Bangladesh have completed 16 years in Test cricket. The Tigers' five-day adventure began on November 10, 2000 when they played their inaugural Test match against India in Dhaka’s Bangabandhu National Stadium.
Since then, Bangladesh have contested 95 Tests, winning only eight and drawing 15. Two out of the eight wins came against a second-string West Indies side in 2009, while five of the rest were against Zimbabwe.
Those statistics put the win against England in Dhaka last month into context - perhaps Bangladesh’s biggest achievement in their Test history so far.
Victories in defeat
A couple of other memorable Tests come to mind on the occasion of the Tigers' 16th anniversary in five-day cricket. Chief among them is the Multan Test against Pakistan in 2003, while the other one is against Australia in Fatullah 10 years ago.
The Tigers fans can also count the first Test against England in Chittagong as a near miss, as Bangladesh lost narrowly by a margin of 22 runs chasing a 286-run target on a difficult fourth-innings pitch against the formidable visiting side.
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A disconsolate Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud after their infamous Multan Test against Pakistan in 2003 COURTESY
However, the Multan and Fatullah Tests feature at the very top of the list of regrets for the Bangladesh supporters.
In Multan, Bangladesh set the home side a challenging 261-run target. At one stage, Pakistan were reeling on 164 for 7 and Bangladesh were scenting a famous victory. But Pakistan great Inzamam-ul-Haq played a superb match-winning unbeaten 138 to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
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Australian unbeaten eighth wicket duo Ricky Ponting and Jason Gillespie walk out of the field following their exciting three-wicket win over Bangladesh in Fatullah in 2006 COURTESY
In Fatullah in 2006, Bangladesh took on the all-conquering Australian side. The hosts were on top right from the very beginning, riding on opening batsman Shahriar Nafees’ brilliant knock of 138. Bangladesh posted 427 in their first innings and then bundled out the Aussies for 269 despite wicketkeepr batsman Adam Gilchrist scoring 144.
The Tigers were then skittled for 148 but still set their opponents a challenging 307-run target. Were it not for an unbeaten 118 from one of the game's all-time greats, Ricky Ponting, the home side could well have recorded a historical win of gigantic proportions.
However, alongside these near misses, there have also been some world-class individual performances from the Tigers. Mohammad Ashraful is a case in point. He holds the record of being the youngest centurion in the history of Test cricket at 17 years and 61 days when he notched 114 on his debut against Sri Lanka in 2001.
Sohag Gazi holds the record of scoring a hundred and taking a hat-trick in the same Test, against New Zealand in 2012.
In the same year, all-rounder Abul Hasan Raju scored a Test century against the West Indies coming in at No.10.
In 2014 against Zimbabwe, Shakib al Hasan scored a century and took 10 wickets in the same Test match. Only three players in history - Alan Davidson in 1960, Ian Botham in 1980 and Imran Khan in 1983 – had achieved this brilliant feat.
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Shakib al Hasan scored a century and took 10 wickets in the same Test match against Zimbabwe in 2014 AFP
But unfortunately, individual brilliance is rarely enough to win a five-day Test match and that is why Bangladesh have not won many compared to the limited-over formats.
In the recent past, Bangladesh’s ODI record has improved significantly. They have established themselves as a competitive ODI unit in the last few years. They reached the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup in Australia after eliminating a strong England side. They have won six consecutive ODI home series against powerhouses like Pakistan, India and South Africa, among others.
Platform for long format success
In the last two years though, the Tigers have started to improve in the longer version as well, albeit mainly on home soil. But the critics believe that if Bangladesh want to establish their name in world cricket then they have to start winning Test matches on a regular basis.
Probably one reason why Bangladesh are below-par in Tests is because they don't play as much five-day cricket as the established sides. The Tigers recently returned to Test cricket after a 14-month gap whereas England, in the same duration, played 16 matches. So if Bangladesh want to improve, then there are no alternatives to playing more matches regularly.
However, this is the right time for the Tigers to prove their mettle as they have quite a few Test matches on the horizon.
Bangladesh have a stylish opener in Tamim Iqbal, who is the highest Test run-scorer for the country with 3,349 runs including eight Test centuries. Dependable batsmen like Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah are now solid names in the middle order while they also have Shakib, who is often considered the best all-rounder in the world.
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Bangladesh youngster Miraz (CR) is one for the future after his 19-wicket haul against England last month DHAKA TRIBUNE
The bowling department has the young pace sensation Mustafizur Rahman and the off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz, who took 19 wickets against England recently, surprising the cricket world with his heroics at such a young age. Some other young and exciting talents like Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar and Rubel Hossain have emerged in the last few seasons.
So it is high time for the Tigers to lift their game and leave a mark in the longest format of the game, much like the limited-overs.
Against Match Win Lose Draw
4 0 4 0
10 1 9 0
11 0 8 3
10 0 9 1
8 0 6 2
10 0 8 2
16 0 14 2
12 2 8 2
14 5 6 3
First Test win:
against Zimbabwe in Chittagong, 2005
Tamim Iqbal - 3,349 runs with 40.34 average
Highest individual score:
206 - Tamim against Pakistan in May 2015
Highest number of centuries:
Highest number of half-centuries:
Habibul Bashar, 24
Shakib al Hasan, 159
Highest five-wicket hauls:
Mushfiqur Rahim, 92
Highest Test caps:
Mohammad Ashraful, 61