Cricket was still second to football in Bangladesh till the mid-1990s. But it gradually became the most popular sport with the Tigers' improved performances in the late 1990s in the ICC Trophy and Cricket World Cup. Supporters, along with the cricketers gradually started to dream about playing Test cricket someday soon. The dream became a reality, probably sooner than anyone had ever expected.
November 10, 2000 - Bangladesh got onto the field to play their first-ever test match, against India. The dream came true.
Today marks twenty years of the first test match for the Tigers. We look back at the most awaited moment in our cricket history so far and see how Tigers actually fared in that match.
Road to Test status
Bangladesh played their first-ever World Cup in 1999 in England and recorded their first win against Scotland. Later, they caused a huge upset by beating Pakistan by 62 runs at Northampton.
This incredible result and the huge fan following back home prompted the ICC to grant Bangladesh Test status. The ardent support of Jagmohan Dalmiya, the then president of BCCI, also helped the cause big time.
Bangladesh gained Test status on 26 June 2000. They played their inaugural Test match on 10 November 2000, hosting India in Dhaka.
The most awaited moment
It was a bit too early for the Tigers though. They were not quite ready for the overwhelming standard of Test cricket just yet. Amidst all these, they got onto the field to play their first Test against a mighty Indian side.
It felt like a festival all around. A splendid opening ceremony was held. The then prime minister Sheikh Hasina along with other important parliament members and sports personnel were present in the inauguration ceremony.
Naimur Rahman Durjoy, the captain of Tigers' first Test won the toss and elected to bat. A fairytale journey had begun.
The first playing eleven included Shahriar Hossain, Mehrab Hossain, Akram Khan, Habibul Bashar, Aminul Islam Biplob, Al Shahriar, Khaled Mashud, Ranjan Das, Mohammad Rafique and Hasibul Hossain alongside the skipper Naimur Rahman.
Batting first, Tigers were in trouble in the early stage. They lost both the openers inside the first hour of the play putting a mere 44 runs on the board.
Aminul Islam Bulbul, the first centurion of Tigers' first-ever test innings, came on to bat and showed his masterclass. He had Habibul Bashar to accompany him. Habibul Bashar was dismissed for 71 but Bulbul kept on going.
Bulbul reached a historic landmark on the very first day of Bangladesh's test cricket. He scored a hundred, played a solid test inning, stopped at 145 from 380 balls with 17 boundaries to his name. He batted for almost 9 hours.
Bulbul's tremendous batting display put Tigers to a comfortable position after the first innings. Tigers managed to score 400 runs from 153 overs. Undoubtedly a decent batting display in the very first innings in test cricket.
Skipper's five-wicket haul
Tigers restricted India for 429 runs in their first innings, thanks to the skipper Naimur Rahman Durjoy for his five-for in the very first innings of Tigers' Test journey.
Durjoy bowled 44.3 overs for his 6 wickets, giving away 132 runs. He picked up the wickets of Shiv Sunder Das, Murali Kartik, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Saba Karim and Ajit Agarkar. To pick up the wicket of legends like Tendulkar and Sourav was no easy feat. He bowled amazingly well and bagged a well-deserved five-for on debut.
Mohammad Rafique, the legendary left-arm spinner, picked up three wickets and played a very important part in restricting the Indians for 429 runs.
The game changed in an hour
Bangladesh were trailing by just 29 runs when they came on to bat in the second innings. Expectations were high after their performance with both bat and ball in the first innings. As it seemed, the hosts would draw their first-ever Test match. But the cricket Gods had different plans.
The Bangladesh batting line-up got scrambled like a house of cards. The match totally turned in favour of the more experienced visitors within an hour.
Bangladesh were all-out for only 91 runs batting only 46.3 overs. They seemed absolutely clueless. Habibul Bashar was the highest scorer with 30 runs in his bag, the only consistent performer in the match for the hosts.
India needed only 63 runs to win, they managed to chase down the target quite easily taking only 15 overs and lost only one wicket.
Mominul Haque, the current Bangladesh Test captain spoke to TBS about his memory of that test match. "I was living in Cox's Bazar and was a kid and in that region, most people weren't interested in cricket. I did get to know about Bulbul Bhai's (Aminul Islam) century and then the five-wicket haul of Durjoy Bhai (Naimur Rahman)," said Tigers' Test skipper.
Though the Tigers faced a heavy defeat, they did show a glimpse of promise in their very first match. However, they failed to live up to the expectations and have been inconsistent throughout their last twenty years, and are still trying to figure out how they should approach Test cricket.