Roaring Royal Bengals put Bangladesh brightly in the world map once again. White washing a country with rich Cricket tradition -West Indies in their own backyard by young enterprising Bengal tigers is definitely one of the greatest achievements that happened in our sporting history. Victory in two consecutive tests, winning the first ever away series. These all happened when our cricket pride almost hit the rock bottom after miserable forgettable performance in T20 world cup. It is a massive victory, a monumental achievement. A great turn around. Heartiest congratulations to Mashrafee – Saquib and Bangladesh Cricket.
True West Indies was a depleted side following revolt of all first team players on industrial dispute. Yet the team that was hurriedly put together were no mug. Ryan Hinds, Darren Sammy, Tino Best played tests before. Richards, Roach are knocking at the door. All West Indians play in fist class cricket and play with pride. Beating them so convincingly cannot be any mean achievement. Bangladesh played attractive brand of cricket and were always potential and worthy winners. Please do not try to take away any credit from them. This series victory is the essential stepping stone for Bangladesh in the corridor of success. We must try and consolidate it with sound planning and professional implementation. We must not get complacent, must not get carried away. Success breeds success.
Cricket crazy nation got thoroughly embarrassed at the dismal performance of the team in T20. Losing to minnows Ireland demoralised the Tiger fans .Even Bangladesh National Assembly discussed about the poor performance. Players commitment, team chemistry, team management came under through scrutiny. Underperforming captain got the axe. Committed Mashrafee got the nod and young enterprising twinkling little star Saquib was made the deputy. Many thought it a bit early. But true talent cannot be kept confined with barriers . It overflows.
Bangladesh travelled to West Indies on a long tour to Caribbean and Zimbabwe on a mission to salvage pride. West Indies in recent time was resurging. But players were fuming against administration for a while over payment dispute. It erupted and all first team players staged boycott .The fate of the test series was hanging in a balance. But WISCB put up a reasonably strong team comprising of some test players, some young upcoming players. New challenge got created for Bangladesh. They became favourite undoubtedly. But it is never an easy challenge to win a test series in West Indies by a touring team. Morale of Bangladesh was kept high by one fighter of a person Mashrafee.
In the first test at St Vincent Bangladesh started disastrously. Top and middle order batting collapsed to the speed of blistering pace of Roach who would have made debut even if main team played. One Mashrafee who never say die made the team turn around and with another tail ender Rajeeb he struggled to give respectability to Bangladesh Innings.
Mashraffee unfortunately got injured while trying to bowl at his fastest to defend moderate Bangladesh total and had to leave the field with supports of his mates. But Mashrafee remained the inspiration and rekindled fight in his charge. Saquib took over. Sqauib and Riad bowled brilliantly to restrict West Indies within sizeable first innings lead. In the second Innings a boy from Chittagong Tamim Iqubal possibly played the innings of his life time. A blinder of an innings – his first test century and a solid 70 odd by a Rajshahi player Junaid laid the foundation of victory for Bangladesh. Young Mahmuddulah Riad and Saquib spun web around makeshift West Indian batsmen to win the frst ever test on foreign soil. Bangladesh started dreaming for the first ever series victory. In his debut test Riad demonstrated his class
Scan indicated no major damage to Skipper Mashraffee . But he was ruled out for second test. Young Saquib at 22 became the youngest ever Bangladeshi to lead the national team. How brilliantly he responded. Left Arm spinner Enamul Haq Junior strengthened spinning team. Three spinners –Saquib, Riad and Enamul combined to restrict WI to 237 in the first innings at Grenada test. All three got 3 wickets each to torment West Indians. Young Richards (69) and Dowlin (95 ) played defiant knocks. Rest were consumed pretty easily by talented Bangladeshi spinners. Saquib marshalled his resources very well.
Responding to not too large total Bangladesh could not make spirited response. Tamim (37), Roquibul (44), Mushfique (48) and Riad (28) made the start but could not absorb the blistering pace and bounce of Roach (46/6). Roach bowled with sustained aggression aiming the body of Bangladeshi batsmen. His bouncers were very effective. Fallibility of Bangladeshi batsmen against genuine pace and sustained hostility got exposed. Bangladesh conceded a 5 run lead to WI being bundled out for 232.
Bangladesh looked very hungry for success and determined from the very start of the second innings with leader taking the driver’s seat. Saquib consumed Richards very early. Phillips and Darwin put together a 50 runs partnership. But when Saquib, Riad and Enamul started spinning prodigiously West Indian batting started crumbling like cookies. Saquib picked and excellent haul of 5/70 and Enamul 3/48 to restrict WI to 209. Only Bernard played a defiant innings of 69.
History beckoned Bangladesh when they set sail to reached a destination of 215 to win first ever tests series abroad, a white of wash of a major cricketing nation in their backyard. A big historic occasion. Fisrt Innings it was Roach, this time Daren Sammy stepped up the tempo. He started bowling fast and furious. Tamim, Kayes and Juanid left within 49. Ashraful once again failed miserably for 3. At 4/67 in the early hours at Melbourne our heart started beating first. We were constantly online with friend Chory in Norway and Yazdani at Sydney. We were hoping against hope. Roquibul was looking solid. Inspiring Sqauib started counter attacking. From a corridor of uncertainty this pair started unfolding the ream pages of history one by one. Solid in defence, brilliant in stroke play Roquib –Saquib wrote their names in the history of Bangladesh cricket. Sammy and Roach tried everything in their repertoire .But nothing could dislodge this determined pair. When Roquib eventually got out to Sammy at 69 the foundation was well laid at 173 .Sqauib played several delightful classy stokes and despite loosing Mushfique played some memorable strokes to win the match with a massive over boundary. Bangladesh cricket team with Saquib entered history. The number one all rounder of the world deservedly won the man of the match with his match haul of 8 wickets and unbeaten match winning 96. A leader born to world cricket. Captain courageous.
Bangladesh has won only 3 of 69 tests it played in 9 years since attaining test status in 2000.It went pretty close to beating Pakistan in Faisalabad and Australia in Fatullah. But this back to back test victory means great. It will give fillip to Bangladesh efforts to attain consistency. Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina Wazed and Leader of Opposition Begum Khaleda Zia usually do not have many occasions to share joy .But Mashrafee – Saquib and their charge presented such occasion.
Let us not get carried away, let us not get complacent. Let us create more enabling cricket infrastructure at home .Let us improve and upgrade our domestic cricket format to a level to produce greater no of talented young cricketers to make our winning habit.
Thanks tigers to make Bangladesh proud again. Let this success create national unity; let this success give us fillip to fight other pressing national issues.
Kh A Saleque (Saleque Sufi) is one of our guest writers, He is an Engineer by profession and lives in Australia.