Bangladesh qualified for the knockout stages a World Cup for the first time © Getty Images
Bangladesh qualified for the knockout stages a World Cup for the first time © Getty Images

Every time Bangladesh beat a top side in the years gone by, one wondered whether it could propel them to greater heights in world cricket. Seldom did things pan out as romantically. While the agonising wait for a consistently competitive Bangladesh seems to have ceased in limited overs cricket, can they transmogrify into a force to reckon with in Test cricket? Ankur Dhawan considers the possibility

What essentially separates lower ranked and associate nations from quality Test sides is the fact that their raw youngsters enter the world stage as untested products. The pace of evolution of emerging talent is significantly sluggish in these countries. This is possibly because of the gulf between the level of cricket played domestically and the rigors of International cricket. Youngsters often enter the deep waters to learn basics that are considered a given at the highest level. However, Bangladesh have begun churning out readymade cricketers in the last couple of years which suggests that the level of Domestic cricket in the country has risen a few notches. Bangladesh vs Pakistan 2015, 3rd ODI at Dhaka, Preview

Bangladesh is experiencing its most lucrative period in terms of results on the field. A sterling performance in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was followed by two resounding wins against a new look Pakistan at home. Aside from a healthy wins column, the team looks better equipped than ever before, a cornerstone for a bright foreseeable future is in place. Javed Miandad calls losing ODI series to Bangladesh “lowest point” in Pakistan’s cricketing history

Although Bangladesh have tasted success at World Cups in the past, it has often been an archetypal case of a flash in the pan. Bangladesh of the yore invariably retreated into mediocrity. A high was generally followed by a gut-wrenching low. While the team competed occasionally at home, their away performances were shambolic. The quarter-final qualification in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 was especially heartening from the point of view that Bangladesh rarely tour either Australia or New Zealand. This time it was different, they have finally found their moorings. Mohammad Hafeez thanks PCB, Saqlain Mushtaq for helping him clear bowling test

Following a successful World Cup, Bangladesh have quickly brushed aside scepticism regarding their consistency by pocketing the three match One Day International (ODI) series against Pakistan. Amidst euphoric celebrations, Mashrafe Mortaza sounded a warning, categorically stating that Bangladesh aren’t going to take their foot off the pedal in the inconsequential third ODI and will endeavour to carry the form and the momentum into the Test series. The statement is symptomatic of a drastic change in attitude and intent.  It is also incontestably true that though Bangladesh are a vastly improved ODI outfit at home and away,  Test success remains elusive. But away success, albeit in the shorter format, is still a giant evolutionary step. Mashrafe Mortaza eyes whitewash following Bangladesh’s series win against Pakistan

One needs to only turn the clock back on the rise of Sri Lankan cricket in the 90s. Sri Lanka were equally slow coming off the block in International cricket. The baby steps were taken with sporadic ODI successes at home, before it spilled over into overseas campaigns. The win over South Africa in the 1992 World Cup was a turning point. It was then that the stepping stones for an unthinkable World Cup triumph in 1996 were laid. Following the World Cup success in 1996, Sri Lankan cricket transformed forever. Regular Test success followed suit at the turn of the century. Waqar Younis: Pakistan should change their defensive style of play

For once, Bangladesh have the countenance of a side that has most bases covered. Its nascent pace bowling arsenal is especially encouraging for a country that never had a dearth of spinners. Their young batsmen are adapting to International cricket quicker than previous generations and the old brigade is enjoying success that eluded them for most of their early days in international cricket. Tamim Iqbal, Shakib al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmadullah and captain Mashrafe Mortaza are regularly inscribing their names in the record books and are at the zenith of their power.

The core of the side is about the same age, which should stand them in good stead as they prepare for couple of years ahead, starting with the two-Test series against Pakistan, followed by high profile tours by South Africa, Australia, and the much coveted away series against India in 2016. These could be the defining years for Bangladesh in Test cricket, and a strong response could potentially change the dynamics of World Cricket altogether.

(Ankur Dhawan, heavily influenced by dystopian novels, naturally has about 59 conspiracy theories for every moment in the game of cricket. On finding a direct link between his head and the tip of his fingers, he also writes about it)