And Bangladesh's much needed Test win perhaps came at just about the right time ahead of some busy away tours.
The Tigers played according to their merit in their 100th Test, dominated the opposition for the majority of sessions and held their nerve to clinch their ninth Test match win in history. It turned out to be a double delight for Team Bangladesh as it is anything but easy to beat the Lankans at their own den.
It was no surprise to see the players singing “Amra korbo joy” in their dressing room after the historic win. It happens to be their official victory song. It was really a great feeling to hear that victory song on foreign soil. Tigers’ pace bowling coach Courtney Walsh said he wanted to hear Bangladesh’s victory song on the eve of the 100th Test. It is pretty sure that, after the win, Walsh and the rest of the coaching staff will feel extremely happy over how Bangladesh performed in this Test.
Things did not go all smooth for the Tigers in Colombo. However, Bangladesh overcame the hurdles before achieving victory against all odds. Before the series started, many predicted straightforward wins for Bangladesh as this Lankan outfit are the weakest in recent times.
But it should be reminded that this same team whitewashed Australia 3-0 just a few months back. So there was no chance of taking them lightly. And Sri Lanka proved it in the Galle Test. The Tigers were punished for their costly errors as they succumbed to a 259-run defeat.
Ahead of the Colombo Test, experienced batsman Mahmudullah was dropped. He was supposed to return home in the middle of the Test series. But later, the decision was overturned as he was selected for the ODI squad.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Liton Kumar Das got injured just a day before the Colombo Test. So Bangladesh had to change as many as four players from their Galle XI. Ahead of such an important clash, Bangladesh could have done without the chaos. The setback in the first Test could have done one of two things – break down the Tigers mentally or inspire them to regroup. Undoubtedly, the latter happened. Bangladesh players rose to the occasion and their steely determination paid off.
It was a challenging total for Bangladesh when they came out to bat during day five. But the Tamim Iqbal-Sabbir Rahman partnership made things relatively easier in their chase of 191 runs.
However, things got interesting after Tamim was dismissed. Sri Lanka got a couple of wickets and created pressure. Around 10,000 local fans were cheering for their team. Traditional Sri Lankan music was playing in the background and the spectators took much delight in dancing around the galleries. These memories will linger in the back of the mind of this correspondent for a long time to come.
The last four months had been a challenge for Bangladesh. They created one opportunity after another but failed to apply the finishing touch. Following a brave fight initially in the Wellington Test, they fought well against India in their one-off Test. They had the chance to draw the match but failed again in their pursuit. Even against Sri Lanka in Galle, Bangladesh had some opportunities to draw the match by batting three sessions on a good batting track. But again, the batsmen were unable to put up any resistance.
The finishing touch was missing for Bangladesh in the last few months in Tests. The 100th Test brought with it immense pressure along with high levels of expectations, injuries, selection issues, etc.
But the way Bangladesh tackled these challenges was absolutely magnificent to watch. Having won in Colombo, the Tigers now will be better equipped if another close battle emerges in the longer version.