It was clearly evident at home as Bangladesh won three bilateral ODI series' in a row, against powerhouses Pakistan, India and South Africa.
At the same time however, there were questions lingering over the Tigers' performance in Test match cricket. Bangladesh took care of that criticism too as they slowly but steadily began to showcase improvements in the longer version of the game.
It all started to change when Bangladesh scripted a brilliant comeback against Pakistan in the first of the two-match Test series in Khulna where Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes put on a record 312-run opening wicket stand in the second innings to deny the opposition.
The belief began to gather under the guidance of the visionary head coach Chandika Hathurusingha, who seems to know what he is doing, that too with a great amount of confidence.
As a result, Bangladesh started to believe that they can win Tests as well. And at home against the formidable England, who are much higher than the Tigers in the Test ranking, Bangladesh created history.
The home side lost the first of two Tests in Chittagong but came agonisingly close to victory. The Tigers then made a brilliant comeback in the second and final Test, clinching a memorable win to square the series 1-1.
However, it remained to be seen if the Tigers are good enough in Tests away from home in difficult conditions. Many thought the Tigers would continue to struggle abroad, despite their recent run of success.
First up for the Tigers after the England Tests was the tour of New Zealand. The visiting side were greeted with fast bouncers in deadly swinging conditions as the Kiwis forced the Tigers onto the backfoot.
Bangladesh went on to lose both the ODI and T20I series' despite some valiant performances. But the way the Tigers fought in both the Tests was remarkable, in spite of New Zealand running away with the series 2-0.
[caption id="attachment_55799" align="aligncenter" width="646"]
Prolific Bangladesh batting duo Shakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim INTERNET
All-rounder Shakib al Hasan and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim’s record 359-run partnership was a major highlight. However, despite posting a mammoth 595 runs for eight wickets declared in the first innings, Bangladesh eventually lost the Test, breaking a 122-year old record. No other side lost a Test after scoring such a huge first-innings total.
But apart from the defeat, the fighting instinct shown by the visitors, including Mushfiq receiving a blow to his helmet before being taken off the filed by an ambulance to the hospital, was all part of the learning process. A brave Mushfiq later returned to the field, earning a lot of praise along the way.
In 2017, Bangladesh also played their first ever Test in India. It was the perfect time for the Tigers to challenge their mental and technical skills against the world's No 1 ranked team.
As expected, the visiting side faced some testing times against Virat Kohli’s furious Team India. But still, the Tigers tried to counter-attack the opposition where Mushfiq’s responsible century in the first innings helped Bangladesh to take the Test right till the fifth and final day.
Bangladesh were able to scent victory and tried to learn from their small mistakes, which at times made them suffer heavily. And the tour of Sri Lanka was perhaps the perfect time to correct their mistakes and finally look for wins abroad, in both Tests and ODIs.
However, it was never going to be a smooth ride for the visiting side as the Lankans have a great recent track record at their den. And in the first Test, it proved to be true as Bangladesh suffered a comprehensive 259-run defeat.
Then came the landmark 100th Test for the Tigers in the second and final match of the series at P Sara Oval in Colombo. Bangladesh did exactly what they were capable of and adapted to the five-day game perfectly, controlling the majority of the sessions.
[caption id="attachment_54520" align="aligncenter" width="900"]
Tamim Iqbal raises his bat after reaching his eighth ODI hundred AFP
The likes of Shakib and Tamim, the senior members of the side, took up the responsibility and led from the front. And, the result was evident as the Tigers became the fourth team in history to win in their 100th Test.
The job was not yet done however. The focus immediately shifted from Tests to ODIs. The Tigers have already created a reputation of being a dangerous unit in the limited-over formats. Their tails were up as the cricketers were beaming with confidence after the Test series. They won the first ODI against the home side comfortably by 90 runs. Tamim once again stood firm and smashed his eighth century.
The second match was then washed out due to rain. Bangladesh though are in no mood to share the ODI series and will definitely eye winning it 2-0.
Even if the Tigers don’t win the third ODI, that will be followed by the two-match T20I series, the tour of Sri Lanka will remain their most successful visit in recent times. And without a doubt, the cricket pundits will now rate Bangladesh as the new big thing in world cricket.