Turning the wildest of dreams into reality ft. Bangladesh

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06 Jan 2022 | 07:47 AM
authorSamarnath Soory

Turning the wildest of dreams into reality ft. Bangladesh

At Bay Oval, a dream that was seemingly beyond the realms of possibility became reality

November 16, 2019 was one of those dark days for Bangladesh cricket. They were knocked out within three days at the Holkar Stadium in Indore by an imperious Indian side on the rise. Ebadot Hossain was leading the pace attack and bowled 31 overs – the most by the visiting bowlers in the match and returned 1-115. 

The economy was 3.7, which was higher than Umesh Yadav’s 3.6, the worst among Indian bowlers. The defeat came on the heels of a chastising home defeat against Test minnows Afghanistan and India were behemoths hell bent on world dominance. 

Bangladesh lacked coherence with their batting and an unhealthy obsession with producing spinners on the domestic circuit backfired spectacularly. Their trend continued for the next six Test series. A raw West Indies team was allowed to run away with a 2-0 series at home, they drew a high-scoring slugfest in Sri Lanka before losing the second one convincingly. The only high points were two one-off Tests against Zimbabwe.

The morale of Bangladesh was low coming into the series. They were thoroughly outclassed across formats by Pakistan which came shortly after a nightmarish T20 World Cup where they had lost all their Super 12s matches. Adding some more sting to those wounds was the unavailability of Shakib al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, arguably their greatest Test players, while a spate of Covid-19 cases within the camp halted preparations. 

There was nothing to suggest that this team led by Mominul Haque would pull off something audacious. 

New Zealand, without influential captain Kane Williamson, were holders of the World Test Championship and had their fearsome pace attack ready.

At the Bay Oval though, the baggage of history mattered as much as tiny humans did to the majestic Mount Maunganui overseeing the venue. Like their famous ODI victory in the 2007 World Cup against India, Bangladesh did not concede ground in hope for the opposition to slip. This had all the best sub plots and even better pay off for Bangladeshis at home to wake up long before sun had risen in the Northern Hemisphere.

New Zealand, for majority of the match, kept their heads, but Bangladesh just out thought them. Will Young, Henry Nicholls, Ross Taylor and Devon Conway stood their ground but Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Ebadot Hossein and Mehidy Hassan Miraz hacked at the tall order like a group of lumberjacks in rhythmic sync. Captain Mominul provided the final push to topple it.

When it was their turn to bat, every batter was borrowing grit from the one walking back to the pavilion. Mahmadul Hasan stood patiently for five hours while Shadman Islam showed no hangover from the Pakistan series where his wicket was a freebie. Liton Das, who was admonished for his repeated failures in white-ball cricket, held his defence while Mominul led from the front. The same batting order which looked lost at home charted new ways on foreign soil.

Despite their collective efforts, Bangladesh had always been a team that could be undone by a single effort. Inzamam-Ul-Haq left Khaled Mahmud’s men in tears in Multan back in 2003 with an unbeaten century as he took Pakistan to single-wicket victory. Kyle Mayers torpedoed them with a double century just a year ago in Chattogram as West Indies chased 395. Taylor looked set for something similar when remained not out at the end of day four. 

Bangladesh had to avoid it at all costs and needed to create one tiny fissure on the final day’s morning.

Ebadot erupted. 

The Air Force man had seen so many pitfalls in career, there was nothing more to lose. As he sent back New Zealand batters one by one, he lined up to the Bangladesh flag in the stands each time and saluted it. According to New Zealand government’s recent census, close to 2,400 Bangladeshis are living in the country.  By the time the team walked off the field with Ebadot in the lead, more than 16 crores back at home had joined the celebrations.

It had taken Bangladesh 16 Tests against New Zealand and 21 years to reach this point. Just 40 runs stood in their way. 

Mominul, who had barely slept the night before final day, ran towards the striker’s end as Mushfiqur Rahim slashed Kyle Jamieson to the backward point boundary. There was the moment, a dream that he had feared being called a lunatic for, had become a reality. 

Mominul’s eyes were inscrutable under the shadow of his helmet, but the broad smile on his face when he hugged Mushfiqur said what the win meant to him and the beloved sport of his people.

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New Zealand vs BangladeshBangladesh tour of New Zealand, 2022BangladeshNew ZealandEbadot HossainMushfiqur RahimMominul Haque

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