The first Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at Galle may have ended in a high-scoring draw, but the visitors would consider the result as a psychological boost. Their record makes it clear that they don’t often save games against major sides, leave alone winning, so this result was a welcome change for Mushfiqur Rahim and his men. They competed with Sri Lanka in all departments of the game, and came out as equals, which is a victory in itself for the nation that achieved Test status 13 years ago, and has since been trying to find its feet in the five-day game.
A lot of records were achieved by Bangladesh in the game, which suggests they had a pretty memorable outing. The skipper himself led from the front, scoring a magnificent double hundred, the first ever by a Bangladeshi batsman. The knock was even more impressive in the context that it came after Sri Lanka themselves had posted a huge score on the board batting first. Undoubtedly then, Rahim would have been under extreme pressure when he came into bat. Strikingly, he did not show any sign of nerves; the experience of playingintense international cricket definitely coming to the fore.
The knock by the somewhat unfairly talented yet undependable Mohammad Ashraful was equally brilliant. For nearly a decade now, Ashraful’s career has spelt frustration in Bangladesh cricket. His record has been so poor in all formats of the game that the selectors have been often forced to axe him and pick less gifted cricketers in spite of the obvious dearth of talent in their mix. The 28-year-old’s workmanlike 190 at Galle is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is important that he continues in the same vein. Too often in the past he has raised hopes with similar breathtaking efforts, only to exasperate with repeated failures.
Apart from skipper Rahim and Ashraful, there were a couple of other shining efforts with the bat from Bangladesh, which will stand the respective players in good stead heading into the next Test. The talented Nasir Hossain made a quality century coming in at number seven, adding to his improving credentials in this format of the game. Mominul Haque also made a good half-century although in hindsight he would feel that he missed out on a great opportunity to cross the 100-figure mark himself. At the same time, his knock was significant since it came after Bangladesh had lost a couple of early wickets, and he did the job of absorbing the pressure rather well.
Bangladesh would have been even more pleased had their bowlers put up a better show. At the same time, things should be put into perspective. When the experienced Sri Lankan bowlers couldn’t make an impression in familiar conditions, too much shouldn’t be read into the visitors allowing Lankan batsmen to pile up five centuries during the course of the two innings. On the contrary, they must look to build on their massive gains from the drawn Test.
--By A Cricket Analyst