Having lost a close first Test in Chittagong last week by 22 runs, Bangladesh could have allowed their shoulders to droop. Instead, they channelised their disappointment to pull off inarguably their most famous Test victory, drubbing England by 108 runs with two days to spare to square the two-match series 1-1 in Dhaka on Sunday (October 30).
The victory, which arrested a sequence of nine losses in nine previous Tests to England, was fashioned by Mehedi Hasan, the offspinner who made his debut in Chittagong. Mehedi took his second six-wicket haul of the match as England, chasing 273 for a series sweep on a difficult surface, went from 100 without loss to 164 all out on a dramatic third evening.
“It’s a great moment for Bangladesh cricket. It was up and down and you never knew which team would win. The coach (Chandika Hathurusinghe) was a bit fired up at tea. We didn’t bowl too well. Then they tried to bowl in good areas and did really well. The bowlers did a great job. We didn’t think Mehedi would shine like this. He’s a good batsman as well and hopefully will be a great all-rounder for Bangladesh.” – Mushfiqur Rahim
Bangladesh had started the day on 152 for 3 in their second innings, an overall lead of 128, and kicked on to post 296 before being bowled out shortly after lunch. When Alastair Cook and Ben Duckett, in particular, began in a blaze of positivity to take England to 100 in 23 overs at tea, there was little indication of the carnage to follow.
The drama began with the first ball on resumption when Mehedi pushed Duckett on to the back foot and snuck one through his defence to rattle timber. Duckett gone for 56, his maiden Test fifty, the onus was on Cook to carry the fight alongside Joe Root and company but Mehedi and Shakib Al Hasan, the left-arm spinner, had other ideas.
England lost wickets in a heap soon after the Duckett dismissal and eventually folded without resistance, only Ben Stokes (25) apart from Duckett and Cook, who top-scored with 59, getting into double figures. Mehedi finished with 6 for 77 to give him match figures of 12 for 159 while Shakib took 4 for 49, the two bowling 34.3 of the 45.3 overs England lasted in the second innings.
Duckett began England’s quest for 273 in aggressive fashion, playing the reverse-sweep more than once and resorting to both the conventional sweep and the slog-sweep to unsettle the spinners. With Cook solid at the other end, Mushfiqur Rahim gradually spread out the field in a bid to staunch the bleeding, aware that one wicket would bring many more on a surface that tested both the technique and the fortitude of the batsmen.
Once Mehedi provided the breakthrough in the first over after tea, England went into an inexorable tailspin as wickets tumbled with alarming regularity. Even so, their faint hopes were kept alive till such time that Cook was in the middle, until the captain was smartly caught at silly-point off the face of the bat by Mominul Haque. Cook was the fifth batsman dismissed, at 133, and the innings folded 12 overs later, for the addition of just 31 more runs.
In the morning, Adil Rashid and Stokes did their part with the ball, sharing seven wickets between them to help the visitors dismiss Bangladesh for 296. Rashid, the legspinner, took a catch off his own bowling to remove last man Kamrul Islam to finish with 4 for 52 while Stokes snapped up 3 for 52. Shuvagata Hom was unbeaten on 25 as Bangladesh added 28 runs with the last three wickets resuming the play at the lunch break with 268 for 7.
“270 would have been a helluva chase … probably. Today we showed our inexperience in these conditions. When the ball got rolling we couldn’t stop it.” – Alastair Cook
England had the chance to dismiss Bangladesh with a cheaper total had they not dropped a series of catches, which allowed Bangladesh to build on their overnight 152 for 3. Imrul Kayes was the first wicket to fall on Sunday as he departed for 78 but not before being dropped twice in the slips. Cook dropped him on 66 off Zafar Ansari before Root grassed him on 74 off Moeen Ali.
Moeen finally trapped Kayes leg before but England proved unable to grasp their opportunities even after that. Jonny Bairstow missed a simple stumping chance off Ansari when Shakib was on 16. Ansari was denied again by Duckett, who dropped a simple catch at deep midwicket to give Shakib a second lease of life on 23. Rahim also had his share of luck when he was dropped by Steven Finn off Ansari on six.
Rashid began his haul by bowling Shakib for 41 and Rahim fell before another run had been added. Rahim edged Stokes to Cook at slip for nine before Rashid took his second wicket of the morning, trapping Sabbir Rahman leg before for 15.