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Bangladesh embarked on their first full tour of Pakistan with the aim of playing good cricket. And good cricket they played. Their long losing streak continued - Pakistan won all three Tests and five one-dayers - but the scoreline concealed more than it revealed.
After enduring three years of humiliation since their elevation in 2000, Bangladesh at last actually looked like a proper international side. In the Second Test, they took a first-innings lead for the first time, and it took a great individual performance from fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar to defeat them. And in the Third, at Multan, they were staring a historic maiden victory full in the face. Before the fourth day, their captain, Khaled Mahmud, put the likelihood of a Bangladesh win at 80%. It did not seem over-optimistic. But they were denied by a monumental innings from Inzamam-ul-Haq. Despite that deep disappointment, Bangladesh ended the series - the first in Pakistan since a bomb blast cut short New Zealand's trip in May 2002 - having taken a big step forward.
It was all very different from the three previous Tests between the sides, where Pakistan's narrowest scrape was a victory by an innings and 169 runs. Two factors played a major part in the turnaround. Firstly, Bangladesh had just returned from Australia, their first tour with Dav Whatmore as coach, having exceeded all expectations, and with their self-belief boosted. By contrast, Pakistan were still rebuilding after an unceremonious exit from the first round of the World Cup.
As a result, their side never had a settled look. There were too many experiments, and arguments over selection between captain Rashid Latif and chief selector Aamir Sohail simmered behind the scenes. Perhaps the most controversial choice was Junaid Zia, the 19-year-old son of Tauqir Zia, chairman of the Pakistan board. It was generally believed that there were far more deserving candidates than Junaid. In four one-day internationals he took three moderately expensive wickets.
An even bigger controversy involved Latif himself. He had been given the captaincy in the shake-up after the World Cup but his second stint ended ingloriously. During the Multan Test he claimed a catch having actually dropped the ball. Subsequently, he was banned for the entire one-day series, which - unlike the Tests - Pakistan won at a canter. Soon afterwards, he resigned the captaincy, criticising Sohail, Tauqir Zia and the coach Javed Miandad.
Inzamam stood in for Latif as captain in the one-day games, while Kamran Akmal took over as wicket-keeper. Akmal's arrival from club cricket in Ireland was delayed because the manager of his club had mistakenly locked his passport in a locker before going abroad on holiday.
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