Anyone familiar with Bangladesh cricket will think twice before calling them favourites in first Test against South Africa after they lost four vital wickets to score 179 runs in the rain-hit second day on Wednesday.
The Tigers collapsed from much better positions in the past to hand oppositions the advantage, a tendency which is partly responsible for their dismal record in Test cricket.
But with their new-found confidence following some outstanding results in limited-over cricket, they are now a completely different outfit, one that can take their chances against any opposition.
At least this is what they believe. Even the oppositions also believe it, despite being fully aware of their vulnerability in tight situations.
The Tigers came within the touching distance of South Africa’s first innings total of 248 runs, trailing them by just 69 runs at stumps, a deficit which they believe now can be wiped out without any fuss.
Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim is still at the crease unbeaten on 16 and he is being accompanied by Sakib al Hasan, who can bat with authority and they give the home side some realistic hope.
06If Mushfiq and Sakib can take Bangladesh something close to 400 runs, the game will turn completely to their way, said batsman Mahmudullah, Bangladesh’s top-scorer so far in the innings with 67.
‘I think 400 runs are still very much possible for us in the first innings,’ Mahmudllah said after the day’s play. ‘If we can do this the match is ours. All we need is another big partnership. I am hopeful because we have still got Mushfiq and Sakib at the crease.’
South Africa’s bowling coach Charl Langeveldt had no hesitation to admit that the game is lurking 60 percent towards Bangladesh already, but Mahmudullah claimed that they are even in a better position than it has been perceived by the opposition.
‘It would have been nice if we were able to take the lead today,’ said Mahmudullah as rain forced an early stumps with 25 overs left on the second day. ‘A lot of things depend on first innings. It will determine whether we are in driving seat or on back foot.
‘The good thing is that at present we are in a comfortable position. If we can take a big lead in the first innings they will be under pressure.
I think we have 60 per cent chance of winning this match at the moment. It could be even 65-35 percent in our favour. We have got a long batting line up. Usually we don’t get this kind of opportunities, so we are determined to take our chance.’
Some of Bangladesh’s confidence came from the way they handled South African pacers on the second day, frustrating their pace trio Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander for a long period.
It took the South African pacers 67 overs to make their mark when Philander trapped Mahmudullah in front. For a team vulnerable against quality pace bowling this was no mean an achievement for Bangladesh.
‘Pace is something which always matters,’ said Mahmudullah. We faced some really quick bowlers in Pakistan Test. South African bowlers were also very quick, especially Steyn, who can swing the ball both ways. Philander is also the same. So it was really good experience for us.’
-With New Age input