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Tiger Cubs No More

Bangladesh are currently experiencing a run of match winning performances against the dominant full-member Test playing nations. RealSport take a trip down memory lane to reflect on some of Bangladesh’s best ever victories in international cricket.

There was once a time when Bangladesh were seen as the infants of international cricket, and losing to them was considered the ultimate embarrassment. Like a toddler who was still wearing nappies and frequently needing to be potty trained, the Bangladesh cricket team would lose game after game, struggling to walk on their own two feet, with many wondering if they would ever be good enough to compete with the big boys of international cricket. Sweeping the bottom of the Test and ODI rankings on a regular basis, it became a customary sight to see the Bangladesh cricket team languishing there limply, with no sign of improvement any time soon.

Despite many still viewing them as a below average side, Bangladesh have since committed to a slow and steady development in their bid to prove that they can compete with the top teams. They have had to work especially hard at rectifying their reputation as consistent losers, and thanks to their outstanding performances of late, Bangladesh finally earned the respect and status that they so richly deserved. Gone were the days of Habibul Bashar, Khaled Mashud and an underachieving Mohammad Ashraful, players who possessed so much talent and potential yet frequently delivered so little. Change was needed, and the likes of Tamin Iqbal, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mushfiqur Rahim and the ever popular Shakib al-Hasan breathed new life into an otherwise bleak future for Bangladesh cricket. In light of their first ever Test match victory against Sri Lanka we decided to look back on the journey of this perseverant cricket team, and revisit some of their most famous upset wins against established international sides.

Sri Lanka vs Bangladesh, 2nd Test Match, Colombo (PSS), March 15-19 2017
Bangladesh won by 4 wickets

Prior to this famous win, every Test series between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had been a horribly one-sided affair. So routine was Sri Lanka’s hiding of their opponents that many wondered why these two nations competed against each other so often. Not this time though. Unfazed by Sri Lanka’s first innings score of 338, Shakib al-Hasan compiled a fantastic 116, providing Bangladesh with an advantageous 129 run lead, something that was unheard of in previous clashes with the island nation. The all-rounder did not stop there. Despite a swashbuckling hundred from local boy Dimuth Karunaratne, Shakib managed to prise out four Sri Lankan wickets with his wily left-arm spin, derailing the home team’s chances of extending their second innings lead. A final run-chase of just 191 proved to be a mere formality, as Bangladesh secured an historic victory.

England vs Bangladesh, 2nd Test Match, Mirpur, October 28-30 2016
Bangladesh won by 108 runs

When a turning wicket in Chittagong failed to nullify England’s belligerent march to victory in the first Test, the home team knew they had to lay all cards on the table to turn it around quickly. In a low-scoring affair which lasted only three days, Bangladesh played out of their skins to topple a shell-shocked England team. Teenage off-spinner Mehedi Hasan proved to be the hero, securing incredible figures of 6 for 77 in the fourth innings as England failed to hunt down 273 required for victory. The win prompted wild celebrations all over the nation, as it was a clear message to the cricket world that Bangladesh had finally arrived. England captain Alastair Cook later confessed that “We [England] showed our inexperience in these conditions” before congratulating Bangladesh on their astonishing win.

Australia vs Bangladesh, 2nd ODI Match, Cardiff, June 18 2005
Bangladesh won by 5 wickets

Five years after their inauguration as the newest full-member Test-playing nation, Bangladesh were still hugely inexperienced on the international arena and had yet to properly establish themselves amongst the better teams. Many still saw them as the little baby compared to the more dominant international sides So when Australia, the most powerful team of the 2000s, suffered an embarrassing loss to them in an ODI in Cardiff, it proved to be a massive shock to the system. Nineteen-year-old Mohammad Ashraful was the chief destroyer, his 101-ball hundred allowing the Tigers to reach their target with just four balls to spare. Wisden later reported that ‘this match looked like David and Goliath in more ways than one’ exemplifying just how remarkable this victory was for a team still in its cricketing infancy.

India vs Bangladesh, 2nd ODI Match, Dhaka, December 26 2004
Bangladesh won by 15 runs

A depleted Indian side missing the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Harbhajan and Pathan should have had no problem defeating a fresh-faced Bangladesh. Yet one cannot factor the spirit and courage in which the Tigers played, as they fought, scrapped and persevered for each run and wicket, allowing them to secure what was then only their third victory against a Test-playing nation. At 88 for 5, with captain Habibul Bashar and Mohammad Ashraful back in the shed, a Bangladeshi triumph seemed unlikely. However Aftab Ahmed switched gears and compiled a gritty 67 to take the home side to a competitive 229. A nail-biting finish saw India just miss the mark by 15 runs, providing a 40,000-strong home crowd an unforgettable victory for the ages.

West Indies vs Bangladesh, 1st Test Match, St. Vincent, July 9-13 2009
Bangladesh won by 95 runs

Disastrous though the West Indies may be, no one could fathom that they would lose on their home turf to a side that until then had only ever beaten Zimbabwe in Test cricket. Bangladesh started in ordinary fashion, a first innings total of just 238 with wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim top scoring with 36 not enough to create a solid foundation. With the West Indies soon leading by 69, thanks to Omar Phillip’s authoritative knock of 94, Bangladesh needed something special to arrest the momentum their way. Enter Tamin Iqbal. His beautifully compiled 128 gave his team a chance of a big win as the West Indies were set 277 to chase in the fourth innings. Shakib and Mahmudullah soon spun a web around their opponents who were dismissed for just 181, prompting raucous celebrations in St. Vincent.

Bangladesh vs Pakistan, ICC World Cup, 29th Match (Group B), Northampton May 31 1999
Bangladesh won by 62 runs

In the days before being granted Test match status, Bangladesh were quite literally the epitome of a foetus in international experience when they qualified for the 1999 World Cup. Alongside Kenya and Scotland, they were still an Associate member nation back then when they began their World Cup campaign. They didn’t play like one though. Against a star-studded Pakistan team Bangladesh put up a stellar performance, scoring a modest 223 despite the great Saqlain Mshtaq snaring a 5-wicket haul. The tigers backed up their batting performance with an even more impressive display of bowling, routing the 1992 World Cup winners for just 161. Despite such an embarrassing performance, Pakistan lauded Bangladesh’s efforts, with Wasim Akram proclaiming “I’m happy we lost to our brothers” in the post-match interview.

Bangladesh vs South Africa, ICC World Cup, 34th March (Super Eights), Guyana April 7 2007
Bangladesh won by 67 runs

Bangladesh’s uncanny habit of felling the giants in global tournaments continued well into the 2007 World Cup. After qualifying for the Super Eights, many assumed the Tigers would be out of their depth now that they were alongside the goliaths in a major world cricket tournament. Mohammad Ashraful didn’t think so. Against a Proteas bowling attack boasting the likes of Kallis, Pollock, Ntini and the fiery Andre Nel, the youngster clubbed an aggressive 87 off just 83 balls, with Tamin Iqbal and Mashrafe Mortaza providing ample support with equally expressive stroke play. A final total of 251 was challenging but gettable for the number one ranked South African side filled with superstars, but it wasn’t to be. Miserly bowling from Abdur Razzak and Mohammad Rafique slowed the South African run-rate to under four an over, before the former delivered the final blow, as a leading edge from Makhaya Ntini ballooned a simple catch to Mortaza at cover. A fairytale win ensured that the party continued well into the Caribbean night.


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