Bangladesh v England, 1st Test, Dhaka, 2nd day October 22, 2003

Not quite a reversion to type

Mushfiqur Rahman on his way to a patient 34
© Getty Images

When England were at the bottom of the Test-playing heap, in those desperate months in mid-to-late 1999, they failed to pass 200 in the first innings of five consecutive matches, from the Edgbaston Test against New Zealand (126) to that 2 for 4 debacle at Johannesburg against South Africa (122).

Bangladesh, by contrast, have just completed the opposite feat, and for the first time in their brief history. But there won't be too many celebrations planned for the home dressing-room tonight. Since being bundled out for 97 at Darwin by Brett Lee and co., they had managed first-innings totals of 295, 288, 361 and 281. It is little wonder if they are feeling a little short-changed, after managing a mere 203 today.

This was not, however, a reversion to type for the Bangladeshis, who were always up against it after being mugged in the gloaming last night. As Michael Vaughan later proved, in eking his way to a single from his first 36 deliveries, runs on this wicket are extremely hard to come by (unless of course you are Marcus Trescothick). Occupation of the crease, as Khaled Mashud amply demonstrated, was the only surefire way of making headway.

England's bowlers were led superbly by Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison, whose contrasting styles complemented each other very nicely, and vindicated the decision to go in with just the two front-line seamers. Harmison's extra height and pace had already accounted for Javed Omar on the previous evening - when Rajin Saleh fell to a similar delivery, it proved only that Bangladesh need more practice against such explosive forms of bowling.

If Mashud's application showed what might have been possible on this pitch, then Alok Kapali's innings was quite simply a case of what might have been. Bangladesh were reeling at 40 for 4 when he came to the wicket to scatter the seamers to all parts. But unfortunately he was sent packing by a grotesque error of judgment.

Gareth Batty wasn't complaining, however. Kapali's cock-up meant he picked up a wicket with his third delivery - to a big-spinning offbreak as well - and he grew in confidence and aggression as a result. It was all pretty hard luck on Ashley Giles, who had been waiting for 18 months to influence a Test match, but who instead became the outlet for the aggressive instincts of the tail.

By the close, however, it was all looking a little bleak for the Bangladeshis. In the context of their previous results, it is hard to see anything other than a 16th innings defeat from this sort of a position. But as Dav Whatmore said, it is not the losing but the manner of the losing that counts. With luck there will be several more twists to come in this match yet.

Andrew Miller is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo. He will be accompanying England throughout their travels in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.