Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Colombo March 20, 2017

Bangladesh's senior men stand up when it matters most

Under duress again, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim forged a match-winning partnership and contributed in the second innings to help Bangladesh create history

Unlike the World T20 game against India in Bengaluru, Mushfiqur Rahim's celebrations began only when the match was won © AFP

Long before Tamim Iqbal's fourth-innings classic, before Mustafizur Rahman magicked Bangladesh into the match, two senior batsmen had forged an important resistance.

At one end, Mushfiqur Rahim: he of the chequered 2016, premature World T20 celebrator, gloating tweeter, captain, and emotion machine. At the other end, Shakib Al Hasan, occasionally preening Bangladeshi superstar, recent purveyor of overambitious shots.

They had come together after a Sri Lanka surge. Three wickets had fallen for six runs, and Bangladesh were still 169 runs short of Sri Lanka's target. The hosts had begun to wrap their tentacles around the match, and Bangladesh needed this pair to lean on their combined 103-Test experience, and put up a fight. After a few early jitters, they did.

It was calculation and sensibility that defined their 92-run stand. Shakib may have been reckless in the first eight balls of his innings, but he had sobered up overnight, venturing boundaries only off the truly bad balls; choosing to mine the gaps off most of the others. Mushfiqur Rahim, in a rich vein of 2017 form, seemed secure at the crease, gathering runs like fallen fruit into a basket, easing singles, pushing gentle twos.

It was a vital passage of play: Sri Lanka could so quickly have sewn up Bangladesh's innings, and very nearly locked the visitors out of the match. Instead, the momentum stood shifted. When debutant Mosaddek Hossain walked to the crease, he did so with Bangladesh less than 50 runs from the lead.

"What made me happy was how we understood the value of the match even when we were ahead or behind in the game," Mushfiqur said after the match. "We tried to recognize small things can add up to something big in the end. The batsmen and bowlers played with responsibility."

While Mushfiqur managed only a half-century, Shakib would go on to 116. Both men also left their mark on the second innings. Shakib with his bowling, shouldering the responsibility of applying pressure while Mustafizur delivered an outstanding post-lunch fourth-day spell at the other end. Skidding some balls on, and turning others, he wangled out the wicket of Asela Gunaratne, then later, turning one out of the rough, took the prize scalp of Dimuth Karunaratne. Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha had suggested Shakib was no longer the bowler of old, but in figures of 4 for 74, he captured a little of his old self.

Mushfiqur had contributed to those figures, moving to the leg side in anticipation of a paddle-sweep from Niroshan Dickwella, then pouching the catch, but it was Bangladesh's chase that saw his best second-innings contribution. There had been a slight wobble in the innings when Sabbir Rahman and Tamim fell within four overs of each other, but Mushfiqur becalmed the innings - alongside Shakib for a 19-run stand - and kept the team on track.

"I have never faced such a situation in Test cricket - it is new for us to chase in this type of wicket on a fifth day," Mushfiqur said. "Tamim and Sabbir really made it easy for us with their 100-plus stand. But no opposition would let us have it easy. We had the belief in the end stages, though unfortunately we lost Shakib. We had Mosaddek and Mehedi Hasan and we thought we could do it in singles."

Mushfiqur had been unable to guide his team to safety in Wellington, where he was hit on the head and taken away in an ambulance. He couldn't bat enough time in Hyderabad, where he was conned into giving away his wicket by R Ashwin. Most famously, in that T20 match in Bengaluru, he'd lost his cool with a win within his grasp, and the team went on to lose the match.

Here, where he and Shakib had wrestled the match back from Sri Lanka. Mushfiqur was here at the end. This time, the arms were raised in celebration only after Bangladesh had won.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ahmed Yousuf on March 23, 2017, 5:09 GMT

    The best thing I saw in this test was that after match celebration. They were happy, but did not exaggerate their celebration. The commentators were saying it will be huge celebration after winning and I was worried a bit about that. The best point of our team is also the worst point that we become happy in little things. These players are maturing, respecting their opponents as always and now we got our fingers crossed for the ODI series. Expecting to see "toe breaker" Lasith Malinga in action.

  • Sathis on March 21, 2017, 17:15 GMT

    Sri Lanka need not worry too much. They are in a team building process. Besides some of their best players like Mathews, Dhammika Prasad and Chameera are in the injured list. We have excellent spin prospects for the future with talents like Sandaken, Vandersay and Aponso around. Chandimal, Kusal Mendis and Dhananjaya will hopefully be our future batting stars. SL need to find two openers in the class of Sanath, Marvan and Dilshan. Fielding needs to be SLs highest priority. With under 19 stars joining the national team the future is going to be bright.

  • Adel on March 21, 2017, 8:40 GMT

    Congratulations to Bangladesh from Afganistan on their maiden test victory against a quality side and that also away from home. But BD could have done much better with a better bowling line up. Did not understand what Subash Roy was doing in the team with less than mediocre bowling. I am sure there are much better bowlers available in the team. Best of luck to both teams from AFG.

  • cricfan75925104 on March 21, 2017, 7:05 GMT

    A. Rahman, your comments is disrespectful to others and it is hurting our image as a Bangladeshi fan. Excepting good contest in the upcoming matches. Best of luck Bangladesh. Do not want to see Shuvagata in the best eleven.

  • Manik on March 21, 2017, 4:25 GMT

    @ZBOBAID: do expect to change ranking just after one win. Ranking point was 65 before the game; now it is 66. WI is 69 now. BD needs to win few more to go above WI. So BD is still 9th ranking.

  •   Cricfan21489977 on March 21, 2017, 3:52 GMT

    The difference between India and Sri Lanka test why BD won this historical test bcoz of young team the inclusion of players like Fizz and Mosaddek were these both players omitted in indias test match.. If these both were in the team then match would have been very interesting.. This team is best only one change has to be done subhashish roy.. We need best pacer who is great backup support for Fizz.. Defenectly the ODI, T20 matches would be interesting waiting for mahmadullah to shine.. Hats off to the BD coach took this team to vera level by Indian Fan

  • friend5942691 on March 21, 2017, 3:25 GMT

    Congratulations Bangladesh from Nepali fan.Hope ICC will give test status to Nepal like they give test status to Bangladesh in 2000 will witness Nepal Success in Test cricket.

  • Zahid on March 21, 2017, 2:39 GMT

    Anybody has any idea on BD's test ranking...i mean if it's going to improve or not after the win?

  • hettih9644397 on March 21, 2017, 2:24 GMT

    As a Sri Lankan best wishes to BD for beating the hosts in their own soil. A very good contest. BD has come a long way. Well for the lankans bad luck & commiserations. How long you guys are going to get your fielding and batting in to order. Pathetic performances in the field, even after you miss a catch its a laughable matter. No discipline in batting. Just watch how Marsh/Handscombe, Pujara/Shaha batted for their respective teams. Patience,patience and follow the basic principals in test cricket leave the balls where you can't hit out side the off stump, tire the bowlers, this is a five day format not T20 or 50 overs. Come on guys get your act together as a team. Mahela, Dilshan and Sanga are gone just forget them they are the legends, but get your act together and be competitive.

  • Samiul on March 20, 2017, 21:26 GMT

    As a Bangladeshi fan, I would like to request all our fans to show respect for others. Yes, We have won a match and it is a great win. But our nonsense comments and signs of arrogance will not bring any glory to this win and this will also not attract any respect to our team as well. Lets celebrate the win, congratulate the team a hope for a greater future. Our tugers will show their ability on the field. And that would be the best way to respind back to the BD haters. I am looking forward for an exciting ODI serioes. Good luck tigers.

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