The Bangladeshi Test Fable

Perhaps the most disturbing statistic from the first Test match between England and Bangladesh – which England eventually won by the narrow margin of 22 runs in Chittagong – is that this victory was the first by a non-Asian team in Asia in 18 Test matches. It was 2014 the last time this happened, when New Zealand defeated Pakistan in Sharjah. This only goes to show the kind of era Test cricket lives in now – where away wins are rarer than ever, thanks to the extreme interpretations of pitches, conditions and the throbbing influence of impatient T20 cricket. The era of South Africa, a team that won more away than at home, is over too – after it lost 3-0 to India, and the trend doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. New Zealand just lost 3-0 to India, and England, the last and only team to defeat India on their own home soil in a Test series (2012), look shaky against spin again, almost going down to Bangladesh – a ‘minnow’ who is yet to win a Test match against any team not named Zimbabwe and West Indies. Its only wins against West Indies came in the Caribbean back in 2009, where they won the series 2-1 in the midst of a cripping WICB controversy that made the West Indians field a C-grade team without any main player.

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But this Test match was particularly heartbreaking for the Bangladeshis. They put themselves in a position to win against a top Test team after ages. For the first time, they bowled out an opposition not named West Indies and Zimbabwe twice in a match, and yet ended up going down. Not since their loss to Inzamam-ul-Haq’s Pakistan, where Pakistan won by one measly wicket, has an almost-win hurt so much.

Given their Test history, though, this isn’t quite a surprise. They have been improving exponentially in the short forms of the game over the last year or two, but their Test abilities are still questionable. This is a pity, given that they arrived on the Test scene with virtually a bang, giving India a scare back in 2000 with a fantastic performance that ended in a draw. 

Here’s why they aren’t a feared Test nation:

94 – the number of Tests Bangladesh have played since their debut in 2000.

7 – number of wins.

15 – number of draws.

72 – number of outright losses.

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2 – number of Bangladeshi batsmen who have scored Test double centuries (Tamim Iqbal in 2015, Mushfiqur Rahim in 2013).

2 – number of Test match 10-wicket hauls by Bangladeshi bowlers.

2 – number of batsmen with over 3000 runs for Bangladesh.

2 – number of bowlers with 100 or more wickets for Bangladesh.

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7 – highest number of individual centuries by a Bangladeshi batsman – Tamim Iqbal – averaging almost 40 in his 42 Test matches.

147 – highest number of wickets by a Bangladeshi bowler, Shakib Ul Hasan, in his 41 matches, with 14 five-wicket hauls.

730 – highest team total against Bangladesh, by Sri Lanka in Dhaka in 2014.

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