 7 by Gifford, with whom Turner added 57 for the 9th wicket, rescuing his side from a very worrisome 93/8. Elton Cordle was the wrecker-in-chief with 5/53, but none could remove Turner even as the rest of the batsmen crumbled around him. The other ten batsmen managed only 14 scoring shots among them!

  ”As each of them came out, in what looked like a disaster area” remembered Turner, “I told them there was nothing wrong with the pitch, but they didn’t seem to believe me!” Turner’s percentage of the innings total – 83.43% – remains the first-class record.

  The third day of the game was washed out and the match was drawn. Worcestershire finished the season 13th while Glamorgan finished 14th. Namibia’s Gerrie Snyman came close to breaking this record at Sharjah in the 2007-08 Intercontinental Cup, when he scored a stunning 230 out of 282 runs against Kenya.

Match Scorecardhttp://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/37/37233.html

REVIEW – Bangladesh lose a golden chance

   For a few periods in the first Test against the West Indies at Mirpur, Bangladesh seriously looked like adding a third victory over their opponents in Test cricket, the first two being in the Caribbean in 2009. But in the end, the game followed a familiar script, and Bangladesh fell to their 64th defeat in 74 Tests – a dismal record indeed.

  The Bangladesh team will be all the more disappointed by this defeat if they consider the fact that they had racked up 556 runs in their first innings – their highest ever Test total. This is the joint-third highest Test total by a losing team in Test history. Few expected the hosts to put up a big total, let alone take a lead, in the first innings. The West Indies too perhaps underestimated Bangladesh, as they confidently declared at 527 losing only 4 wickets. But the Tigers’ middle order not only made crucial knocks, but also gave their team a realistic chance of upsetting Darren Sammy’s men. The game was set for a tantalizing fifth day, and Bangladesh further enhanced their chances by quickly bowling out West Indies for 273, and the patient crowd at the Sher-e-Bangla must have been naturally optimistic that their team would chase the required 245 in 78 overs.                            Tino Best ruined Bangladesh’s realistic hopes for a rare Test match victory (source – cricket.com.au)

  However Tino Best ruined their hopes, and saved West Indies the ignominy of losing for a record third time to Test cricket’s whipping boys. Best claimed a career-best 5/24 as the hosts failed to seize yet another opportunity, and were bowled out for 167, losing by 77 runs. Two of Test cricket’s lower ranked teams produced a good contest, and West Indies will know that they still need to up their game by quite a few notches if they are to reach their ‘a top-5 ranking in a year’ target.

  Bangladesh can add this Test to their list of near misses in Test cricket. They had lost to Pakistan by just one wicket back in 2003 at Multan, and had contrived to lose by 3 wickets to Australia at Fatullah in 2005-06, in spite of having the then world champions at 93/6 in the first innings after making 427. Bangladesh will know that in this short two-Test series, this was a huge opportunity gone, and it will be tough to recreate such a performance to press for a series-levelling victory in the second Test at Khulna. For the West Indies, besides Best, it was man of the match Kieran Powell with two hundreds, and the evergreen Shivnarine Chanderpaul with a double hundred, who were the major contributors of this final-session victory.       Off-spinner Sohag Gazi impressed on debut in his team’s loss, taking 9 wickets (source – thenews.com.pk)

  There were many positives though, for Bangladesh in this defeat. Sohag Gazi, the debutant off-spinner took 9/219 including 6/74 in the second innings. On the batting front, Naeem Islam’s maiden hundred was ably supported by the two dependable men – Tamim Iqbal and Shakib al-Hasan against bowlers like Sunil Narine and Ravi Rampaul. But the challenge ahead for the batsmen is to be consistent enough to rival the best of Test nations – an area which has tremendously let them down over their 12 years at Test level, and the tendency was repeated in the second innings of this Test.Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim was right when he said that his team’s batsmen should learn to put a greater value on their wickets.

  Bangladesh have proved to be a competitive, if not strong ODI outfit of late, as their Asia Cup performances showed. But unless they regularly start to provide tough competition in Test matches, they will always be regarded as the perennial underdogs. Meanwhile, I’m hoping for another good game of Test cricket at Khulna.