Sri Lanka skipper Rangana Herath (left) and Mushfiqur Rahim share the Joy Bangla Trophy after the visitors squared the Test series 1-1 after winning the final Test at the SSC

Bangladesh has made Sri Lanka think. This is after squaring the Test series 1-1 and showing in the second Test that they are steadily moving towards their goal which is to be a force in international cricket. Nothing can be more fulfilling than getting a hint that they are on the right track when it comes to cricket. And this hint came at a very special moment, when they were celebrating their 100th Test. Only three other countries have won their centenary Test before Bangladesh did.

Achievement in sport opens a door for the outside world to judge you. It makes analysts see where you are heading as a country and economically too. Bangladesh has turned itself from a lower-income country to a lower middle-income country. The country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made it to the aristocratic club of 100 global thinkers. Now, Chandika Hathurusinghe wants Bangladesh cricket to be where Sri Lanka was in this sport in 1996, two years from now.

Cricket is a sport which affords you the opportunity to rejoice in victory and learn from defeats. Bangladesh did more of the latter. Remember that the ‘Tigers’ took the best use of receiving Test status in 2000 to build their cricket base and image in sport. They didn’t squander this opportunity to be in the limelight of ICC-conducted tournaments like teams such as Kenya and Zimbabwe. Whitewashing Pakistan 3-0, beating India 2-1 and landing South Africa a 2-1 defeat in ODIs are some of their best cricket moments to date.

Now, they have a bunch of exciting players in the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Mushrafee Mortaza and Tamim Iqbal gelling well under the present skipper Mushfiqur Rahim. The team understands the language of energy and the values of small things like saving a run and avoiding a misfield. The standout feature among the present lot is that they can handle pressure in Test cricket. They also showed enough signs of being clever on the field. Their body language on the field now is all positive.

From a Sri Lankan perspective, it was a little surprising that they couldn’t defend 191 when Bangladesh were chasing this target for victory. The ‘Lions’ had defended low scores against Indian and Pakistan in earlier Test matches quite successfully. The host team’s performance in the second Test was summed up accurately when skipper Rangana Herath said that the defeat had nothing to do with complacency and that the team fielded and batted poorly.

Now, the two nations are drawing battle lines for the one-day series which will begin with the first encounter at Dambulla. Hosts Sri Lanka are rated sixth, one slot above Bangladesh who are slated in seventh place. The two teams will play three one-day internationals and two T20 Internationals before the series concludes a week before the islanders celebrate the New Year.
Teams like Bangladesh show us it’s not only cricket and that a country must have overall growth as well. Bangladesh is a nation that dreams big. At present, they are hoping to build a 142-storey Iconic Tower which, when completed, will be the tallest such structure in whole of South Asia. They also received the champions of the earth award in 2015 in recognition of carrying out far reaching initiatives in addressing problems including climate change. Naturally, a country’s achievements like these have a direct impact on sports.

Bangladesh has already qualified for the ICC Champions Trophy, happening this year in England and Wales. The country’s sports administrators spend excessively on cricket despite it not being their national sport. This just goes on to prove that the country’s National Sports Council has got its priorities right and knows why it should back a sport in which their country’s men are now capable of rubbing shoulders with most good teams in the world.
At one time, Bangladesh had enough of Asian brothers in the cricket scene to draw inspiration from. Now they remind these Asian giants if you’ve got talent and work hard at cricket, nothing is impossible.