So the rollercoaster ride continues as the year comes to a close. It will be
a memorable one for the loyal fans who finally got their reward after years
of agony. Bangladesh broke their duck in the longer form and produced their
first series win but it wasn?t a complete turn around as the affectionately
called ?Tigers? returned from Sri Lanka winless.
Bangladesh (Test Performance)
The long wait came to an end in January with the maiden Test victory in Chittagong.
Sure it came against weakened opposition but that didn?t mean that the Bangladeshis
didn?t have to fight. Without a single century scored, Bangladeshi batsmen crafted one of their finest innings to go on to score 488 runs, their highest till date. Enamul Haque Jnr also bowled Zimbabwe out for 154 to win the Test. That feat remains the cheapest total against Bangladesh by any opposition, beating
Pakistan?s 175 in 2003. In the second Test, Nafis Iqbal hit the only century
of the year in saving the Test and ensuring that Bangladesh had their first
series victory and showing the fighting spirit and the ability to held their
nerves even when the chips are down.
A long lay-off meant that Bangladesh were short on match practise going in
to play on the most difficult wickets the world could offer, England in the
start of their summer. Bangladesh gifted wickets after wickets in the
first three Test innings as they could muster just 108, 159 and 104. A fighting
316 in the final Test restored some pride and ensured that the batting average
for the tour was 17.1, still not too flashy. What was even worse was the bowling
effort; England completely dominated the attack in both innings racking up more
than 900 runs in two innings. The defeats were heavy but the most embarrassing
figure was the massive total of 162.5 runs scored for every wicket taken.
Sri Lanka was another disaster. Not to the same proportions as England but
they continued the streak to four consecutive innings defeats. The batting was
at its absolute worst with no scores over 200 and just two half-centuries for
the entire tour. The results could have been even worse if two young quicks
hadn?t stood up. The batting average for the tour was a measly 16.5 but the
bowling average was 45.9. Captain Habibul Bashar later named it ?the worst series
Zimbabwe was a revelation, a series win and a maiden Test defeat. However, the way the Tigers
were humbled in both Sri Lanka and England showing how much improvement is still
Bangladesh (ODI Performance)
While the Test team result?s left a lot to be desired, the one-day team
performed regularly and had their most balanced season of all. The batsmen performed
on many occasions and despite conceding a few large totals, the bowlers performed as well.
Most of all, this year will be remembered for that one fateful afternoon in Cardiff when the cricket world came to love the boys from the newest test nation.
The year began with two narrow losses to Zimbabwe, all but ending their chances
of a first series victory. However the spinners got together and bowled out
Zimbabwe cheaply and the batsmen combined to make one of the greatest comebacks
of all time. The batsmen scored over 200 in every innings apart from the last
where they chased a score of 189 and won the match two down. The batting average for the series was 28.2 and the bowling average 25.0, the only time they have had those two figures right on the spot.
Coming off a disappointing test series, Bangladesh lost the opening game of the NatWest Series by 10 wickets. When they took on Australia at Cardiff no-one
expected what was going to happen. The bowlers performed well and restricted
Australia to 249 off their 50 overs. It was a fine performance but one that
had to be backed up with the batsman. It sure was the batsmen who timed the chase perfectly and produced the biggest upset in international history and showed that on their day, Bangladesh can be world beaters. The Tigers were brought down to earth quickly though as England charted a record 391 runs off their fifty overs and Bangladesh didn?t win another match on the tour. Despite bowing
out of the tournament early it was a memorable one and the batsmen consistently
managed scores of over 200 and finished with a batting average of 25.2.
From the NatWest series it was on to Sri Lanka with the news that they would have to perform without Mashrafe, their main strike bowler. They were beaten comprehensively
in all three matches but never thrashed. The bowlers didn?t concede 300
once and the batsmen managed one score of over 200. The bowling average from
the series was an impressive 37.2.
2005 produced the best win-loss ratio in the 19 years in the international circuit. The win over Australia was definitely the pinnacle of all but they performed credibly on a regular basis as the year progressed.
The humble leader of Bangladesh improved his record as the most successful
captain. Seven of Bangladesh?s ten one-day victories have come under his
leadership and his place at the top of the tree is guaranteed for another couple
of series. He will also be known as the captain who got Bangladesh their first
Test victory. Despite the success, his captaincy did come under some scrutiny during the tour of England as he was accused of inconsistent and futile field settings.
With the bat, Bashar was the best again in 2005. He scored 376 runs in the
calendar year, 30 more than Javed Omar who came in second. Although he didn?t
score a century, something he would like to improve in the new year, Habibul
Bashar scored his runs at the very respectable average of 31.33. He played some
very important innings, such as the 94 he scored at Chittagong in their first
Test victory and the 84 he scored in the first innings in Sri Lanka, where he
looked completely at ease before being run out in pursuit of his century. The greatest run scorer in Bangladesh cricket took his tally to over 2500 runs and doesn?t look like slowing down any time soon.
Despite his achievements in Test cricket, Habibul Bashar has always been disappointing
in the one-day arena. In 2005 however, he scored 337 runs, second only to Mohammad
Ashraful. His highest score of 47 came in a very important partnership with
Ashraful while producing their memorable run chase against Australia at Cardiff.
Enamul Haque Jnr:
The stand-out of the under-19 World Cup, Enamul Haque Jnr was selected as the
second spinner for the Chittagong Test alongside Mohammad Rafique. Playing in
just his fourth Test, Enamul went wicketless in the first innings but was good
support for Mohammad Rafique as the pair tied down the Zimbabwean batsmen. Rafique
returned with another five-for and ensured a first innings lead for the home
Chasing 381 for victory, Zimbabwe went to stumps on Day Four struggling at
3/46 with Enamul claiming the wicket of Stuart Matsikenyiri. Taylor and Masakadza
went in on day five desperate to produce victory. However, Enamul claimed both
their wickets in short succession and it was the catch of Masakadza when Bangladesh
knew they had it. Enamul Haque Jnr
went on to destroy the rest of the Zimbabwean order and give a cricket hungry
nation their first Test win. Enamul returned with the best figures ever by a Bangladeshi bowler, 6/45 off just 22.2 overs.
Enamul never looked back. Bowling with more loop and turn, he played the lone
hand in Dhaka claiming 12 wickets and becoming the youngest man to do so. It
wasn?t enough to prevent Tatenda Taibu from hitting a magnificent hundred
and making life difficult for the Bangladeshi?s, but he?d done enough
to ensure the trophy was staying in Dhaka and claim Man of the Series while
Enamul made his one-day debut in game two and was the standout bowler with
2/37 off his ten overs. With Rafique out injured for the series, Manjural Islam Rana bowled
with Enamul for the third match. Rana was magnificent as he returned figures
of 4/34 as Enamul remained wicketless. As a result, when Rafique returned it
was Rana who would accompany him in game four. Bangladesh however did the unthinkable
and played three left-arm spinners in game five, all of who performed well in
restricting Zimbabwe to 198.
Enamul hasn?t played a match since and has the career figures of 4 wickets
at 32.25 a piece, not bad at all.
On unfavourable pitches, Enamul didn?t play an international match until
the tour of Sri Lanka. In the first Test, he again supported Rafique to a five-wicket
haul, similar to the first Test in Chittagong however this time there was no
second innings to weave his magic. He was even less effective in the second
Test as he left the tour wicketless, missing the spark that claimed his 18 wickets
in the series against Zimbabwe. Regardless of his poor showing, he finished
the year with a bowling average of 26.44.
A more than competent understudy for Mohammad Rafique, Enamul Haque is held
in high regard by those curious about the future of Bangladesh Cricket. Former
under-19 coach Richard McInnes said, ?he will be the leading-wicket taker
for many years? about the spinner which one him the plate at the 2004
The experienced hands of Khaled Mashud became the first Bangladeshi to play
100 One-Day Internationals during the tour of Sri Lanka. In the longer form
of the game, the gritty wicketkeeper scored 258 runs at an average of 23.45,
an effort which lifted his career average up to 20.
He also had his best year with the gloves, after the selectors showed their
intensions of trialling Mushfiqur Rahim, the man from Rajshahi stepped up another
notch and claimed 16 dismissals for the calendar year, hardly missing a chance.
The most experienced one-day player the country has to offer, showed his class
throughout the year, keeping his wicket in tact on six occasions. His 261 runs
came at an outstanding average of 43.50 and his five stumpings were second only
to Mahendra Dhoni, incredible considering he only played half as many matches.
The experienced 29-year-old looks to keep his understudy Mushfiqur Rahim out
of the game for quite some time.
Ashraful?s talent is without question, and he showed it again in 2005,
if only briefly. After a phenomenal 158 against India in December, many were
predicting 2005 as another big year for Mohammad Ashraful.
The underachiever of the historic series against Zimbabwe, Mohammad Ashraful
needed a big series against England. The Test series produced a string of low
scores in the shape of 6, 2, 3 and 12. After a first-ball duck in the NatWest
Series many critics weren?t out of line when they called for Ashraful
to be dropped.
Brilliant ton from Ashraful as Bangladesh defeat the World Champions
He proved them all wrong however with possibly the greatest knock that Bangladesh
has ever seen. He was technically perfect as he went about building an innings
and rotated the strike well. By the time he?d gotten to 30 he started
making his own luck, using clever improvisation and brute power to find the
boundary. He had a stroke of luck in the fifties when he was put down at fine
leg but went on to hit a run-a-ball hundred, the second for Bangladesh in the
shorter form of the game. He was out the next ball but it was enough to ensure
Bangladesh would produce the greatest upset in cricket history.
He took the momentum into the next match against England. Again Ashraful had
his fair share of luck with his first ball bouncing off the bails without them
leaving their groove. He chanced his arm in pursuit of a world record 391 and
for a while looked like he might just pull it off. An incredible innings of
94 was brought to an end off just 52 deliveries. With it went Bangladesh?s
hopes but it showed the incredible ability of the youngest Test centurion. Ashraful
finished the series with 259 runs at 43.16 but was beaten to Man of the Series
by Andrew Symonds.
A modest series of Sri Lanka gave Ashraful the dismal Test statistics 157 runs
at 13.08 for the calendar year, a drastic change from his average of 40last year.
The one-day form however gave him more success, the leading run scorer with
395 runs at an average of 28.21.
His year will be best remembered by that one knock at Cardiff which rewarded
him with his fourth Man of the Match and his second in One Day Internationals.
Consistency is something usually associated with Mohammad Rafique but surprisingly 2005 was a little different for him. He bowled many overs throughout the year
with a huge workload as usual. This is Rafique?s field of expertise, bowling
to a plan and working hard for his wickets while the bowler at the other end
goes for many.
After 41 overs brought him five wickets, in the first innings at Chittagong
he only took one more wicket as his understudy took all the credit for the pressure
Rafique builded at the other end.
He suffered an injury while batting at Dhaka which forced him out for the first
three one-day matches. When Rafique returned, he bowled as good as ever. Picking
up his best one-day figures in game four and he was devastating with the bat
in game five, smashing Bangladesh to the modest Zimbabwean total.
The tour of England was one of the worst for Rafique, he failed to get any
turn during the two Tests and finished with series with the figures of 1/257.
He played a crucial role in the NatWest Series as his defensive totals helped
restrict Australia to 249 at Cardiff. It was his only good performance as he
finished the NatWest Series with a bowling average of 133.
Rafique?s second five-wicket haul came in the first Test at Colombo but
went wicketless for the rest of the series. With two five-wicket hauls, Rafique
could have expected more that 12 wickets at 57 runs a-piece. The pressure will be on Rafique to perform now, with Enamul Haque jnr knocking at the door for a test recall.
What did improve for Rafique however was his batting. He batted Bangladesh
to victory in two of their four one-day wins during the year. He averaged 17
with the bat in both forms and took 11 one-day wickets at an average of 41.
Something he?ll be looking to improve in 2006.
The flamboyant right-hander played the innings of his life on January 18 as
he saved the Test series against Zimbabwe. His maiden Test hundred was an innings
of incredible determination and courage as he battled for his team against all
odds to ensure a draw. It was the second longest match saving innings in Test
history and the only Test century for Bangladesh during the year.
Like many of the Bangladesh batsmen, he struggled terribly in English conditions.
Iqbal could only manage 33 runs from his four innings and was dropped immediately
after Bangladesh?s historic win in Cardiff. He has not played a One Day
International innings since despite having scored 186 runs at 26.57 for the
His replacement Shahriah Nafees has been tipped as the next captain of Bangladesh
and was outstanding throughout the NatWest Series making Iqbal?s future
in the national team doubtful. The nephew of Akram Khan, Nafis Iqbal returned
for the second Test against Sri Lanka and scored 30 opening the batting in the
second innings. This move meant that Shahriah Nafees was batting down the order
and hit his first half-century in the same innings. With Javed Omar?s
reliability at the top of the order it looks like Nafis Iqbal is going to lose
out to Shahriar Nafees for the opening slot and spend some more time out of