Displaying sheer Test-match aptitude, Bangladesh batted out the fifth day for a glorious draw against Sri Lanka in the second Test at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium yesterday. The pocket-sized dynamo, Mominul Haque, was the hero of the day with an unbeaten, match-saving hundred but it was a combination of the right approach and application on a testing fifth day from all of the top order batsmen that forced the frustrated Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews to accept the draw soon after completion of the little man's feat with less than an hour of the scheduled play remaining.
The batting of the top five batsmen -- that helped the team end on 271 for 3 before a draw was declared -- on a pitch on which the Lankan bowlers tried to exploit the rough patches on offer but in vain, was the perfect example of what a team can achieve if there was steadfast concentration on the job at hand.
Resuming the day on 12 for no loss with hope and doubt jostling for primacy, Tamim Iqbal and Shamsur Rahman set the tone and motto of clinging to the crease without being bogged down by passing the crucial first hour without any damage. Then Mominul and Shakib Al Hasan perfectly followed the mantra, other than a small period of nervousness, to take the team to safety. Imrul Kayes also displayed enough fortitude, enhancing the team message that they were in it for the long haul, although he made only 25.
With the second consecutive draw at the same venue against higher-ranked opponents as well as only the second draw against the dominant Lankans after the stalemate achieved in Galle last year, the Tigers once again established their steady progress in the longer version.
Although they lost the series 1-0, Mushfiqur Rahim's men the kudos for the way they bounced back from their sub-par performance in the first Test at Mirpur (which they lost by an innings and 248 runs) and strengthened their oft-repeated claim that they will only improve in the format if they get more chances to play.
It was the Tigers' eleventh draw in 83 attempts but only the sixth achieved without any help from the elements like bad light or rain. Yesterday's draw was slightly more special because the Tigers had to bat out the entire fifth day without any hopes of a win -- or for that matter the safety of a mid-day second innings lead -- against a strong subcontinent side like Sri Lanka who are well-versed in these conditions. The fifth day challenge was the same in the drawn match in 2005 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium which the team achieved through a brilliant hundred from Nafis Iqbal, but the opponents were Zimbabwe.
The Tigers exorcised the ghost of failure after their poor display in Mirpur to dampen the joy of man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series Kumar Sangakkara's record run-spree.
An encouraging sign was that two Bangladesh openers concentrated on survival, evidenced by the way they sensibly passed the first hour even as the going became tough. Tamim however finally fell victim of impatience by playing a forceful drive against part-time bowler Vithanage, with the resultant inside edge cannoning into his stumps. Shamsur's leaky technique meanwhile allowed spinner Perera to burst through between bat and pad and onto the stumps.
On the back of a lack of runs and confidence, Mominul then came to the scene to showcase true Test batsmanship in his attempt to shut out Sri Lanka. The afternoon session became a vital phase following the two dismissals before Lunch and Mominul, first with Imrul and then Shakib, managed it greatly.
Benefiting from a life when on four, the 22-year old left-hander showed excellent balance in his batting to continue providing hopes of a new era in Bangladesh's top-order.