Dhaka: The man on the streetcorner in Dhaka who jumped up in glee when Bangladesh won their 100th Test match in Colombo on Sunday, may not be quite familiar with Joan Baez’s iconic song on the country’s independence in 1971. ‘Bangladesh, Bangladesh...,” it began — and it was the theme song of the cricketing landscape alongwith the epic efforts of two Indian batsmen: Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha against Australia on Sunday.
It’s not that the ‘Tigers’ of Bangladesh did not have their moment of glory in international cricket — with them having acquired the reputation to play the party-poopers in the limited overs variety in the World Cup over the last decade and a half. Their performance in the five-day version, ever since they were granted official Test playing nation’s status back in 2000, was a matter of concern as they had only eight wins from 99 Test matches to show for on the eve of their 100th Test appearance against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
There were the odd flicker of brilliance, the most notable of them being their win over Alastair Cook’s England at home last year, while they also came close to forcing draws under adverse circumstances against New Zealand and India. The team now has four victories against major Test-playing nations: once each against Sri Lanka and England and twice against the West Indies while the other five wins were against the lowly Zimbabwe.
The moment young debutant Mehedi Miraj pushed the ball to take Bangladesh to a historic Test victory against Rangana Herath’s men and end a long drought against the Islanders, the winning roar reverberated back home, a thousand kilometres away from the venue in Colombo on the shore of the Indian Ocean.
The Bangladesh supporters, whose loyalties for the national cricket team has often bordered on overzealousness, took to the streets amid the afternoon rush hour of the first day of the week. While motorists listening to their car radios honked their horns loudly in cheer, social media platforms went in a tizzy with expressions of joy.
People working in offices, factories and even in the newsrooms of TV channels, radios and newspapers jumped from their seats, thumping their desks to express their joy. Sweetmeats were distributed among the staff by the management of The Independent TV and newspaper as part of the celebration.
Students burst into cheers at the TSC corners of Dhaka University, with some holding the Bangladesh flag high in front of the Raju sculpture, Aporajeo Bangla sculpture. Sweetmeat shops witnessed a mad rush of customers to buy and distribute sweets to celebrate the great victory that sub-continental superpowers like India nor Pakistan could achieve in their 100th Test matches.
“I think this win started when we lost the match in Galle,” said Tamim Iqbal, the man of the match, referring to their 259-run humiliation in the first Test. “We had a long chat with the coach [Chandika Hathurusingha], and the players stepped up,” the experienced opener, who led their run-chase fraught with nerves, said after the match.