Record Book – The lowest total by a Test nation in the Champions Trophy

  New Zealand and Bangladesh, fresh from playing each other in the tri-series in Ireland last month, are set to face off in a Champions Trophy match at Cardiff on the coming Friday. This will be the second time that the two teams will meet in the Champions Trophy; the first instance being in the 2002 edition in Sri Lanka.

  The format back then allowed only one of the three teams in each pool to enter the semifinals, and as it turned out, Australia breezed into the final four from Pool 1, courtesy of resounding wins over New Zealand and Bangladesh. The final pool game between the two losing teams, played at Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club Ground on September 23, 2002, was thus reduced to an inconsequential affair.

  New Zealand, looking for consolation after having failed to defend the title they won in 2000, were inserted in to bat on a slow track by Bangladesh’s wicketkeeper-captain Khaled Mashud. Left-arm pacer Manjural Islam provided an early breakthrough for the Tigers, scalping the key wicket of Nathan Astle with the score at 11 in the third over.

  Skipper Stephen Fleming and Matthew Sinclair produced a second-wicket stand of 66 at nearly six an over, before Khaled Mahmud pulled things back with a double strike. The medium pacer first got rid of Fleming, who was looking composed on 31, and then had Lou Vincent caught behind in his next over. New Zealand were now 79/3 in the 16th over and needed someone to play a long innings.

         Scott Styris plays a shot during New Zealand’s innings as Bangladesh captain Khaled Mashud looks on (source – gettyimages/icc-cricket.com)

  Sinclair held fort, but the Bangladeshi bowlers ensured that runs were not easy to come by. The fourth-wicket partnership between Sinclair and Scott Styris had progressed to 40, when the latter was caught short of his crease for a promising 26. This setback further dented the run rate, and even though Sinclair and Chris Harris added 48 for the fifth wicket, their stand consumed 85 balls.

  When Sinclair was sixth out for a stodgy 70 from 122 balls to the part-time leg spin of Mohammad Ashraful, who had already dismissed Harris earlier, the scoreboard read 198 in the 45th over. A final flourish from Jacob Oram, who became Ashraful’s third victim, and Daniel Vettori enabled New Zealand to accumulate 46 runs in the last five overs.

  Yet, it was a commendable effort from Bangladesh to restrict their opponents to 244/7. Manjural and Mahmud bowled with control to take two wickets each, while left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique returned tidy figures as well. The 18-year-old Ashraful, who had become Test cricket’s youngest centurion a year earlier, finished with a career-best of 3/26.

  The target was by no means a daunting one, but Bangladesh needed to put in a highly improved effort with the bat compared to the game against Australia – in which they had painstakingly crumbled for 129 in the 46th over – if they harboured hopes of notching a rare victory; they came into this match on the back of 19 consecutive ODI defeats.

       Shane Bond ripped through the Bangladeshi top order to set up a crushing win for New Zealand at the 2002 Champions Trophy (source – espncricinfo.com)

   A 20th defeat on the trot was a foregone conclusion just five overs into the Bangladeshi innings. The top order had absolutely no answer to the express pace of Shane Bond, who was in the thick of things from the first over itself when he had Al Sahariar trapped leg-before for a duck. At the other end, Oram sent back the other opener Javed Omar to leave Bangladesh at 8/2 after two overs.

  The ferocious Bond, backed by Fleming’s attacking field, had figures of 3-0-9-4 at this point. Bangladesh had suffered their lowest ODI total at the same ground just over a month earlier, when they were skittled for 76 by Sri Lanka. At 19/5, a bigger embarrassment was on the cards. The top scorer of the innings was Tushar Imran (20), who was sixth out to Oram with the score at 37.

  The last four wickets managed to double the score and also – just – avoid a record ODI low for Bangladesh, but nevertheless, the final outcome made for sorry reading. Kyle Mills and Vettori too chipped in with two wickets apiece, as the Tigers were shot out for 77 in 19.3 overs to concede a 167-run defeat. Bond finished with 4/21 in five overs and was rightly named man of the match.

  Bangladesh’s total of 77 was then the lowest in the Champions Trophy, and till date, remains the lowest by a Test nation in the tournament. In the next edition in 2004, Bangladesh were bowled out for another sub-100 total – 93 against South Africa at Edgbaston. The lowest Champions Trophy total overall is 65 by the United States of America against Australia at Southampton in 2004.

Match Scorecard 

Record Book – The highest ODI total by an Associate nation

  The second match of the recently-concluded ODI series between leading Associate teams Afghanistan and Ireland saw the Afghans rack up 338 on the board, their highest ever ODI total. However, this was only the third-highest total by a non-Test playing team in ODI history; the record still remains with Kenya, who rode roughshod over Bangladesh nearly 20 years ago.

  The Kenya Cricket Association President’s Cup was a triangular tournament played in Nairobi in October 1997, featuring Zimbabwe and Bangladesh besides the hosts. The opening match at the Gymkhana Club Ground on 10th October saw the Kenyans square off against Bangladesh, the team that had beaten them in the thrilling ICC Trophy final in Kuala Lumpur six months earlier.

  This was the first official ODI to be played between the two emerging nations. Akram Khan won the toss for Bangladesh and decided to field first; little did he know that his bowlers were soon going be at the receiving end of a new world record partnership. Opening the innings for Kenya was the right-handed duo of wicketkeeper Kennedy Otieno and Dipak Chudasama, a qualified dentist.

  Chudasama became the first Kenyan to score an ODI hundred, going on to make 122 from just 113 balls – studded with 16 fours – and more significantly, shared in a mammoth opening stand of 225 with Otieno. This created a new record for the highest first-wicket partnership in ODIs, going past the 212 added by Australia’s Geoff Marsh and David Boon against India at Jaipur in 1986-87.

  The breakthrough was finally achieved when pace bowler Hasibul Hossain caught Chudasama off his own bowling, but any hopes of respite for Bangladesh were stymied by Otieno, who rushed to a century of his own during the course of a second-wicket stand with Steve Tikolo – who had hit a fine 147 in the ICC Trophy final – that fetched 84 runs.

       Kenyan wicketkeeper Kennedy Otieno scored 144 to help set a strong base for his team against Bangladesh at Nairobi in 1997-98 (source – cricket.com.au)

  Otieno, who was third out at 316, batted three and a half hours for his 144, which took 146 balls and consisted of 12 fours and a six. This remains the highest ODI score by a Kenyan. A final flourish from Maurice Odumbe and Thomas Odoyo swelled the total to 347/3; the previous highest by a non-Test side was Zimbabwe’s 312/4 against Sri Lanka at New Plymouth in the 1992 World Cup.

  All the Bangladeshi bowlers came in for harsh treatment, none more so than off-spinner Sheikh Salahuddin, who returned 0/80 in his ten overs. Openers Athar Ali Khan and Shahriar Hossain gave Bangladesh a sound start by putting on 55, with Athar guiding the score to 100/2 before being caught and bowled by captain Aasif Karim for a well-compiled 61.

  This wicket ended Bangladesh’s resistance, as the Kenyan spinners, spun a web around the rest of the batting. Karim’s left-arm spin fetched him a career-best haul of 5/33 in his ten overs, which remained the national record till 2002-03, when Collins Obuya famously picked 5/24 in a World Cup match against Sri Lanka at the same venue. 

  Bangladesh lost their last eight wickets for only 97 to be bowled out for 197 in 43.4 overs. This 150-run margin was then Kenya’s highest in ODIs, which they bettered in 2006-07 with a 190-run drubbing of Scotland at Mombasa. Otieno was unsurprisingly adjudged as the man of the match. The tournament was eventually won by Zimbabwe, who beat Kenya 2-0 in the best-of-three finals. 

  At that time, the stand of 225 between Otieno and Chudasama was not only the highest for the first wicket, but also the fourth-highest for any wicket. The record was broken within a year, as Indian openers Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar stitched together 252 against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 1998. At the current date, it lies in 17th place in the list of highest opening stands in ODIs.

  Kenya’s total of 347/3 however continues to be the highest by an Associate nation in an ODI, though Scotland came close to breaking it with their total of 341/9 against Canada at Christchurch in 2013-14. As far as the highest ODI total by an Associate against a Test-playing nation is concerned, the record is Ireland’s 331/8 against Zimbabwe at Hobart in the 2015 World Cup.

Match Scorecard

IN FOCUS – Bags of fifteen for Sajib and Rushworth

  Fifteen-wicket hauls do not come everyday, but during this week we saw two such instances recorded in first-class cricket. The two bowlers who achieved this are Saqlain Sajib of Bangladesh ‘A’ and Chris Rushworth of Durham.

zsaqs      Saqlain Sajib took 15/132 for Bangladesh ‘A’ against Zimbabwe ‘A’, the best bowling figures by a Bangladeshi in first-class cricket (source – observerbd.com)

  Sajib, a left-arm spinner with considerable first-class experience, returned match figures of 15/132 for Bangladesh ‘A’ against Zimbabwe ‘A’ in the first unofficial Test at Cox’s Bazar. On the first day of the match itself, he destroyed the Zimbabwean batting order to finish with 9/82 in 31.1 overs in the first innings, which ended at 206. These are now the best ever bowling figures in an innings by a Bangladeshi, bettering the 9/84 taken by Abdur Razzak for Khulna against Chittagong in 2012-13. He lost the chance of a perfect ten when off-spinner Farhad Hossain took the sixth wicket to fall. Interestingly, all of Sajib’s nine victims were caught by fielders. The Zimbabwe ‘A’ spinners bowled equally well to restrict the hosts’ lead to five runs.

  But Sajib sealed the contest with another skillful display in the second innings. This time his figures were 6/50 in 21.2 overs as Zimbabwe ‘A’ subsided to 108. His performance eventually helped Bangladesh ‘A’ to ease to a six-wicket win. On a pitch tailor-made for the slower bowlers, all the 34 wickets in the match fell to spin. These match figures of 15/132 are now the best by any Bangladeshi. Razzak was the holder of this record too – he had taken 15/193 for Khulna against Barisal in 2011-12. In his 53-match career for Rajshahi (the team he currently plays for) and Chittagong, 25 year-old Sajib has taken 244 wickets at 20.91. He made his debut in 2006-07, but due to the plethora of left-arm spin options available for the national side, has never been able to press his case. Perhaps this feat will give the selectors something to ponder about.

chris rushworth ball    Chris Rushworth ripped through the Northants batting line-up twice in one day, finishing with 15/95, a new Durham record (source – theguardian.com)

  Just a day later, it was the turn of Durham fast bowler Chris Rushworth to do the same, against Northamptonshire at Chester-le-Street. Moreover, he took all the 15 wickets on the same day and that too in the space of a mere 18 overs. After Durham made 392 in their first innings, Rushworth took over on the third day – effectively the second day, as the first day had been washed out – and consigned Northants to a first-innings total of 83 in just 23 overs. His figures were 9/52 in 12 overs, the best figures in this county season. He was denied a ten-wicket haul when Ben Stokes took the ninth wicket. A few minutes later, Rushworth repeated the mayhem, this time taking 6/43 in just eight overs. Northants, already relegated, were shot out for a pitiful 90 in 17.2 overs. The dismal performance of the Northants batsmen made India’s second innings in last month’s final two Tests against England look like masterpieces in batsmanship.

  Rushworth’s 15/95 are the best match bowling figures in the county Championship since 2000, when Martin Bicknell took 16/119 for Surrey against Leicestershire. Also, they are now the best first-class match bowling figures by a Durham bowler, eclipsing the 14/177 by Alan Walker against Essex in 1995. Durham’s best innings figures remain the 10/47 taken by Ottis Gibson against Hampshire in 2007. 28 year-old Rushworth has been representing Durham since 2010. In 54 first-class matches till date, he has taken 182 wickets at 24.84. Strangely, he had failed to take a single five-wicket haul this season, but now sits third in the list of highest wicket-takers this season in Division One with 58 scalps. Durham, the 2013 champions, are placed fifth in the table with a match to go. Yorkshire have won the title with a round remaining.

  As far as Test cricket is concerned, it has been a while since a fifteen-wicket haul was recorded. The latest such instance was Harbhajan Singh’s 15/217 for India against Australia at Chennai in 2000-01.

Match Scorecards:-

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/775069.html

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/692855.html

 

Famous Test Matches – Pakistan v Bangladesh, Multan, 2003

  This was the third Test of Bangladesh’s first full tour of Pakistan. The hosts had unsurprisingly sealed the series by winning the first two Tests, but it did not come as easy as expected.

  In the first Test at Karachi, Pakistan were set a tricky 217 to win while in the second Test at Peshawar, Bangladesh had taken a 66-run lead in the first innings before imploding in the second.

  This third Test was played at the Multan Cricket Stadium from September 3-6, 2003. The ground had hosted only one Test before, which was also between Pakistan and Bangladesh (part of the Asian Test Championship) in 2001. While the 2001 game had resulted in a hiding by an innings and 264 runs for Bangladesh, the one in 2003 was completely in contrast, as it went way down to the wire.

  As it happened, the result was a heart-breaking one for Bangladesh, who missed out on what has been, till date, their best chance to upset a full-strength top-eight nation in a Test match.

  On a pitch assisting the seamers early on, Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud – star of Bangladesh’s win against Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup – decided to bat after winning the toss.

  Umar Gul removed Hannan Sarkar early, but Javed Omar and Habibul Bashar applied themselves very well to put on 74 runs for the second wicket. Bashar went on to make a solid 72 before being fourth out at 166. He was caught behind by Pakistan’s wicketkeeper-captain Rashid Latif off 17 year-old debutant fast bowler Yasir Ali, who took his maiden Test wicket.

  Rajin Saleh – who made his debut in the first Test of the series – and Khaled Mashud kept up the good work by sharing a 62-run stand for the sixth wicket. Bangladesh ended the first day at a healthy 248/6.

  Gul (4/86) removed Mashud early on the second day to get his fourth wicket, before Shabbir Ahmed cleaned up the tail. Bangladesh finished with a total of 281, losing their last five wickets for 40 runs. Captain Mahmud then handed the advantage to his side by nipping out three wickets to leave Pakistan at 50/3.

  Yasir Hameed – who enjoyed a sensational Test debut in the series opener at Karachi by making 170 and 105 – and Younis Khan put on 71 for the fourth wicket before Mahmud (4/37) returned to claim his fourth wicket in the form of Younis, who was caught behind.

  Fourteen runs later, the reliable left-arm spinner Mohammed Rafique bowled Hameed, which sparked a collapse. From a relatively secure 135/4, the hosts were dismissed for 175. Rafique punctured the middle and lower order and returned figures of 5/36. The top score of the innings was 39 by Hameed.

zrafuq       Mohammed Rafique engineered a batting collapse in Pakistan’s first innings en route to figures of 5/36 (source – teamoftiger.com)

  With a lead of 106 runs, Bangladesh had every reason to feel optimistic of a historic first ever Test win. But just like the Peshawar Test – where they were bowled out for 96 in the second innings – the Bangladeshi batsmen began to lose the plot in the face of some effective fast bowling from Gul and Shabbir.

  Within thirteen overs, Bangladesh were reduced to 41/4. They suffered a further blow when Alok Kapali was forced to retire hurt after being hit on the helmet by Shabbir with the score at 71. The second day ended with Bangladesh at 77/4, and in spite of that, they held the edge over Pakistan with a 183-run lead.

  Kapali returned to bat on the third day, only to be dismissed through a controversial catch by Latif. With the score at 91/5, Kapali edged one off Yasir Ali to the Pakistan captain, who dived and claimed the catch. The umpires, believing the catch to be clean, gave it out.

  However, television replays later showed that the ball had clearly rolled on to the ground before Latif gloved it. It can be said that this incident did have a bit of an effect on the final result, as Kapali was battling well with Saleh for company. Saleh top-scored with 42 before he too was caught by Latif, this time cleanly.

  Bangladesh could eventually muster 154 runs in their second innings. Once again, Gul and Shabbir were the pick of the bowlers, with 4/58 and 4/68 respectively. Pakistan were faced with their highest target of the series, that of 261 runs with ample time remaining.

  Openers Salman Butt and Mohammed Hafeez began well, putting on 45 runs at more than five runs an over. Left-arm fast bowler Manjural Islam provided the breakthrough by removing Butt, who was caught by Kapali’s substitute Mashrafe Mortaza for 37.

  Islam also removed Hafeez while Mahmud accounted for Hameed – both caught by Mortaza as well – as Pakistan were suddenly 78/3. Three runs later, Younis Khan was unnecessarily run out for a duck thanks to a direct hit from Mohammed Ashraful, leaving the Bangladeshis ecstatic. Rafique then scalped debutant Farhan Adil to leave the hosts tottering at 99/5 and staring at defeat.

  Their only hope was Inzamam-ul-Haq, who came in to bat at 62/2. Late in the day, Mahmud had Latif leg before to further dent Pakistan. After a highly eventful third day, Pakistan were 148/6, still needing 113 runs to win and with Inzamam unbeaten on 53.

  Before the start of the fourth day, Bangladesh would have been aware that just one wicket separated them from achieving the win which they so desperately wanted. Given the rawness of the Pakistani tail, all that the Tigers needed was to see the back of Inzamam. But Inzamam, playing in his hometown, was a man on a mission.

  The gentle giant was in the midst of one of his worst phases when he strode out to bat in the second innings. In the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, he had scored just 16 runs in six games, while in the Test matches against Bangladesh, he had scores of 0, 43 and 35* and 10. His place in the team was under scrutiny, and he could not have asked for a better platform to prove a point to his critics, that too in front of his home crowd.

zzinzi     Inzamam-ul-Haq acknowledges his home crowd after reaching his century which paved the way for Pakistan’s thrilling win (source – espncricinfo.com/AFP)

  The partnership between Inzamam and Saqlain Mushtaq had grown to 32 before the latter was out caught behind off Mahmud. Next man Shabbir was dropped by Sarkar at second slip when on nought, a miss which would prove to be costly for the Tigers. Even though Shabbir scored only five, he aided Inzamam in a crucial 41-run stand for the eighth wicket.

  Rafique castled Shabbir to make it 205/8, at which point Gul joined Inzamam, who was batting on 89. The tension was growing by the minute as Inzamam and Gul steadily whittled down the target. With 49 runs still required, Gul just escaped being run out off a direct hit.

  In the same over, Rafique opted not to run Gul out when the latter was backing up too far. These incidents contributed towards a 52-run partnership for the ninth wicket. Inzamam redeemed himself with a hundred when the score was 217/8, but the job for his team was still to be done.

  With luck against them, it was all slowly slipping from Bangladesh’s grasp when a poor call from Inzamam led to Gul’s run out, the score now being 257/9. For the eighth and ninth wickets, 93 runs were added, of which 74 were scored by Inzamam. Four runs needed, one wicket in hand.

  Out came Yasir Ali – the teenager on debut who had never played a first-class match previously. In the ninety-first over of the innings (bowled by Mahmud), Yasir managed to play out the first three balls he faced before taking a single to give Inzamam the strike for the final ball.

  The big man cracked the winning boundary as supporters rushed on to the field to congratulate him. Bangladesh were shattered, as they lost a gripping battle against a man determined to win it for his nation.

  Inzamam remained unbeaten on 138 off 232 balls, batting for five hours and 17 minutes and scoring 20 fours and a six. Pakistan secured a series whitewash by the thinnest of margins.

  This was to be Latif’s final Test appearance for Pakistan. Due to the catching controversy, match referee Mike Procter banned him for five ODI matches. In 2009, he himself admitted that he was aware that the catch was not cleanly taken, yet appealed for it. Latif’s replacement as captain was Inzamam, who stayed at the helm till March 2007. With one of his best innings, he had resurrected his career.

  The series-winning Pakistan team had many debutants and the inexperience perhaps contributed to the closeness of the games. Regarding the three debutants of the Multan Test, Yasir Ali and Farhan Adil never played a Test again, while Salman Butt put paid to his career after the spot-fixing episode in 2010. Gul, Hameed, Hafeez and Shabbir all debuted in the first Test of this series.

  As for Bangladesh, they have never come this close to winning a Test against a stronger team, although their three-wicket defeat to Australia at Fatullah in 2005-06 was equally hard to digest. They are still waiting for that elusive Test win against a full-strength top-eight nation.

Match Scorecard

Record Book – Bangladesh’s only overseas Test series win

  Later this month, the Bangladesh cricket team will begin their third tour of the West Indies. The Tigers had previously visited the Caribbean in 2004 and 2009. The 2009 visit was historic for them, as they recorded their first and till date, only overseas series victory.

  It is a fact that Bangladesh were awarded Test match status much earlier than they deserved. Though they performed quite impressively in their first ever Test against India in 2000-01, it has been a rough ride ever since. Their first Test match win came in the 35th attempt, when they beat Zimbabwe by 226 runs at Chittagong in 2004-05.

  Currently, their record reads a woeful 4 wins, 68 defeats and 11 draws in 83 Tests. Two of these four wins came during the two-Test series on the above-mentioned tour of the West Indies in 2009. Just like the Zimbabwean side of 2004-05, the West Indies side of 2009 was an understrength outfit.

  As many as 13 regular first-choice players pulled out of the series against Bangladesh due to a long-standing contract dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board. The situation became so desperate for the hosts that they were eventually captained by Floyd Reifer, who had last played a Test back in 1998-99. This fracas was one of the most shameful episodes in West Indian cricket history.

  But for Bangladesh, this was a golden opportunity to secure a rare win or two. The first Test was played at the Arnos Vale ground in Kingstown, St Vincent from July 9-13, 2009. There were an eye-popping nine debutants in the game – seven of them for the West Indies. That the combined number of Test caps in the West Indian eleven were just 22 shows how weakened the team was.

  Bangladesh, captained by Mashrafe Mortaza, elected to bat on winning the toss. Rain allowed only 18.5 overs on the first day, with the visitors at a steady 42/0. However on Day 2, the Bangladeshi batsmen failed to put up any noteworthy partnership and slumped to 100/5.

  Four batsmen crossed 30, but none of them made more than 39, which was the highest score of the innings (by Mortaza, who came in at 149/7). The last three wickets added a vital 89 as Bangladesh ended their innings at 238. Kemar Roach, one of the debutants, took 3/46.

ztamim        Tamim Iqbal was named Man of The Match for his match-winning 128 in the first Test at Kingstown in 2009 (source – theguardian.com)

  The West Indian reply was built around Barbadian opener Omar Phillips, who struck a fluent 94 on debut. Aided by important middle-order knocks from David Bernard (53) and Darren Sammy (48), the hosts managed to score 307, taking a decent lead of 69 runs. The two Bangladeshi debutants – fast bowler Rubel Hossain and left-arm spinner Mahmudullah Riyad took three wickets apiece.

  Throughout the fourth day, the Bangladeshi batsmen showed a maturity seldom associated with them. Tamim Iqbal scored 128 and shared a game-changing 146-run second wicket stand with Junaid Siddique (78). The visitors ended Day 4 at 321/5, leading by 252 runs.

  The Bangladeshi lower order subsided quickly early on the final day, and their final score was 345. Sammy (5/70) was the pick of the bowlers. The West Indies were thus set a challenging target of 277. The inexperienced home batsmen caved in under pressure and succumbed to the visiting spin duo of Mahmudullah (5/51, match-haul of 8/110 on debut)) and Shakib Al Hasan (3/39).

  Half the side were back in the hut with just 82 on the board, even as Bernard (52*) put up a valiant effort. Shakib trapped Tino Best leg-before off the first ball of the 71st over of the innings to bring up Bangladesh’s first ever overseas Test match win and only the second overall. The hapless home team was dismissed for 181, leaving the Tigers victorious by 95 runs.

  The action moved to the National Cricket Stadium in St Georges, Grenada for the second and final Test, to be played from July 17-21, 2009. As if the sheer inexperience of the West Indies was not enough, their woes were compounded when they encountered yet another pitch suited to Bangladesh’s strength of spin bowling.

  Mortaza was ruled out due to injury and Shakib led the side in this match. He won the toss and decided to field first. The Windies top three gave an assured start – Dale Richards cracking an attacking 69 – but the visitors’ three-pronged spin attack wrecked the middle order. 

  From 104/1, the hosts slumped to 160/7. Number three Travis Dowlin held one end up with a gutsy 95, and he was the last man out at 237. Each of the three spinners – Shakib, Mahmudullah and Enamul Haque jnr – bagged three wickets. The Bangladeshi reply was as unconvincing, as the home pace bowlers, led by Roach, reduced them to 77/4 on the second day.

zshakibb

         Shakib al Hasan, who was the captain in the second Test, poses with the trophy after guiding Bangladesh to a historic series win with an all-round display (source – banglacricket.com)

  Raqibul Hasan resisted with a score of 44 while wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim top-scored with 48 from number eight to bring a semblance of recovery. Bangladesh ended their first innings at 232, just five runs behind. Roach bowled his heart out, returning figures of 6/48. The Test now hinged upon how the West Indian batsmen tackled the Bangladeshi spinners in the second innings.

  Dowlin scored 49 from number three, but things looked bleak for the hosts at 110/5. Bernard, who top-scored with 69, added 56 for the sixth wicket with Sammy, before the last five wickets tumbled for only 43 to ensure that the West Indies were all out for 209 early on the fourth day. The spinners reaped a rich haul again, with Shakib (5/70) and Haque (3/48) at the forefront.

  The target for Bangladesh was 215 runs with ample time available. However, the pace duo of Roach and Sammy gave the hosts the upper hand, as they left Bangladesh tottering at 67/4. With a session to go on Day 4, the score was 103/4 and the match interestingly poised. Thereafter, the Hasans – Shakib and Raqibul – took charge.

  The two realised 96 runs for the fifth wicket at four runs an over to destroy the hosts’ chances of a series-levelling win. While Raqibul was dismissed for 65, skipper Shakib remained unbeaten on a brilliant, counter-attacking 96 off just 97 balls, and it was he who struck the winning boundary off Roach to spark jubliant scenes among his team-mates.

  Bangladesh reached 217/6, winning by four wickets with a full day to spare. Sammy’s 5/55 went in vain. Shakib led from the front and was named Man of the Match in the second Test as well as the Man of the Series. In almost nine years, the Tigers had just one victory to show, but now they had two more – that too away from home – in the space of twelve days.

  The West Indians had themselves to blame, and the loss was an egg on the face of the inept WICB administration. On the other hand, Bangladesh had a rare opportunity and they grabbed it with both hands. There were very few people in the stands to witness this moment, but nevertheless, the whole of Bangladesh must have celebrated with joy.

  Bangladesh’s next – and latest – Test match win was also achieved away from home, when they beat Zimbabwe by 143 runs at Harare to draw the series in 2013.

  The West Indies may have fielded a second-string side, but an overseas series clean sweep does not come everyday. This is easily Bangladesh’s most memorable Test achievement till date.

Match Scorecards:-
1st Test 
2nd Test 

Specials – Northern Ireland’s Commonwealth moment

  Cricket has been part of the Commonwealth Games only once, i.e in 1998 in Kuala Lampur, the Malaysian capital. Sixteen countries took part in the event, consisting of 50-over-a-side List A matches. Among the teams was Northern Ireland, who qualified by virtue of being a Commonwealth nation.

   The Ireland cricket team has always been an all-Ireland outfit as in rugby, but since the Republic of Ireland is not a Commonwealth nation, Northern Ireland played as a separate team. Led by Bready wicket-keeper Alan Rutherford, the Northern Irishmen were clubbed in Group C along with eventual gold medallists South Africa, Barbados and Bangladesh.

  The team was coached by M.V ‘Bobby’ Narasimha Rao, an all-rounder who played four Tests for India in the late seventies and later also represented Ireland in domestic cricket. The squad included two future Irish internationals, namely Kyle McCallan and Peter Gillespie. First up for Northern Ireland were the South Africans.

  Northern Ireland had crawled to 89/5 in 38.1 overs when rain intervened. Neil Carson and Derek Heasley had stitched an unbeaten sixth-wicket stand of 41 runs after a top-order collapse. The Duckworth/Lewis target for South Africa was 131 in 38 overs.

  Northern Ireland would have fancied their chances when fast bowlers Ryan Eagleson (who once played for Derbyshire) and Gordon Cooke stunned the South African top-order to reduce them to 23/4. It became 57/5 when Paul McCrum removed Jacques Kallis.

  However, Dale Benkenstein scored an unbeaten 44 and his partnership of 58 with Shaun Pollock for the sixth wicket made the difference. Eagleson (3/28) came back to dismiss Pollock, but South Africa reached 133/6 to win by four wickets with 38 balls to spare.

  In their second match, Northern Ireland were completely outclassed by Barbados. After electing to field, the Northern Irishmen watched helplessly as West Indian international opener and Barbadian captain Philo Wallace (92) put on 144 for the first wicket with fellow international opener Sherwin Campbell (60).

  Number three Adrian Griffith continued the domination by scoring 66 and shared a 73-run stand for the fourth wicket with Mark Lavine (44*). Barbados piled up a hefty total of 296/5. Off-break bowler John ‘Dekker’ Curry – who is an uncle of the current Ireland ‘A’ batsman Chris Dougherty – was the pick of the bowlers with 2/42.

  Northern Ireland crashed to 17/3 in reply, and from that point onwards, lost interest in the chase. They scrapped to a measly 120/7 in 50 overs to go down by 176 runs. Stephen Smyth made a fighting 58 from number three.

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          Fast bowler Gordon Cooke returned figures of 5/35 to help Northern Ireland trounce Bangladesh in the 1998 Commonwealth Games (source – espncricinfo.com)

   The third and final game was against Bangladesh at the Royal Selangor Club. Like Northern Ireland, Bangladesh too were beaten in their first two games and hence this match was all about avoiding the bottom place in the group. After being put in to bat, Northern Ireland lost wickets at regular intervals and were struggling at 67/5 when McCallan came to the crease.

  A 41-run stand for the sixth wicket between McCallan and Andrew Patterson revived the innings. A further 39 runs were added for the eighth wicket between McCallan – who scored an unbeaten 53 – and Cooke. The final total was 177 in 49.3 overs.

  Even though Bangladesh were at full strength and were to become a Test nation in two years, their brittle batting gave Northern Ireland a good chance to bow out on a high. The Northern Irish bowlers grabbed that chance with both hands as Bangladesh began their chase in an utterly disastrous manner.

  Cooke and Eagleson bowled splendidly to reduce Bangladesh from 3/0 to 4/4 and then 13/5. Only Khaled Mahmud, with 27 from number eight, showed any resistance as wickets fell in a heap. The entire innings lasted just 21 overs as Bangladesh were bundled out for a woeful 63.

  Cooke was the star of the show with a haul of 5/35 – the second-best figures of the event – while Eagleson took 3/15. McCallan added one wicket to his crucial 53 before Curry snapped up the final wicket to ensure a convincing victory by 114 runs. 

  Of this squad, McCallan and Gillespie were part of the Ireland team that created history in the 2007 World Cup, with McCallan taking two wickets each in the tie against Zimbabwe as also the wins against Pakistan and Bangladesh. Cooke played his last game for Ireland in the 2005 ICC Trophy final, while Eagleson called it quits the year before that.

  Earlier in 1998, a few members of this squad were part of the Ireland side which played the touring South Africans in two 50-over matches, Cooke taking 4/60 in the first of them.

  These happen to be the only matches against international opposition that Northern Ireland have played as a separate team.

Match Scorecard

SPECIALS – Asia Cup finals over the years

  The final of the twelfth edition of the Asia Cup is slated to be played on 8th March between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dhaka. Let us look back on the previous finals of the continental ODI tournament.

1983-84 – No final was played. India won the inaugural tournament on account of beating both Sri Lanka (by 10 wickets) and Pakistan (by 54 runs) in a single round-robin format in Sharjah.

1985-86 – Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 5 wickets at Colombo (SSC)

  Sri Lanka made the most of holders India’s absence from the tournament by clinching the title with a win over Pakistan at the Sinhalese Sports Club. In a 45 over game, Pakistan were restricted to 191/9 after Duleep Mendis elected to field. Pakistan endured a disastrous start – they were 32/4 – before Javed Miandad staged a fightback with 67, adding 65 for the 6th wicket with Manzoor Elahi. Little-known pacer Kaushik Amalean took 4/46. Sri Lanka were 64/3 in reply but Aravinda de Silva (52) and Arjuna Ranatunga (57) sealed the deal with a 97-run fourth wicket stand. Though both were dismissed, Sri Lanka reached 195/5 in 42.2 overs. Abdul Qadir took 3/32.

1988-89 – India beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets at Dhaka

  India won their second title after a comprehensive win in the final at the Bangabandhu Stadium. Being put into bat, defending champions Sri Lanka were bowled out for only 176 in 43.2 overs in spite of a 53-run opening stand. No one got a substantial score, with Duleep Mendis’ 36 being the highest. Kris Srikkanth’s part-time off-spin fetched him 3/12. India got off to a brisk start, and their innings was built around an 84-run third wicket stand between Navjot Sidhu (76) and captain Dilip Vengsarkar (50*). Kapil Dev brought up the winning runs with a boundary as India reached 180/4 in 37.1 overs.

1990-91 – India beat Sri Lanka by 7 wickets at Calcutta

Kapil-Dev   Kapil Dev’s hat-trick in the 1991 Asia Cup final at Eden Gardens helped India to an easy win over Sri Lanka and their third title (source – deccanchronicle.com)

  India hosted the tournament for the first time, and this time it was Pakistan who pulled out of it due to political reasons. With yet another facile win over Sri Lanka in the final, India secured their third title. In a game reduced to 45 overs, Mohammed Azharuddin decided to field. Disciplined bowling and fielding by the hosts saw Sri Lanka reach 92/3 before a 58-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Asanka Gurusinha and Arjuna Ranatunga (who top-scored with 49) steadied things. 

  But Kapil Dev (4/31) wrecked the middle and lower order as Sri Lanka went from 175/4 to 181/8, eventually ending at 204/9. Kapil took a hat-trick, dismissing Roshan Mahanama, Sanath Jayasuriya and Rumesh Ratnayake off successive balls. In reply, India slipped to 30/2, but Sanjay Manjrekar’s 75* and his stands of 91 and 84* with Sachin Tendulkar (53) and Azharuddin (54*) for the third and fourth wicket respectively ensured India reached 205/3 with 17 balls to spare.

1994-95 – India beat Sri Lanka by 8 wickets at Sharjah

  The tournament returned to Sharjah but the pattern of the final was very much similar to the previous two editions. India completed a hat-trick of titles by swamping Sri Lanka by 8 wickets, after again electing to field. The Lankans were never really allowed to score freely and were kept to 230/7 off their 50 overs. Asanka Gurusinha top-scored with a solid 85, rescuing his side from a wobbly 89/4. Venkatesh Prasad and Anil Kumble took two wickets each.

  The Indian openers fell early to make the score 58/2, but not before Sachin Tendulkar had laid the platform with a run-a-ball 41. There was to be no further success for Sri Lanka, as Navjot Sidhu (84*) and captain Mohammed Azharuddin (90*) put on an unbeaten association of 175 for the third wicket to guide India to 233/2 in just 41.5 overs and yet another easy Asia Cup victory.

1997 – Sri Lanka beat India by 8 wickets at Colombo (RPS)

  Sri Lanka took full advantage of home conditions to turn the tables on holders India in the final at the Premadasa Stadium and record their second Asia Cup title. Indian skipper Sachin Tendulkar elected to bat first, but soon his side were in trouble at 59/3 with the top three back in the hut. Tendulkar (53) and Mohammed Azharuddin (81) then revived the innings with a fourth-wicket partnership of 109, with the latter putting on a further 47 with Ajay Jadeja for the fifth wicket to give some much-needed impetus.

  The  eventual total was a competitive 239/7, Chaminda Vaas and Kumar Dharamsena taking two wickets apiece. The Sri Lankan opening pair of Sanath Jayasuriya and Marvan Atapattu then went hell for leather, adding 137 to shut out the Indians. Jayasuriya smashed 63 off only 52 balls. Captain Arjuna Ranatunga (62*) then hastened the win by adding an unbroken 96 for the third wicket with Atapattu, who stayed unbeaten on 84. Sri Lanka scored 240/2 in just 36.5 overs.

2000 – Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 39 runs at Dhaka

  The tournament returned to the Bangabandhu Stadium and Pakistan recorded their maiden triumph. Opener Saeed Anwar guided Pakistan with a sedate 82 after their captain Moin Khan elected to bat. Anwar shared a 68-run stand with Yousuf Youhana for the third wicket. When he got out, Sri Lanka had kept things pretty tight – the score was 173/4 in the 40th over. At that point, Moin joined Inzamam ul-Haq at the crease and the duo proceeded to bludgeon the bowlers. ‘Inzy’ made 72* off 88 balls while Moin clobbered 52* off just 31 balls as they put on an unbroken 104 for the fifth wicket in ten overs to help their side reach 277/4.

  Sri Lanka stumbled to 46/3 in reply before Marvan Atapattu and Aravinda de Silva added 71 for the fourth wicket. Atapattu and Russel Arnold (41) then added 79 for the 5th wicket to give their side a chance. However the last five wickets fell for only 42, Atapattu being seventh out for an in-vain 100. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 238 in 45.2 overs. Wasim Akram, Mohammed Akram and Arshad Khan all picked up two wickets.

2004 – Sri Lanka beat India by 25 runs at Colombo (RPS)

  Sri Lanka regained the trophy with their third title, again coming at home with a win over India in the final at the Premadasa Stadium. Sri Lanka slipped to 31/2 after deciding to bat before captain Marvan Atapattu and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara stitched together a third-wicket stand of 116. India bowled with discipline even though 32 extras were conceded, and and regular wickets in the last 15 overs made sure that the hosts could not up the run-rate.

  Sri Lanka ended up at 228/9 (Irfan Pathan and Sachin Tendulkar both took two wickets), though they would have had liked at least twenty runs more.But the Sri Lankan bowlers rose to the occasion and hardly allowed the Indians to bat freely. India limped to 62/3 in the 20th over. The spinners Sanath Jayasuriya (2/34) and Upul Chandana dried up the runs while also taking key wickets, and only Tendulkar (74) put up a fight. When he was out the score was 140/7 and the Indians were eventually restricted to 203/9.

2008 – Sri Lanka beat India by 100 runs at Karachi

  Pakistan hosted the Asia Cup for the first time. Sri Lanka retained the title with a big win over India in the final at the National Stadium. Ishant Sharma (3/52) struck early blows to have Sri Lanka at 66/4, but veteran opener Sanath Jayasuriya feasted against his favourite opposition. He found a willing ally in Tillakaratne Dilshan, and the two raised a fifth-wicket partnership of 131 runs. Jayasuriya was fifth out for a typical 125 off 114 balls, hitting nine fours and five sixes. Valuable runs from the lower order helped Sri Lanka get to 273 in 49.5 overs.

sport-graphics-2008_777596a  Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis in action during the 2008 final, in which he took a stunning 6/13 to condemn India to a 100-run defeat (source – telegraph.co.uk)

  Virender Sehwag (60 off 36 balls) then gave a rousing start to India until ‘mystery spinner’ Ajantha Mendis arrived. Mendis removed Sehwag off his second ball and went on to rip through the Indian batting line-up as they went from 76/1 in the 10th over to 173 all out in 39.3 overs. He ended with figures of 8-1-13-6, the best ever in the Asia Cup and his bamboozling spell helped Sri Lanka romp home by 100 runs to retain the title. 

2010 – India beat Sri Lanka by 81 runs at Dambulla

  India exacted revenge on the Lankans in the latter’s home turf of the Rangiri International Stadium to win the title for the first time since 1994. A solid batting display helped the Indians reach 268/6 after MS Dhoni opted to bat. Almost everyone contributed to a certain extent, with opener Dinesh Karthik’s 66 being the highest. Karthik put on 62 with Virat Kohli and 46 with Dhoni for the second and third wickets respectively to lay a strong platform. Lasith Malinga and Thilina Kandamby bagged two wickets each.

  The Indian pace bowlers then severely dented Sri Lanka, as the hosts crashed to 51/5 in the 16th over, with the top five all dismissed and the match as good as over. Chamara Kapugedera (55) tried to revive things with a 53-run sixth wicket stand with Kandamby, but the result was never in doubt. Sri Lanka were bowled out for 187 in 44.4 overs. Ashish Nehra was the pick of the bowlers with 4/40, while Zaheer Khan and Ravindra Jadeja took two apiece.

2011-12 – Pakistan beat Bangladesh by 2 runs at Dhaka

  This was by far the most exciting of all Asia Cup finals, played at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur. Bangladesh had entered their maiden final, delighting their passionate supporters. After electing to field, the hosts made regular inroads into the Pakistani batting while keeping the run-rare tight as well. Umar Akmal and Hammad Azam added 59 for the fifth wicket to rescue their side from 70/4, but both fell for 30 each within four runs to make the score 133/6. It was wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed who provided the late impetus, with an unbeaten 46 from 52 balls. Pakistan ended at 236/9, with the last wicket raising a crucial 30 runs. Abdur Razzak took 2/26.

  Bangladesh got off to a confident start but then went from 68/0 to 81/3. Tamim Iqbal scored a 68-ball 60. Nasir Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan then shared an 89-run stand for the fourth wicket to give their team the momentum. But with the required rate rising, wickets began to fall. Shakib was fifth out for a 72-ball 68. It all boiled down to the final over, to be bowled by Aizaz Cheema (3/46) with the score 228/7. With four runs to win off two balls, Cheema bowled Razzak before only one run was managed off the last ball to leave Bangladesh at 234/8, breaking the hearts of the home crowd.