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Feature

How will Bangladesh respond to the pressure of a 1-0 lead?

The hosts could draw confidence from their recent ODI run and comeback wins against England and Sri Lanka in Tests

Bangladesh celebrate their maiden Test win over Australia, Bangladesh v Australia, 1st Test, Mirpur, 4th day, August 30, 2017

Bangladesh are on the verge of the first series win over Australia  •  Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images

Before the Mirpur Test, Bangladesh had secured leads of 1-0 three times - twice against Zimbabwe in 2005 and 2014 and against a depleted West Indies side in 2009 - since being granted Test status in 2000. They pressed on to win the series on all three occasions. After beating Australia for the first time in Test cricket, Bangladesh find themselves with a shot at a landmark series victory. However, despite their difficulties in the subcontinent, Australia pose a threat to Bangladesh in Chittagong.
The tourists had reduced Bangladesh to 10 for 3 in four overs in the first innings in Mirpur, and later engineered a mid-innings collapse in the second. David Warner slammed a rapid hundred, and Matt Renshaw, the other opener, showed promise, but these contributions were not enough for Australia. Mushfiqur had a glint in his eyes when he said "they (Australia) are under pressure" but he was also wary of a comeback from Steven Smith's men.
Losing a Test series to the ninth-ranked side will put pressure on Smith and in this scenario, Australia have more to lose than Bangladesh.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, will be keen not to blow the opportunity of a lifetime. It is uncertain when Australia will next visit Bangladesh, and the odds will be heavily stacked against them when they tour Australia next year.
In this series, though, Bangladesh's players have not just dominated Australia with bat and ball but have also won the verbal battles. Tamim Iqbal picked up a demerit point after the Mirpur match for approaching Matthew Wade, and gesturing him to leave the field upon dismissal. In the first Test, Bangladesh's body language was aggressive, their fielding better than before, and their bowling mostly accurate. Shakib Al Hasan wasn't quite in a "Hadlee and Ilford Second XIs" situation, as Taijul Islam and Mehidy Hasan provided able support.
How Bangladesh will react to the unique pressure of a 1-0 lead will be interesting. Their history of taking a lead against higher-ranked sides in ODIs offers a possible window into their mentality. Against New Zealand in 2010 and 2013 they took 2-0 leads. Against West Indies in 2012, they were rampant in the first two games before giving up the lead but went on to win the decider. Against Pakistan and India in 2015, they took the lead and ended up winning the series, too.
These examples show glimpses of consistency in a single series. Bangladesh are not associated with getting on a roll, but these series wins over New Zealand, West Indies, India, Pakistan, and South Africa in the last seven years have helped their confidence soar.
Bangladesh's bouncebackability against England at home last year and in Sri Lanka this year should also keep them in good stead. They lost a tight game in Chittagong against England, but then leveled the two-Test series with a win in the second match. In Sri Lanka, they lost badly in Galle but rallied in Colombo.
All these developments have contributed to their overall progress. There have been many false dawns, too, most notably their slump after a good 2007 World Cup. It took them another five years to become a more consistent side. Ensuring a series win over Australia, either through a win or a draw in Chittagong, will certainly inject more confidence into the system. If a victory resembles the one in Mirpur, with a cheeky smile on their battle-hardened faces, it will be a huge triumph.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84