Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 1st Test, 5th day, Galle March 12, 2013

One of Bangladesh's best Test results

For a side that has lost an overwhelming majority of their Tests, a draw - whether on a featherbed or not - is a result to savour

How an uninteresting day of Test match cricket can essentially be a blessing was witnessed in Galle. Boring was good, nay great, for Bangladesh.

An interesting end to this game would have meant Bangladesh wickets falling quickly in the final sessions, and that was not going to be appropriate for a team that had posted a 600-plus score in the first innings. It was contested on a wicket that smothered any contest, but it is not the first time Bangladesh played on a featherbed. On 24 previous occasions a team has scored more than 500 against them and won handsomely.

In the context of a side that has lost 65 out of 76 Test matches, a draw has to be a positive result, though it is not too popular an idea for many. But this was exactly the sort of Test match that this team has worked on for years, especially the last five when they have shown steady improvement under Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan.

This was Bangladesh's eighth drawn Test match and only the second one in which playing time was not lost. The only other occasion was against Zimbabwe at home in 2005. Indeed against a major Test side, this was the first time they had drawn a game. Besides Bangladesh's Test wins against a young Zimbabwe in 2005 and a third-string West Indies in 2009, this is their best result in Test cricket given the opposition, the track record against the opposition and the very fact that Bangladesh had never taken the game into the fifth day in eight previous Tests in Sri Lanka. And not to forget, Bangladesh were understrength due to the absence of two of their major players.

Sri Lanka led by 48 runs on the fifth day, and as Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan picked up centuries, the Bangladesh fielders were visibly struggling. There were dives over the ball, several fumbles and offspinner Sohag Gazi had to rest due to leg cramps, and could bowling only 15 overs.

Mushfiqur was wary of what had happened on the fifth day against West Indies just three months ago. They had to chase 245 in more than two sessions but froze when it mattered - the bouncers were not handled properly and it ended up as a 77-run loss despite Bangladesh making their then highest Test score.

In preparation for this fifth day, the captain held two meetings with all the players, first after the end of the fourth day's play and then during warm-up on the fifth morning. The message was simple: "work harder on the fifth day, more than the first four days".

He emphasised the importance of not giving up, despite the physical struggle in the heat. This time, the goal was to just hold on till the end but there were hiccups with the bat too. The wicket of Anamul Haque highlighted the young opener's struggle against the swinging ball and perhaps more work on his technique is due. Jahurul Islam and Mohammad Ashraful, on whom all the focus was on after he had made 190, just about held on.

Mushfiqur later said the experience of the Dhaka Test last November played a part in their approach to the fifth day. They did not cower under the pressure of expectations, neither did they play their best cricket. They survived for five hours, and that's what they often fail to do.

Test cricket was certainly not been the winner in this game, but the competition provided by the underdogs provided some joy. Sri Lanka played it safe in the first session, probably not taking the risk of letting Bangladesh have a crack at a small total or a slower asking run-rate. This chunk of respect is what Mushfiqur and the rest of the Bangladesh team should strive to gain in every Test match. It cannot always be about winning, that's what this Test match has explained to Bangladesh.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adil on March 13, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    The most significant improvement of BD is the fact, they have minimized the tendency of getting packed up after a big partnership has broken. For the last few years, both in ODI and tests we have seen partnerships - at the start and at the end of the innings.

  • KH. RAFIQUE on March 13, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    @Praxis on (March 12, 2013, 20:16 GMT) Brother i can feel your worries. But we must have to understand that you can't produce a world class batsman, bowler or even wicket keeper over night. You must have to be patience enough. Frankly speaking 12 years of cricket is simply nothing for Bangladesh if we compare with other countries as most of the test playing countries have quite a long time of cricket before they got test status. Relating to that when we got test status we were not at all ready to get that. But as we are a fighter nation so we are almost in mid level of prime cricket just within of 12 years. So, keep some patience and faith on boys hopefully within next 5 years we will be in state of glory inshallah.

  • Tania on March 13, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    @Meety big neighbor doesn't have any pacers ..LOL..Aaron,Yadav are 140k bowlers better than ur so called pacers who have lost 3-0 to South Africa recently...

  • Arif on March 13, 2013, 6:10 GMT

    Don't forget the Test match between Bangladesh and West Indies (led by Lara) in 2004 which was drawn by Bangladesh and where Bashar, Rafique and Khaled Mashud scored centuries.

  • Andrew on March 13, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    @Praxis on (March 12, 2013, 20:16 GMT) - not wanting to bag other countries, but when you say "...we don't have any quality test bowlers, specially genuine quicks..." - other countries (a big neighbor of Banglandesh), have hardly had any pacers over a 70 year history. I think Bangladesh are now starting to track nicely, they need to back this up with another strong fight in the next test. I think Bangladesh have some good spinners & given a very good SL spinner (Herath) didn't do much, I think the banga bowlers get a pass mark on account of the pitch.

  • KH. RAFIQUE on March 13, 2013, 3:47 GMT

    Im not getting why most of the people are shouting for QUALITY PACE BOWLERS?Just look at the neighbors in subcontinent without PAK no other teams have very good pace bowlers.But they have very good batsman and excellent spinners which help them to win matches.So, we have to take that positives from them and concentrate more on Batsman and spinner (Through that we would search for good pacers indeed). So, dont need to worry for the TIGERS.Carry on......

  • Asaad on March 13, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    Isam bhai made a small mistake. We have 2 previous draws in which playing time was not lost. One against Zimbabwe after the rebel players left, and the first was in 2004 against a full strength West Indies in which Gayle, Chanderpaul, Lara, Sarwan all played. Interesting to note that Ashraful played an important role in that match as well (81 runs), and he is the only surviving member from that match!

  • Harsimran on March 13, 2013, 1:31 GMT

    Yes of course...... Brilliant batting by Bangladesh. But they certainly need to improve their bowling if they have to win test matches.

  • Sanjay on March 12, 2013, 23:54 GMT

    Excellent article by Mr. Isam, an excellent summary on Bangladesh's past and the importance of this draw.

  • shahadat on March 12, 2013, 22:21 GMT

    bangladesh played without their 6 regular players: tamim, shakib, naeem, shahriar nafees, najimuddin, rubel and enam jr. plus BD take lead and made double ton. so its BD's match all the way

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