The final day of the second Test match between Bangladesh and New Zealand was expected to be a gripping contest. New Zealand's handy lead in the first innings was given a fighting reply by the hosts, which made the contest an even one. But rain on the final day spoiled the party and the two-match Test series ended in a draw. Many fans cursed the rain, many fans' weekend had been spoiled. For once, for Bangladesh fans, rain was not a blessing but a curse. Had there been no rain, the Tigers could have pushed the Kiwis. Clearly, the mentality of Bangladesh fans is changing. As a matter of fact, Bangladesh cricket is changing.
In the limited-overs format, Bangladesh have become increasingly competitive since 2012, but in Test cricket they always remained underachievers. There were flashes of hope, but in the blink of an eye those ebbed with horrifying exhibitions, with Bangladesh's ability to play Test cricket remaining questionable. But steadily, though somewhat late, Bangladesh are getting into the groove and starting to play Test cricket the way it should be played.
Bangladesh's biggest downside in Test cricket had been their lack of discipline in batting. Time and again, Bangladesh batsmen failed to stand up to big totals and surrendered meekly. Thankfully, this year, the world noticed how audaciously Bangladeshi batsmen stood up to face the challenge. They showed this in Galle, Chittagong and Dhaka - assuring everyone that Bangladesh cricket is finding its feet in the Test arena.
In the first Test in Chittagong, the Kiwi tail wagged and posted a mammoth total. Bangladesh started shoddily as both the openers walked back to the pavilion cheaply; however, that didn't shake the batting order as the middle order scripted a fightback to take first innings lead and eventually draw the match. In Mirpur too, the batsmen replied doggedly. There was that natural instinct to go after the bowling but not without discipline. In the past, Bangladesh suffered due to the lack of discipline in batting but it wasn't the case in this two-Test series.
Bangladesh have plenty of positives to take from this 0-0 draw. Their never-say-die attitude has been awe-inspiring throughout, with the emergence of Mominul Haque being one of biggest gains. His boldness and ice-cool temperament worked like a spell of calmness for the middle-order. He has made the number four position his own through sheer skill, talent and right attitude. His gutsy display throughout the two Tests instilled confidence in his team-mates that they can face up to the New Zealand challenge. Mominul built a strong foundation on which the others capitalised to turn the Test series into a step in the right direction for Bangladesh cricket. Very seldom have Bangladesh been seen to stay consistent throughout a Test series, and though it will be too early to pronounce that the ghost of inconsistency has been buried, Bangladesh can take a lot of heart from their collective performance.
Despite the lack of opportunity to play enough Test cricket and despite various unwanted situations on and off the field, Bangladesh's performance against New Zealand needs to be appreciated. Like the previous Test series against the Kiwis, this one had not been a jolly-bash but an evenly fought contest between two teams and it was all possible due to Bangladesh's newfound fighting spirit.
Well fought Bangladesh!