January 28, 2000

MCC salvage draw with Bangladesh

The Marylebone Cricket Club, with just two wickets remaining, somehow managed to draw the three day game against Bangladesh at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka. Bangladesh fielded its national team in the fourth match of the MCC's tour, so that the game would attain first class status. Two brilliant centuries by Shahriar Hossain Bidyut and skipper Aminul Islam steered Bangladesh in a commanding position after the end of the first day's play.

After the hurried dismissals of Javed Omar and Habibul Bashar, Aminul joined Shahriar with the score on 2/69. Together they piled up runs at tremendous pace, sharing a partnership worth 197 runs. Shahriar was the first to go, after he made 133 runs off 240 deliveries during his four and a half hour stay at the crease. By the end of the day, Aminul too had scored a well deserved hundred, and was unbeaten on 113 off 171 balls.

On the second day, Bangladesh declared their first innings on their overnight score of 303/3. MCC batted for 67 overs and made 218/3, before a surprise declaration came from their captain Min Patel. Early in the innings, MCC started disastrously, as Will House was lbw to Hasibul Hossain without scoring. However, Matthew Wood and one down Ben Smith, batted defiantly to take the score from 0/1 to 180, before Wood was bowled by Shafiuddin Ahmed (2/38).

In-form Anthony McGrath did not last long as he also got out lbw to Shafiuddin making just 5 runs. Smith was not out on 113 with 13 boundaries before what experts like to call the "sporting declaration" came, despite a deficit of 85 runs. Shahriar continued his fine display of strokes as he raced to 52 not out at stumps on the second day. He was accompanied at the crease by Habibul Bashar (38*), as Bangladesh reached 106/1. Shahriar Hossain set a new milestone in the history of Bangladesh cricket as he scored a century in both innings of the match. Shahriar who scored 133 in the first innings, added to his overnight score of 52*, and made a blitzkrieg hundred on the third day.

He and Habibul Bashar (85) piled up 205 runs for the second wicket, before Bashar was caught by McGrath off Patel. Aminul Islam then declared the innings, with the score on 226/1 and setting the visitors a target of 312, off at least 64 overs, that is at an asking rate of 4.9. MCC were once again in early trouble as Hasibul bowled Wood for just 8. Once again, Ben Smith (56) and this time with Will House (50) led MCC's recovery from 15/1 to 90/2.

After that Paul Nixon contributed 36 valuable runs, before wickets tumbled one after another in fairly quick succession. However, there were only a few overs remaining and the match was certain to be a draw. Bangladesh's hopes were renewed as Hasibul (4/64) grabbed two wickets quickly, and MCC were at this stage about to lose the match. With two wickets remaining, and the number nine at the crease with him, Patel pushed the match to a draw, with patience. Enamul Haq (2/50) and Naimur Rahman (1/58) were the other wicket takers. Shahriar Hossain was unarguably the man of the match for his two tons. Unfortunately, he fractured his arm on the field and is expected to be out for atleast seven to eight weeks.

The MCC will play a day/night match at the same venue on January 29. The three member ICC development committee team reviewing Bangladesh's performance said they were "fully satisfied", and were likely to submit a positive report to the ICC, which has its executive meeting in Singapore on February 8-10.

There is a possibility of granting Bangladesh test status on the basis of the report submitted by this visiting committee.