The first day of the second Test against the West Indies at Khulna's Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium, the country's newest Test venue, saw a once-in-a-lifetime performance from the country's newest Test cricketer Abul Hasan.
Picked as a replacement for struggling fast bowler Shahadat Hossain, Hasan sprung a wonderful surprise by rescuing the team from the perils of 193 for eight by scoring only the second century by a debutant number 10 in Test history, and the first in 110 years. On the surface, these are happy stats but upon closer inspection, they mask a batting failure.
While the Tigers closed the first day on the relatively strong position of 365 for eight with Mahmudullah Riyad (72 off 89) and Hasan (100 off 108) at the crease in an unbeaten 172-run ninth-wicket stand, the figures that should really be at the forefront are 193 for eight.
It was a placid pitch similar to the one on which the first Test run-fest was staged in Dhaka. Yet some batsmen seemed to conspire to get out. The middle-order was especially culpable. Naeem Islam, Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain all got out at crucial junctures to shots they could well have avoided.
Naeem and Shakib went in successive Fidel Edwards overs after lunch, playing at balls they could have left alone, the stuff batting collapses and defeats are made of. Then after a modest 87-run sixth-wicket partnership with skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, Nasir decided to celebrate his fifty -- which he brought up off 63 balls -- by dancing down the wicket to Veerasammy Permaul and mis-hitting to mid on. Nasir had played the innings at a frantic pace and fell to a risk too many, at a time when the team was nowhere near safe.
Abul Hasan then played a blinder to save the Tigers' blushes on a pitch where 193 for eight is inexcusable. While it was a memorable achievement, it can only be expected that the next time he tries to hit one of the 13 fours or three sixes he smote yesterday, he might not be at the wicket for the next delivery. He is, after all, a lower-order batsman.
In fact, the only specialist batsman to emerge with any credit from the first day is Mahmudullah, who dealt with the crisis of the situation with the cool head that he has become associated with, and guided the young Hasan to what was a momentous achievement.
It is a happy occasion that a Bangladesh player achieved such groundbreaking success, but if it serves to mask the frailties of his teammates, in the long term it could be seen as a bane rather than a boon.