A win for the ages
It still seems unreal.
Bangladesh beat New Zealand by eight wickets at Mount Manganui, earning their first Test win against the Black Caps and a first win across the formats on NZ soil after 32 unsuccessful attempts.
While the cricketing world hailed the victory as one of the biggest upsets in Test cricket history, for Bangladesh it was a rare demonstration of their sheer willpower and ability over the course of five gruelling days that scripted a poem of a success.
It was a victory for the ages amidst the bitter backdrop of a chaotic board that has repeatedly failed to provide fast bowlers with a platform to hone their skills and a poor run of form since the T20 World Cup.
The Tigers were dismissed as no-hopers when they set off for the assignment after a demoralising home series defeat against Pakistan that included a capitulation on the fifth day of the rain-hit second Test.
The two-Test series against Bangladesh was widely considered a stroll in the park for the Black Caps, with their lofty reputation as an almost invincible team at home and their crowning achievement as World Test champions.
But after an extended quarantine period due to the strict Covid-19 protocols in New Zealand, the Tigers emerged with something extraordinary, something the vaunted home side were unprepared for.
If Test matches are more about how many sessions you have won, the Tigers claimed at least 10 out of 13 played. If it's about putting a price tag on your wicket and bowling as a unit, they did that with great authority and assurance.
Pace bowler Ebadot Hossain was certainly the star performer with his six-wicket burst in New Zealand's second innings, which saw the hosts fold for 169 to set Bangladesh a 40-run target for a famous victory.
But there were 12 heroes in the Tigers' historic win, including 12th man Taijul Islam, who took a stunning catch at mid-wicket to end New Zealand's second essay on the fifth morning.
Young openers Mahmudul Hasan Joy (78) and Shadman Islam (22) set the tone for an impressive Bangladesh first-innings total of 458, which was built around the flair of Nazmul Hossain Shanto (64), the grit of Mominul Haque (88) and the class of Liton Das (86).
Mushfiqur Rahim might have missed out in terms of runs, but the experienced batsman performed the crucial task of taking the shine off the second new ball with a 53-ball 12.
A crucial 75-run seventh-wicket stand between Mehedi Hasan Miraz (47) and Yasir Ali (26) not only averted a typical late-order collapse but also gave Bangladesh a healthy 130-run first-innings lead.
The young side, without experienced opener Tamim Iqbal and champion all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, hardly put a foot wrong throughout five captivating days.
The pace trio of Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam and Ebadot combined for 13 wickets, outperforming four of the best seamers in the world in such conditions in Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Kyle Jamieson.
It was all the more remarkable that they did so despite facing all the limitations when it comes to facilities, seam-friendly pitches at home and enough exposure.
Left-armer Shoriful hogged the limelight with three wickets in the first innings. Taskin toiled hard without success in the first innings but reaped rewards in the second, claiming three wickets.
Ebadot, with his raw pace, was not impressive in the first innings but found his rhythm in the second to irrevocably turn the game Bangladesh's way.
The Black Caps were the second-best team, barring the second session of the opening day. The fifth morning was crucial for both teams. But the home side lost the final plot against a disciplined and hungry pace attack.
They lost their last five wickets for 33 runs -- the kind of collapse often associated with Bangladesh.
The Tigers' fans were glued to TV sets early Wednesday morning with the apprehension of a Black Caps rearguard stand and the all-too-familiar Bangladesh second-innings implosion that deprived them of a draw at Wellington in 2017 and resulted in a defeat in Chattogram in 2008.
But this new brand of Tigers dispelled all fears with the same composure they had displayed throughout the match.