Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Memorable Test Win For Bangladesh

October 30, 2016.

A red letter day in the history of Bangladesh cricket.

(As an aside, do people still use the term "red letter day" any more or am I a hangover from an old English medium era?)

Sometimes, you as a fan know, simply know, in your heart that today, your team will succeed against all odds. In 1999, I remember telling my incredulous Pakistani friends that we would defeat them in the World Cup

Similarly today, I just had a gut feeling. Yes, it wasn't going to be easy, but somewhere, we all Tiger fans had that feeling.

This date joins others in the years - such as the 2012 wins over India, Sri Lanka and West Indies or the whitewashing of New Zealand in 2010 and later in 2013. 2015 was a banner year with victories over Pakistan, India and South Africa, but this date, October 30, 2016, will stand apart from all the rest.

It was the day when we arrived in Test cricket, after having a significant improvement in ODI cricket. Sure, we had Test victories over a full strength Zimbabwe team (surely an oxymoron in itself), or a weakened West Indies team, but this was the big fish. For the first time we beat a team that is in a bonafide contest for the no. 1 Test team in the world, the holder of the Ashes and had pretty much their first choice in team selection. And we didn't have our premiere bowler - Mustafizur. And we had come soooo close in Chittagong. 

I had been following the match from the first ball. It was good that today was Sunday here in Canada - I could forget about sleep and just watch the game. Well, in reality I did keep dozing off intermittently, but in my defense that is traditional for a Test cricket audience.

As a Bangladeshi wicket after Bangladeshi wicket fell in the morning, I kept thinking, why the hurry? Did our batsmen forget this was Test cricket, and not an ODI?

And then England raced to 100-0 to just before tea. The target was 273, a seemingly daunting one on a spinning wicket. Suddenly it was far less challenging, and flashbacks of the ODI decider kept coming back. We had what we thought was a good, challenging target, but England openers carved out a big chunk of it to make it an easy stroll.

I don't know what the coach told the team in the interval. Whatever it was, it seemed to work. Suddenly, in the next 22.2 mesmerizing overs, Shakib and Mehedi destroyed England. From 100-0 to 164 all out. 

This time, as each wicket fell, the anticipation grew. Test is really the best - and this game had it all. Sudden twists, batting collapses, umpire mistakes, overturned decisions, intrigue, colourful characters and so on. 

I mean the way Shakib gave Stokes a send off was the best if you had followed the series. Had a grin on my face as he departed.

And then suddenly after Shakib's three wickets in four balls ... after that over ... it was all down to the last wicket. Suddenly, there could be no doubt. And then Mehedi bowled that ball.

And then the umpire raised his finger. We all turned to Finn. Would he review the decision? Yes he would. Of course. But wait! England had no reviews left. 

This is it. 




We had won.

It was a hot smoggy winter's day and I was in Dhaka in 2005 as Bangladesh defended against Zimbabwe for 5 sessions to earn a draw and win the series 1-0. How far we have come from that!

Cholo Bangladesh!

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