Like many young runners-up, Bangladesh took the leap at the next time of asking. It wasn't without stumbles, as they largely wasted the 170 run partnership between Tamin Iqbal (104) and Mominul Haque (66) in being bowled out for 220 to Woakes (3/30), Stokes (2/13) and Ali (5/57). But they have the self-belief now that they can match England, and in Mehedi (6/82) a spinner who can exploit weak techniques and turning pitches. Bangladesh lack ruthlessness. Rashid and Woakes rescued England, getting them from 8/144 to 244, a significant deficit turned into a small lead. But it wasn't a big lead, and for England, the repetitiveness of lower-order rescues is more worrying than comforting.
The target of 273 they set England was slightly easier than the one Bangladesh just failed to meet the previous week, and ought to have been bigger. Their habit of losing wickets on the last ball of the day and session, or to apalling shots, speaks to a mental lapse that will be improved with more cricket, but also needs constant self-assessment. When Duckett and Cook cruised to 0/100 the game was firmly in England's favour. Unfortunately for the English, a familiar weakness against turn and the fragile top-order reasserted itself. 2/124 became 5/127, and when Stokes was bowled by Shakib (so often a lone defender, now able to apply the killer blows) with 112 still required it was only a question of when, rather than if Bangladesh would win.
In a decent championship model we'd look at this result and wonder whether Bangladesh could qualify for the next round. Instead England look to India, with no little fear, and Bangladesh ahead to a patchy schedule of one-off tests and short tours. "Test" cricket, for so long a test of a nations' ability against England, remains so in many quarters. Bangladesh just passed theirs.
One of the notable aspects of the West Indies' series against India was that the young players performed well at times, just inconsistently (as young players are wont to do). Both that promise and those performances carried through to this series. Brathwaite has 37 tests behind him, enough for many to cast judgement, but he is still only 23, perhaps a few years from his best. If this test is any indication that bets may be very fine indeed. Unbeaten innings of 142 (carrying his bat) and 60 (negotiating a tricky chase) showed rare talent and skill. Gabriel, Holder and Bishoo, who all looked to have more ability than their figures suggest took the wickets, and Dowrich (just 25 himself) put down his own marker with 47 and 60*.
Pakistan won't be entirely upset with the loss as it was relatively close and they got contributions from numerous players. But as with their loss to Zimbabwe three years ago, those contributions fall short of what was required. They let the lower-middle order of the West Indies score valuable runs, and they tamely surrendered themselves. As with Bangladesh's win, the absence of a broader context beyond rankings may have affected their motivation to win a dead test match. With another five tests to play until January, Pakistan may increasingly find both motivation and energy lapsing. Fortunately, as far as rankings go, England's slip means they remain in third.
But for a couple of umpiring errors Zimbabwe might almost have been the third team to defy expectations as they took this match into the final hour. What they didn't do was keep it closely fought. Perera and Tharanga each scored 110 and Silva 94 in a total of 537. Cremer (102*) and Moor (79) combined to drag Zimbabwe past the follow-on when it looked dire at 6/139 but it was largely rain that prevented the early declaration and a more comfortable victory.
Cremer, again held up the Sri Lankan attack, and in batting out 90 overs in each innings they forced Sri Lanka to work. The pitch, sluggish and low helps with that, but Sri Lanka are better equipped than most to play on such a surface. They creep closer to New Zealand in the rankings, with plenty of opportunities to switch places in the coming months.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don`t play each other.
Cricket - Ratings - Test 6th November, 2016 18:53:02 [#]