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.

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