Following a sleepless night 17 years ago, a 13-year old kid was every bit excited in the morning while heading towards the Bangabandhu National Stadium, back then the sporting centre-stage of Bangladesh.
It was the morning of November 10, a historic day as Bangladesh braced themselves for their inaugural Test match, against India. And the eager 13-year old was none other than this correspondent, who was selected as one of the ball boys for the Test.
This writer could barely believe his luck after getting to know that he would have the golden chance of watching the likes of Aminul Islam Bulbul, Akram Khan, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, among others.
The main reason behind this correspondent's selection as a ball boy for the Tigers' maiden Test was perhaps because he had represented Bangladesh U-13 cricket team and toured Siliguri, India where Mohammad Ashraful was the vice-captain of the side.
Going back to that day, this writer can still remember the bright sunny morning. Bangladesh had a great opening day as Aminul remained unbeaten on 70 runs as the home side made 239/6 at stumps.
A day later, this correspondent not only threw the ball back to the legendary Rahul Dravid, that was struck for a boundary through the deep cover region, but also witnessed the magnificent hundred from Aminul. The Tigers eventually posted 400 runs in their first innings and the atmosphere was absolutely electrifying as the home crowd started dreaming of a win.
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Aminul Islam celebrates reaching his century COURTESY
However, Bangladesh paid heavy price after losing their focus in the longest format of the game. The experienced Indians came back hard and snatched a rather facile nine-wicket win.
Although Bangladesh lost the Test, the memories remained as this writer got the opportunity to watch some of his idols in flesh.
As time went on, he dreamt of playing for Bangladesh one day, having represented all the age-level sides. Some of his team mates included Shakib al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and a few others.
Even though this correspondent was unable to make it to the Bangladesh team due to various reasons, his friends went on to represent the national side before firmly establishing their places.
Interestingly, this writer did not lose touch with some of his team mates, whom he gladly called friends. And after changing profession from a cricketer to a sports journalist, he has still kept in close touch with them.
During this period, he followed the Tigers in all the formats, especially Test cricket.
And this journalist must admit that Bangladesh have come a long way since their inaugural Test. It was never a smooth journey and credit should be given to the cricketers.
However, concerns still remain as the Tigers are yet to establish themselves in Tests, chiefly owing to lack of temperament.
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Mushfiqur Rahim and Rangana Herath are all smiles during the Tigers' 100th Test AFP
Even though Bangladesh are the quickest to 100 Tests in world cricket, their first five-day win came in their 35th match where the Tigers beat Zimbabwe by 226 runs in Chittagong.
In the first 25 Tests, Bangladesh lost 24 and drew one. From the 26th to the 50th Test, they lost 20 and draw four. From the 51st to the 75th Test, they were defeated 21 times but they did win two and drew as many. From the 76th to the 99th Test, Bangladesh showed significant improvement, winning five, losing 11 and drawing eight.
This correspondent closely followed all the tenures of the Bangladesh Test captains, Naimur Rahman (seven Tests, 2000-2001), Khaled Mashud (12 Tests, 2001-2004), Khaled Mahmud (nine Tests, 2003), Habibul Bashar (18 Tests, 2004-2007), Ashraful (13 Tests, 2007-2009), Mashrafe bin Mortaza (one Test, 2009), Shakib (nine Tests, 2009-2011), Tamim (one Test, 2017) and Mushfiq (30 Tests, 2011-present), and had the opportunity to witness the historic win against England at home last year from the comfort of the press box.
Bangladesh are currently playing their 100th Test, against Sri Lanka, at P Sara Oval in Colombo. When this report was filed, the Tigers were in with a fighting chance of winning the game. Whatever happens from now to the end of the match, we can certainly hope for more historic achievements along the way, right till the next milestone – the 200th Test.