Joe Root consoles Sabbir Rahman after Bangladesh’s narrow defeat © Getty Images
After four days of a fascinating contest, it took just 19 minutes to finish the Test and Bangladesh’s chances at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. The atmosphere quickly fell flat and there was hardly a crowd in by the time Shafiul Islam was given out for the second time (confirmed on review), as had been the norm in this Test match.
Those who had come into the ground hardly made any noise during the post-match presentation, but for the next 20 minutes, Mushfiqur Rahim tried his best to lift the gloomy mood brought on by a 22-run loss, focusing in particular on performances by the debutants, Mehedi Hasan and Sabbir Rahman, and senior figures Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan.
Mushfiqur said that the result had become less important after the way his team fought all the way till the end, and gave a fine account of their character throughout the five days. He said that consistency is what Bangladesh crave in Test cricket, and this Test was a great example of what they can achiever if a number of players perform together.
“Sometimes you have a distinctive feeling after losing a game,” Mushfiqur said. “We tried what we could. Nobody expected Bangladesh to play in this manner after 15 months so we had to prove that we could do something. We could show our character to a side like England. They have a lot of experienced players. I wouldn’t use the word frustrating but I would call it a learning experience.
“The biggest achievement would be to play consistently for the whole Test match. I think we have done that 90-95 percent of the time but we could have done better in some areas. We can take a lot of positives – Mehedi and Shakib bowled well. Tamim batted well, and it wasn’t in his character to bat like he did. Sabbir batted well too. It was a good Test for Bangladesh.”
There remained some questions about how the game panned out, particularly Sabbir giving Taijul Islam the strike on the final day. Mushfiqur said that it was the management’s decision to take the singles, which would take the pressure off Sabbir from doing all the scoring. He lamented that Bangladesh were not equipped with tailenders capable of holding their own, unlike the England side, which boasted 11 batsmen with at least one first-class century.
“Sabbir wouldn’t have been able to do all the scoring and it wasn’t that Taijul was really bad,” Mushfiqur said. “If it was the last wicket, it would have been different. They had pace from both ends, understandably, so Sabbir couldn’t have taken too much risk. Taijul started well today so we took the decision that they should take a single when it is available.
“Thirty-runs and two wickets is a difficult equation. The match was tilted towards them almost 90 percent. We don’t have any tailender who has a first-class hundred, and even if they did, there’s a huge difference between those scored in county cricket and in our first-class structure. If we would have won, we wouldn’t become an extraordinary Test side. But we ended up achieving much of what we had set ourselves.”
The margin of defeat was less than the deficit Bangladesh gave away in the first innings, their collapse of 5 for 27 on the third morning sparked by Shakib’s unnecessary charge that resulted in a stumping. Mushfiqur suggested that, had Bangladesh taken a first-innings lead, the Test could have taken a different path.
“Those runs build a huge difference,” he said. “We replied with five early wickets in their second innings and then Stokes put up that big partnership but I still think that had we gone close to their 290, the Test match could have taken a different path. It did matter in the end.”
Mushfiqur added that they expected better from Shakib. “I think he realises that he didn’t do the right thing,” Mushfiqur said. “We didn’t expect this from such a mature player. We want him to have more impact for the team.”
The Bangladesh captain’s words were soothing, especially after such a heartbreaking finish for the home side. For all the running that Bangladesh have done in their first Test after almost 15 months, Mushfiqur has certainly taken a long-awaited upward step in his Test captaincy.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo