10 November 2000, the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka was the centre of attraction in the city as Bangladesh was making its test debut against their Asian neighbours, India. Earlier in 2000, Bangladesh had won the Test status and now, they were all set to host their inaugural test. The portentous moment was etched in Bangladesh’s cricket history and their rhetoric rise was all set to begin.
The new era Bangladesh side was determined to replace their horrors of the past albeit they had created a few magical moments in the previous few years.
Bangladesh featured in their first international game in the 1980s but until the 1999 Cricket World Cup, Bangladesh did not get a chance to prove their mettle at the big stage. The 1997 ICC Trophy provided Bangladesh with an opportunity, an opportunity to qualify for the World Cup. 26 years after their independence, they had a chance, a chance to prove themselves. Bangladesh entered the tournament as the underdogs.
With their never say die spirit, they marched on in the tournament, Akram Khan’s heroics, Mohammad Rafique’s leadership and the determination, it all helped the Bangla Tigers.
It all boiled down to the final over where Bangladesh required 11 runs to clinch the title. Khaled Mashud deposited the first delivery into the stands as Bangladesh went on to hold the ICC Trophy 1997, 2 years later, in the 1999 Cricket World Cup, they defeated the in-form Pakistan. Their road was full of obstacles, dodging was an option but Bangladesh’s fearless leaders decided to take those obstacles down.
Over the years, they witnessed some of the finest players, a 17-year-old Mohammad Ashraful stepped on the ground to create history, Ashraful smashed 114 against the likes of Muttiah Muralidharan and Chaminda Vaas.
The Bangladeshi fans were ecstatic, the amount of support they received increased as time progressed, as new players emerged, the passion for cricket increased in Bangladesh. In 2005, Habibul Bashar and Mohammad Rafique guided Bangladesh to their maiden test victory against a visiting Zimbabwe side. Enamul Haque junior weaved his magic as he scalped six wickets in the second innings to take Bangladesh home. They went on to win the Test series 1-0 and later defeated the Zimbabwe side by 3-2 in ODIs.
Next year, Bangladesh created an upset in Cardiff as they defeated a full-strength Australian side in a one-day international. Ashraful’s dominant hundred ensured that Bangladesh got over the line against the likes of McGrath, Gillespie, Kasprowicz and Hogg.
In the 2007 World Cup, they defeated Asian giants India to reach the super eights stage of the tournament. Leaders changed for Bangladesh but the amount of promise remained the same, they showed immense promise whenever they stepped on the field. In the meantime, an all-rounder had arrived on the cricketing circuit.
After Mohammad Ashraful, it was time for Shakib Al Hasan to show his calibre to the cricketing world. His incredible performances in all three formats earned him a massive promotion in the test rankings.
Bangladesh could never produce consistency, their fans always had a glimmer of hope in their eyes but soon those eyes were filled with tears of joy as Bangladesh outclassed other teams to produce a miraculous victory in the 2012 Asia Cup. They went down in their first game against Pakistan but they defeated India and Sri Lanka in the next two games to make a berth in the finals.
The final of the tournament changed Bangladesh’s cricketing history forever as the picture of a crying Shakib Al Hasan surfaced around the internet, they played against their skins to deliver a performance which would be remembered by the Bangladeshi fans forever.
Pakistan defeated them by 2 runs as Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim vent out their emotions on the ground. Fans started carrying tigers to the ground, a few of them started painting themselves when their team played and all of them developed an emotional connection with their team and players.
Bangladesh’s performance on the ground started to have a direct impact on their fans. Bangladesh was taking giant strides in international cricket, a term called ‘’Banglawash’’ found its root in Bangladesh as they whitewashed touring teams at home, they earned a name for themselves by clean sweeping teams such as New Zealand and Pakistan. In the 2015 World Cup, Rubel Hossain knocked over two England batsmen as he ensured the exit of England from the World Cup, Bangladesh took a step further and entered the quarter-final of the tournament where they went down fighting to India.
Over the years, players came, players left, but the support from the fans remained consistent, Bangladesh’s determination, courage and grit remained consistent, leaders like Mashrafe Mortaza emerged, Bangladesh moved on, they fell down, they learnt to rise and most importantly, they learnt to win.