‘Underdog’ Victories Rejuvenate Faith in Test Cricket
With the culmination of India’s drab 3-0 drubbing of Sri Lanka, the widely debated proposal of relegating test cricket’s underachievers to a lower tier found new supporters once again. Little did the world know, that just two weeks later, the unfancied underachievers would respond – in style, to provide one of the most fascinating couple of days the cricketing world has ever seen.
By handing defeats to the participants of the most prestigious bilateral test series (read Ashes), West Indies and Bangladesh have achieved a lot more than just turning eyeballs towards themselves, they have succeeded in revitalising the belief that the longest format of the game is still the most unpredictable.
Coming off a disastrous outing in the first test at Edgbaston, where they lost 19 wickets on the third day to surrender an innings victory to England, the Windies scripted one of the most stunning comebacks in the second test at Headingley to register a five-wicket over the hosts, their first ever win on English soil in 17 years.
With his fluent twin tons, Shai Hope was the chief architect in instrumenting the win. Hope found an able partner in Kraigg Brathwaite, and the duo’s record breaking 246-run stand in a seemingly improbable fourth innings chase of 321 sealed the win for the ‘underdogs’. The bowling unit also came into its own, with Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach picking up four wickets apiece in the first innings. Though the dismal drops left a lot to be desired in the fielding department, Jason Holder’s side sure did show sparks of finally replicating the legendary side of the yesteryears. Root’s declaration in the second innings, though criticized, showed a heartening sign- that captains still played to win.
While cricket lovers were still revelling in the five-day fiesta from Leeds, the Bangladeshis, spearheaded by their premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan (10/153 & 89), were giving a tough time to the Aussies in a topsy-turvy contest at Mirpur. For a while, Bangladeshi fans have been saturated by stories of their team running strong oppositions close, it was time for the Tigers to grab the limelight in the longest format.
Pursuing 265, Australia found themselves in a comfortable position at 109 for two, mainly due to the 81-run stand between David Warner and Steve Smith. Post David Warner’s hard-fought 112 though, the Bangla spinners came into the party, skittling out the rest of the eight batsmen for just 86 runs, thus securing their first ever win against Australia and only their tenth overall win in 101 tests. Spinners dominated proceedings, picking up 19 of the 20 Aussie wickets. The vicious turn couldn’t be an excuse for Smith and co, Rahim’s Tigers had truly outplayed them.
Such wins make for epic stories that stay etched in people’s minds for years to come, reiterating that test cricket does not need ambassadors as long as it witnesses matches like these. What cricket lovers would love to see though, is a steady diet of Test matches among all the twelve test playing nations, and not just India, Australia, and England.
Edited by Pravin C
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