November 10, 2012

From the peaks to the pits

Multan 2003, all out for 62, and other peaks and valleys in Bangladesh's 12 years in Test cricket


The first, the longest Aminul Islam's 145 in Bangladesh's first Test lasted 535 minutes, still the longest innings by a Bangladesh batsman in Test cricket, and took 380 balls. In terms of highest score in a country's debut Test, he is second only to Charles Bannerman's 165 not out for Australia.

The heartbreak The third Test of the 2003 series in Pakistan will forever be remembered by Bangladesh fans, despite its disappointing end. Pakistan had had to fight for their 2-0 lead in the series, and Bangladesh's substantial first-innings lead in Multan ensured a tight finish. Inzamam-ul-Haq played the innings of his life, but the toil of Mohammad Rafique stood out as well, especially after he graciously chose not to run out a straying Umar Gul his run-up.

Ashraful's second coming Everyone lauds Mohammad Ashraful's debut hundred, especially because he was a little more than a boy when he made it. But his 2004 special, 158 against India in Chittagong, was timely for him and his side. The calls to withdraw Bangladesh's Test status were at their loudest at the time, and Ashraful hadn't scored a century after his debut effort either. The respite was only temporary, as the boy wonder of Bangladesh cricket never did go on to properly cash in on his talent.

Courtesy Enamul, Shakib Bangladesh's first Test win was more than five years in the making. It had several contributors - Habibul Bashar, Rajin Saleh, Rafique and Mashrafe Mortaza - but it would be Enamul Haque Jr's six-wicket haul that would finish the job, as Zimbabwe were bowled out swiftly in the second innings.

Bangladesh's first wins abroad came in the West Indies, but there was assistance from the home side, who were heavily depleted after a pay dispute resulted in the frontline West Indies players boycotting the series. Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah made the difference in the second innings of the first Test, with a hundred and a five-for respectively, and Shakib Al Hasan took eight wickets and scored a match-winning unbeaten 96 in the second game.

Tamim shines The story goes that Tamim asked a Lord's dressing-room attendant to put up his name on the honours board after he scored 55 in the first innings there in 2010 but was told that only a hundred would get him a place. Tamim then went about carving one out in grand manner, taking on an England attack rated the best in the world at the time, gesturing frantically to the attendant when he reached the milestone.


Seven wickets in 19 balls Bangladesh had conceded a 397-run lead in the first innings of their maiden Test against West Indies. Then it got worse. When Bashar fell in the 27th over of the second innings, the score was 80 for 4. Jermaine Lawson then took three wickets in an over with dipping inswingers: 81 for 7. Naimur Rahman played out two overs from Pedro Collins before Lawson removed Enamul Haque, Tapash Baisya and Talha Jubair in seven deliveries - Bangladesh bowled out for 87 runs for their biggest defeat, by an innings and 310 runs.

The outrageous double It was the second Test in the Bangladesh-Australia series of 2006, the one after Fatullah, where the No. 1 team in the world had stared at defeat a number of times before finally pulling through. Australia bowled Bangladesh out for 197 runs in the first innings in Chittagong. Matthew Hayden didn't last long and as it was getting towards the end of the first day, Jason Gillespie was sent in as a nightwatchman. Gillespie went on to bat for nine and a half hours, in which he faced 425 balls and scored a double-hundred. He added 320 runs with Michael Hussey and Bangladesh lost by an innings and 80 runs.

Demolition at the P Sara Reeling from an innings-and-234-run loss in the first Test, Bangladesh were asked to bat first in the second Test of their 2007 series against Sri Lanka. Saleh apart, none of the batsmen got to double figures, as Bangladesh were bowled out for 62 runs in little over two hours. Lasith Malinga and Muttiah Muralitharan took four each, and although Bangladesh fought back in the second innings with a century from the captain, Ashraful, it was still an innings defeat - one of three in the series.

Long day in March Bangladesh had South Africa under pressure in the first Test of the 2008 series, but the visitors wriggled out of a jam with a five-wicket win eventually. On a flatter, more even wicket in Chittagong, Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie got their teeth in. They batted out the first day, and when they got to 414, they broke the 52-year-old record for an opening stand in Tests. Bangladesh sank to an innings defeat and conceded the series meekly.

The big sit-out Mashrafe Mortaza has now missed 32 out of the 68 Tests played since his debut, all owing to leg injuries of various types. He played his last Test in 2009, when, after bowling six overs, he took a tumble on the wicket, in Kingstown, and damaged his right knee. It was not the first time he was injured but this would cost Bangladesh the most, as he was leading a young attack at the time. Bangladesh have since conceded a few good positions due to a lack of experience at the top in the pace bowling department.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh