A fitting end | The Daily Star
12:05 AM, March 21, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 05:06 AM, March 21, 2017

A fitting end

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It was hard not to be left wanting more as Bangladesh's Test season drew to a close in the best possible fashion – a four-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the country's hundredth Test match at the P Sara Oval in Colombo on Sunday. While there has been much talk about Bangladesh's glut of Tests this season, when taking a wider view seven Tests starting with the two-Test series against England in October 2016 and ending with the two Test series in Sri Lanka can hardly be called a glut, especially as the national team endured a 15-month gap between Tests before October 2016.

But more than a thirst for the longer form, it was Bangladesh's performance in their 100th Test that makes one think that a few more Tests in this vein would have been instructive. All the four away Tests before Sunday's historic triumph in Colombo had one common feature -- Bangladesh competing for large parts of Test matches in New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka before the fifth day would see the players washing it all down the drain. That could so easily have been the case in Colombo when Sri Lanka's overnight lead of 139 with two wickets in hand had inflated into a 191-run target with the world's best fourth-innings bowler, Rangana Herath, at the head of the hunting pack.

But Bangladesh overcame their fifth-day hoodoo despite losing six wickets, two of those in the evening session which started with them needing 35. Adjudged the player of the match for his 82 in the fourth innings, Tamim Iqbal said after the match that the players had come up with a game-changer, a closed door meeting before the match with just the players attending. They came up with a lot of plans and their performance with ball and bat seemed to support that assertion as all 11 players seemed to have bought into the ideas they were implementing.

Tamim said that this new arrangement, the players having a closed door meeting before each Test, will be in effect from now on. With all that was swirling around the team before the match -- senior batsman Mahmudullah Riyad's exclusion from the historic Test and the ensuing controversies – it would have been interesting to see what this new arrangement, only one Test old, will hold for a team well into the groove of playing Tests. It would also have given us a good idea of the team, depending on how long it would continue being a boon.

All is not hunky dory as the team takes a break from Tests at least until the late summer. While Mosaddek Hossain's onset is a plus for the team, Riyad and Mominul Haque's exclusions will continue to leave holes in the batting order, at least one of which has not yet been filled. Liton Das kept brilliantly in Galle, but his injury before the Colombo Test has brought Mushfiqur Rahim back to number six in the order when his class demands a position higher up the order.

Soumya Sarkar is yet to show gumption in tough situations, and the opener's rash shot on the fifth day was the only black spot in Bangladesh's chase of 191.

However, at the end of the season, the core of the team -- Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur and Tamim – seem as strong as ever performance-wise and with the advent of Mustafizur Rahman and Mosaddek Hossain Bangladesh Test cricket seems in fair health. Above all, it is a team that wants to win and that was evident in the fact that they did not really celebrate their historic win. They rejoiced privately in their hotel rooms, because the job is not yet done. As Mushfiqur said after the win, their target now is to win the ODI series starting in Dambulla on March 25. 

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