Bangladesh v NZ, 1st Test, Chittagong, 5th day October 13, 2013

Bangladesh's greater unity brings rewards

Bangladesh are more cohesive than they were two years ago, and that's because of Mushfiqur Rahim's leadership and the rise in status of players like Sohag Gazi

If David Boon hadn't dived two feet to his right at short leg, there wouldn't have been an MCG hat-trick for Shane Warne. At Eden Gardens in 2001, it was Sadagoppan Ramesh's swift right hand that gave Harbhajan Singh his famous hat-trick. And today, Sohag Gazi needed Shakib Al Hasan to dive from leg slip and catch the ball as it was about to drop in front of first slip, after the edge from Doug Bracewell had ricocheted off the wicketkeeper Mushiqur Rahim's pads.

The catch that gave Gazi his hat-trick was stunning, because of the distance Shakib had to cover and his courage at not giving a hoot about the fielder who was about to swoop in from first slip.

Shakib's feat said a lot about this Bangladesh team. Gazi had talked about how senior players like Shakib and Abdur Razzak had talked to him about his bowling, when the Bangladesh board had made it clear that the spin consultant Saqlain Mushtaq would not be available before 2014. Gazi had never had a bowling mentor before, and he needed Saqlain at a time when his form had taken a dip.

The development of a more congenial environment in the team has not been talked about outwardly, but there have been moments in the field that indicate Bangladesh are a cohesive unit, and not a divisive one.

Bangladesh had gone through a hard time when there appeared to be a gap between Shakib and Tamim, and the rest of the team. It had to do with the high profiles of those two celebrity players, but the number of performers has increased over the last couple of years. Nasir Hossain, Mominul Haque, Robiul Islam and Gazi have not reached the status of Tamim or Shakib, but they are getting there. Within the team environment, it has become easier to handle stars and treat everyone more equally than before.

The captain Mushfiqur Rahim must take most of the credit, but he too has had to overcome difficulty. He took over two years ago, at a time when Bangladesh cricket was going through a tumultuous phase, having lost to Zimbabwe and with Shakib and Tamim being abruptly removed from leadership. Mushfiqur has handled several issues adroitly, such as the players regrouping after a controversial first BPL. He was in the most trouble for speaking out about the unpaid fees.

Mushfiqur picked that moment to inspire his side, and they won ODIs against India and Sri Lanka, and were eventual Asia Cup runners-up after a heart-breaking loss in the final. Mushfiqur also had to tackle long breaks between seasons, because Bangladesh do not get a lot of Test cricket.

After this year's BPL, Mushfiqur saw several players turning up injured for their preparatory camp ahead of the Sri Lanka tour, creating a chaotic situation with long queues outside the physio's room. He managed to shift the focus to Test cricket again, overcoming worries about injuries and more unpaid BPL wages.

Mushfiqur also had to battle his own demons. After losing the ODI series to Zimbabwe in May, he suddenly resigned. There were rumours flying about but it was clearly an emotional decision. He was quickly reappointed, but there was going to be a lot of pressure on him from the BCB directors had Bangladesh not done well in this game. It is necessary to understand the background of this team's development, when putting Gazi's hat-trick into context.

Gazi had done extremely well in first-class cricket but since he played for Barisal Division, one of the worst teams, he had gone unnoticed. Under Mushfiqur and former chief selector Akram Khan, however, the focus has been on good performers, regardless of their pedigree. Gazi is a product of all the troubles Mushfiqur had to solve. He is here because Bangladesh cricket is slowly moving away from the tradition of promoting talented cricketers from age-group competitions.

Ever since his Test debut, Gazi has made headlines. Mushfiqur asked him to open the attack against Chris Galye in the Dhaka Test last year. It made Gazi the first offspinner in Test history to bowl the first over of a match on debut, and the first debutant spinner to do so in 103 years. Within a few overs, he dismissed Chris Gayle, who had earlier smacked him for a six off his first ball. Gazi took nine wickets in the match, and on his ODI debut, he was the Man of the Match for his four-wicket haul, which won Bangladesh the game in Khulna.

Gazi's fortune dipped in Sri Lanka where, on his first tour, he had to be the lead bowler in the absence of Shakib. The Zimbabwe tour wasn't great either, as he struggled in different conditions. There was a poor tour of England two months ago, as well as unremarkable performance in the Dhaka Premier League too.

However, as Gazi felt the arm ball slide out of his fingers and then saw it dip and nick Doug Bracewell's edge, clip Mushfiqur Rahim's right pad and fall into Shakib's diving fingers, the hat-trick was completed and the place in history secured. But he had done the same thing nearly a year ago.

Only a small group of most ardent followers in Bangladesh and highly-aware cricket statisticians around the world know that Gazi has scored a hundred, taken a hat-trick and a five-wicket haul in a first-class match, for Barisal against Khulna in the National Cricket League.

He took the wickets of Taposh Ghosh, Rubel Hossain and Al-Amin Hossain, which gave him seven wickets in the innings and nine in the match. Earlier in the game, Gazi had struck 119 off 93 balls, after reaching the century off 76. It was the second fastest first-class century in Bangladesh, just behind a 67-ball century in October 2011 - his own feat.

Gazi's set and broken records in the month of October, in 2011, 2012 and 2013. What will October 2014 bring, when Zimbabwe tour Bangladesh?

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2013, 13:52 GMT

    Another here i can say... i'm criticize Mr. Islam write-up a lot but this is a very nice write -up. Special Thanks from me for this write-up.

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2013, 13:49 GMT

    Gazi is one of the best player in the world for his world record. There is a lot world class bowler and batsman those not made a record like this. If Bangladesh will lost more than 100 or more match against India or any state of India i'll never mind but i'll proud for Gazi's record forever and i wish it long last forever.

  • Dummy4 on October 15, 2013, 15:10 GMT

    @corzaNZ......Well i guess u have not been following BD cricket after that NZ series last time, apart from Zim and Wi series......Bd beat india and srilanka to reach Asia cup final where they lost by 2 runs, in tour of srilanka they drew 1 test and level the ODi series every match atleast 1 BD player scored a cebtury and they crossed 500+ 3 times in the last 7 tests, they almost beat WI in the test , they have not lost by innings or more than 10 matches which was a very regular sight fir them, NZ were lucky in this match because of that last wicket partnership, and one decision by the umpire went against us during tht partnership........please befor commenting try to do a bit of reserach.

  • Corey on October 14, 2013, 22:12 GMT

    @Zahid Islaam: Just like the Sri Lanka series, that ODI series has nothing to do with this test match. Bangladesh out played us back then i never mentioned anything about it. Anyway that was 3 years ago, what else have Bangladesh done since? excluding beating Zimbabwe, just one ODI series win against WI? My point is still Bangladesh have good and promising players to build around but just hold off all the praise about them being able to beat the top teams now until they constantly compete and win series

  • Dummy4 on October 14, 2013, 19:54 GMT

    corzaNZ, so, NZ was weak when they visited us last time and we won the ODI series and this time they are weak again ?

    We haven't played just one good game against NZ, we thrashed NZ 3 years ago and sent them packing home.

  • Android on October 14, 2013, 12:13 GMT

    its obvious almost every state team in India will beat India but you have to consider how many years India playing cricket and we are superpower. whereas Bangladesh is very new and just overcome minnow status.they are very good in home and not so good in overseas but how many games do they play outside? I think bng need another 10 years to improve in whole and wish they will be established as a strong test team. and 2014 wc will act as a catalyst. Just make a better fc structure involving whole nation rather make it in dhaka. you'll improve.

  • Dummy4 on October 14, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    Feeling great. There are a lot of performers in Bangladesh team now.This will minimize the pressure on celebrity players. Now the target is keep performing & increase the ranking.

  • mohammad on October 14, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    Rajeev Jalan Nothing to be proud of.Even a zonal side of India is bigger than Bangladesh in size.

  • Dummy4 on October 14, 2013, 5:19 GMT

    any zonal side of india will beat bangladesh

  • Corey on October 14, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    When we DRAW a TEST in Sri Lanka, it was a completely different side to this one, only 5 remain from it. i never said anything about Sri Lanka being weak at all, that result has nothing to do with this test match. Just NZ at the moment are not the strongest and if it wasnt for that no ball Bangladesh possibly should have won this match. My point is although Bangladesh played well and have players of the future, one game against NZ doesnt make them world beaters. They have a way to go yet but at least this is the start for them to build on.