Four years and two months ago, on a lovely Friday morning when Shahriar Hossain
let a ball from Srinath go by the outside off, Bangladesh sailed on her maiden
voyage to the unknown vast of Test cricket. Many balls have since passed by
both off and leg sides and many runs have scrolled down the scoreboard, but
a test win for Bangladesh has never come by.
The fanatic cricket nation missed a heart beat or two at the fourth day of
the third test against Pakistan in Multan two years ago as the win slipped through
their grasp. The lone win still remained elusive when the packed Chittagong
gallery booed their captain once so passionately called Chacha, the fighter.
Forty thousand fans spontaneously erupted in a standing ovation to young Ashraful
when he crafted a chanceless innings, they didn't even mind to batter their
vocal cords at the beats of the drums to cheer the tigers up but the victory
never comes any closer. The taste of a shy test win gets sweeter and sweeter
day by day, match by match for Bangladesh.
Exactly four years and two months after the inaugural test match against India,
Bangladesh takes on Zimbabwe at the MA Aziz Stadium just outskirt of Chittagong
on the final day of the 1st test of the series having the first-ever Test victory
firm and clear in sight. But coming to this 10th day of January took much more
than just four years and two months.
Never before in the history of Test cricket, a nation had to suffer so much
public criticism, humiliation, denigration and degradation. Even the ICC came
hard on its own decision to grant Bangladesh the elite status when it started
to explore a way to demote a nation full of passionate cricket lovers.
Bangladesh, with her first generation of young and inexperienced players, managed
to show credible performance against the likes of ruthless Australia, king Lara's
West Indies, formidable Pakistan and ever challenging England. Unfortunately,
the records of youngest centurion, test hat-trick and even the smallest margin
of defeat failed to enchant the quibbler's heart.
Legends after legends came to steal the limelight to call for the demise of
the 10th test playing nation. Reporters after reporters ran riot in inventing
words and phrases to shower Bangladesh in endless humility. At one point it
seemed like there will be no living well wisher out side of Bangladesh as the
chorus grew louder and louder. It was a sickening experience for a nation so
fond of cricket, who so lovingly and proudly call themselves the 'Tigers'.
Just when there seemed to be no end to this ignominy, the tigers bounced back
to roar against a nation, arguably the second best in the world. The bite was
so fierce that the skipper had no other option but to make an immediate u-turn
to his earlier comments on the so-called n-tier system. The whole world watched
in absolute silence as the tigers ripped through the Indian lineup. Youngest
test centurion to-date, Mohammed Ashraful proved too much for the Indian attack.
Mashrafe, Bashar, Rajin and Aftab showed their new found confidence and class.
India will never see the Tigers the same way again for years to come.
For the Tigers, it was an electrifying event to say the least. They never knew
what they had missed before, the drum beats, the flags, the eruptions, the ultimate
joy of playing in ourown back yard with families and friends around and what
not! Now that they know it, they are hungry as ever and the Zimbabweans could
not have come any sooner.
Rajin continues from where he left off with the Indians. Bashar picks up his
old self without a hitch. Rafique greets the batsman, one after another in the
middle as if he owns the pitch. Mashrafee dances around flexing biceps terrorizing
both batsmen and bowlers. Young Enam took the role of a silent killer. There is no better time for the Tigers to register
their first test win.
And they did so in style, dominating the opponent from the very first minute.
They made the Zimbabwean sweat mercilessly under the blazing sun for almost
two days and with equal cruelty, lured them to bat only to make them surrender
4 wickets at the close of the second day. Zimbabwe managed to avoid the follow-on,
thanks to the heroics from their skipper and his mates, but suffered continuous
tightening and never recovered. The Tigers overwhelmed the hapless opponent
on the final day.
The 10th ranked test playing nation seals its first test victory on the 10th
January, 2005 exactly fours years and two months after gaining the elite status.
Habibul Bashar, Khaled Masud, Nafis Iqbal, Javed Omar, Mohammad Ashraful, Rajin
Saleh, Aftab Ahmed, Mohammad Rafique, Enamul Haque jnr, Tapash Baishya, Mashrafe
Mortaza and Talha Jubair will never be the same when they go on to play again.
They are no more paper tigers as the detractors would say. They have come of
ages and sure will be eager for more wins. A win is a win but this really meant
much to Bangladesh, to the players and to the fans.
The evening is never too short for the celebration. Let the students, professionals,
kids, fans take the control of the streets one more time to celebrate and taste
the victory that finally finds its way to a new home to stay a very long time.