COLOMBO: Bangladesh will be looking to overcome their recent dismal form as the perennial minnows try to make their 100th Test appearance an occasion to celebrate against Sri Lanka in Colombo.
Test cricket’s newest entrants have showed occasional promise since they were drafted into the elite cricket competition in 2000 but have mostly embarrassed their loyal fans with a series of below-par performances in the game’s most enduring format.
They go into Wednesday’s Test at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium trailing the two-match series 0-1 after last week’s crushing 259-run loss at Galle — their 76th defeat and the fourth in a row in 99 Test matches.
No other Test-playing country has lost so many times in their first 100 Test matches and the dubious honour highlights Bangladesh’s struggle in the five-day format over the past 17 years.
So far they have won only eight Test matches, one more than New Zealand, who had only seven wins in their first 100 Tests, though the Kiwis managed to eke out 47 draws against Bangladesh’s 15.
Five of Bangladesh’s eight wins came at home including four against fellow strugglers Zimbabwe. And they won just three of their 46 games abroad — two against an under-strength West Indies and one against Zimbabwe.
The Tigers, as they are affectionately called by their fans, lost 21 consecutive Test matches between 2001 and 2004, the worst ever losing run by a team which no other side has even come close to emulating.
They have improved in recent matches, drawing their home series against England before dragging their last four Tests into the fifth day, which many saw as a mark of success.
“We are doing the right thing, that’s why we have been competitive in all these games,” coach Chandika Hathurusinghe told reporters in Colombo on Sunday.
– ‘Keep things simple’ –
“Why have you raised your expectations? Because we are doing well, am I right? That’s what we all expect, and we are asking too much of a team that is still finding their team in Test cricket. It is a fact,” he said.
While Sri Lanka Cricket plans to help Bangladesh celebrate their 100th Test match, including hosting a dinner in their honour, the visitors want to focus on the game.
“We’re trying to keep things simple because apart from the 100th Test, this is also an important game for us,” Bangladesh Cricket Board spokesman Jalal Yunus told AFP in Dhaka.
Former captain Habibul Bashar, who played Bangladesh’s inaugural Test against India in 2000, said the team must win more games to prove their detractors, including former England player Geoffrey Boycott, wrong.
“The best way to celebrate the (100th Test) occasion will be winning this game. Bangladesh need this win more than anything else,” Bashar said.
“We are now a strong side in limited over matches. But in Test cricket we must translate our potential into match-winning feats.”
Sri Lanka: Rangana Herath (Capt), Dimuth Karunaratne, Niroshan Dickwella, Upul Tharanga, Dhananjaya de Silva, Kusal Mendis, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Suranga Lakmal, Lahiru Kumara, Nuwan Pradeep, Vikum Sanjaya Bandara, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Malinda Pushpakumara.
Bangladesh :Mushfiqur Rahim (Capt), Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Imrul Kayes Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman, Taijul Islam, Mehedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Mosaddek Hossain, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Subashis Roy, Rubel Hossain.