Conquering New Zealand in Mount Maunganui

Bangladesh’s year in sports began with the miracle in Mount Maunganui.

After 36 defeats, Bangladesh men’s cricket team finally conquered New Zealand in New Zealand for the very first time, that too in Tests, the format where they are the most vulnerable.

The Test began on 1 January. The Tigers were without Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, so naturally, not much was expected from them against the reigning ICC World Test Champions.

But Mominul Haque’s team surpassed everyone’s expectations and scripted an upset, which according to many cricket analysts is the biggest in the storied history of the game.

Pacer Ebadot Hossain was the star of the match as it was his fiery spell on the fourth day after half-centuries from Mominul, Liton Das, Mahmudul Hasan Joy and Najmul Hossain Shanto in Bangladesh’s first innings that set up a landmark eight-wicket win over the Black Caps.

ODI series win in South Africa

After the conquest down under, the men’s cricket team went to South Africa and notched up another remarkable victory.

On 18 March, the Tigers won their first ever ODI against the Proteas in South Africa, defeating the hosts by 38 runs.

That win was enough to term the South Africa tour a success for Bangladesh. But on 23 March, in the third and final match of the 50-over series, the Tigers went one step further and sealed their maiden ODI series win against South Africa away from home.

Pacer Taskin Ahmed was the star performer for Bangladesh in that series, with eight wickets in those two wins.

Women’s team register maiden win in World Cups

In March this year, the Bangladesh women’s cricket team began their maiden 50-over World Cup campaign.

Nigar Sultana’s team didn’t head into the tournament with lofty dreams. Realistically, there were only two opponents Bangladesh could target for a win in the eight-team competition– West Indies and Pakistan.

Against the West Indies, Bangladesh lost by four runs in a nail-biter. However, against Pakistan, it was Bangladesh who ended up on the winning side.

Bangladesh posted 234-7, their highest total in a Women’s ODI, thanks to Fargana Hoque’s 71, Nigar’s 46 and Sharmin Akhter’s 44.

Captain Sidra Ameen’s 104 got Pakistan near the target but Fahima Khatun’s three-wicket haul helped Bangladesh seal a historic nine-run win.

The SAFF triumph

In September, came the most joyous moment in Bangladesh sports in this calendar year.

At the Dasarath Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu the likes of Sabina Khatun, Maria Manda, Sanjida Akhtar ran circles around their opponents with eye soothing football at the SAFF Women’s Championship.

Bangladesh won all three of their matches at the group-stage, thrashed Bhutan 8-0 in the semifinal to set up a final against hosts Nepal.

In the final, Krishna Rani Sarkar scored a brace and Shamsunnahar Junior scored once to help Bangladesh win 3-1 and lift their first ever women’s SAFF Championship title.

What happened after the triumph, was something the country’s sports hadn’t witnessed before.

The champion team arrived in Dhaka to a grand reception, with thousands flocking the airport to catch a glimpse of the golden girls. Then, the team got on an open top bus and paraded their trophy throughout Dhaka in a joyride that will be remembered forever.

Defeating India at home, again

After a lull in between, the men’s cricket team finished the year on a high note, defeating India 2-1 in a three-match ODI series.

A star-studded Indian team arrived in Dhaka for a bilateral series after seven years at a time when the entire country was obsessing over the FIFA World Cup.

The Bangladesh team then forced the countrymen to take interest to the series by defeating India in the first ODI by one wicket, thanks to a remarkable unbeaten 38 from Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s bat.

Miraz didn’t stop there, as in the following match he brought up his maiden ODI century to rescue Bangladesh from 69-6 and claimed a couple of wickets, which ensured a series winning five-run win for the hosts.