A historic day in the world of cricket saw Bangladesh claim their maiden test win over England. Having only previously beaten minnows Zimbabwe and a severely weakened West Indian side, this was their first victory against a team of high calibre and prompted widespread celebrations across the country. Bangladesh had come out second best in 72 of their previous 95 test matches and were thus unaccustomed to such success. Their triumph however, having been marked as firm underdogs before the two match series, did not take all by surprise. The Bangladeshi’s performance in the first test at Chittagong, losing by just 22 runs, offered signs that this team might just be closing the gap with the top tier sides at the international level. 6 days later this was confirmed.
England, however, come away from Bangladesh unsatisfied and embarrassed. Their weak performance, primarily with the bat, has already led to questions concerning the preparation undertaken to compete against the dry, spinning wickets found in the sub-continent. Severe doubts have also arisen as to the side’s chances in their upcoming series against India, currently the number one ranked test side. Historically England have struggled against spin when away from home however it seemed to be particularly problematic this time around. To make matters worse, issues off the field such as the daunting, albeit necessary, presence of armed bodyguards arguably affected the team’s on-field performance. Nonetheless, whatever the reason, England will certainly have to improve to stand any chance of beating India in a week’s time.
Invigorated by their narrow defeat in Chittagong and sensing an upset, Bangladesh started the second test in Dhaka strongly, putting on 171 with the loss of just one wicket; Tamim Iqbal (104) and Mominul (66) leading the charge. However, as we have so often seen in recent years, Bangladesh were unable to sustain this pressure. The next 9 wickets, through poor shot play and tight bowling, fell for a meagre 49 runs, a shocking collapse even by Bangladeshi standards. Despite this, England failed to capitalise on their advantage. Losing wickets at frequent intervals, they stumbled to 244 all out with only Root (56), Woakes (46) and Rashid (44*) offering any resistance. England’s weakness against spin was ruthlessly exposed by 19 year old off spinner, Mehedi Hasan, who, playing in just his second test, took a phenomenal 6-82. Encouraged by their bowling performance and just 24 runs behind, Bangladesh sought to push the game beyond England in their second innings. Yet another strong start from Tamim (40) and opening partner Kayes (78) saw their side firmly take the ascendency. Further contributions from Mahmudullah (47) and Shakib (41) allowed Bangladesh to finish on 296 all out, leaving England a difficult 273 to win. A convincing beginning from openers Cook (59) and Duckett (56) helped England to 100 without loss at tea on the third day. However, seemingly on the way to achieving their highest successful run chase in Asia, England proceeded to self-destruct. Duckett fell the first ball after tea, triggering the collapse which was to condemn them to their first ever defeat against Bangladesh. Middle and lower order failings left England 164 all out, 108 runs short, and pondering what had happened. This match will live long in the memory of both sets of supporters.
Featured Image: AFP