Forty-three all-out. How did that happen? How does Bangladesh explain being dismissed for such a paltry score? How do they explain lasting only 112 deliveries, the second fewest in Test history? Kemar Roach, 5/8, was the main destroyer but they hardly seemed to have a clue against the pace and bounce of the entire West Indies pace attack.
And if that wasn’t enough, they were almost just as wretched in their second innings, falling to 62/6 off the 18 overs they faced before stumps on day two. Those who thought their first innings humiliation was an anomaly were sorely mistaken, as the Bangladeshi batsmen emphasised upon their ineptness in challenging overseas conditions by capitulating once again. And to think that injury forced Roach from the attack during the second innings.
They fell for 144 in their second innings, and it required a spirited innings of 64 from Nurul Hasan on the third morning to get there. This time, the chief destroyer was Shannon Gabriel, who, after a wicketless first innings, bulldozed his way to 5/77, his third five-wicket haul in three Tests. Jason Holder, in support, took 3 wickets for just 30 runs and Miguel Cummins finished off the innings with 2/16.
The West Indies bowling was good throughout; the Bangladeshi batting, for the most part, ordinary. The wicket had some grass but in no way was it overly hazardous for batting. It bounced, but the bounce wasn’t alarming. The Dukes ball swung a bit, but that is to be expected and there was no exaggerated movement off the seam.
No one would dare claim that Bangladesh have the strongest batting unit in the game, but surely the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah are better than this. They are the ones tasked with getting the bulk of the runs for their team, yet they never looked like getting much and even West indies fast bowler Kemar Roach appeared more accomplished when it came his turn to bat.
The West Indies seamers were particularly impressive. As good as they were against Sri Lanka during the recently completed series, they were better against Bangladesh. Gabriel continued his menacing ways, bowling with pace and more accuracy than he had prior to this home season.
Holder really hit his strides during the day/night Sri Lanka game in Barbados and maintained his challenging line and mostly full length in Antigua. His late outswing is both beautiful and deadly, almost like Dale Steyn’s with the new ball, though the South African does it at a much higher velocity.
Miguel Cummins bowled so poorly during the Sri Lanka series that everyone — except the selectors, that is — was convinced he’d lose his place for the Bangladesh series. But he was persisted with and there was marked improvement in his bowling. He did return to his old habit of having a wicket nullified because he overstepped the bowling crease, but his accuracy was better and he was less reluctant to pitch the ball up.
The West Indies’ total of 404 proved more than adequate. Their top order, the source of much worry during the Sri Lanka series, made some runs this time with opener Kraigg Brathwaite compiling a patient 121, his seventh Test hundred.
And yet it has to be said that the Bangladeshi bowling was far from menacing. A little less than a year ago, they dismissed a good Australian batting team for 217 and 244. But that was at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on a surface facilitating turn. The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound required penetrative seam, and the visitors are lacking in that area.
Abu Jayed, 3/84 off 26.4 overs, showed capability on debut, hinting that he could be a vital member — along with a recovered Mustafizur Rahman perhaps — of a competent fast-bowling attack in the future. Their spin bowling is steady and will do damage on turning tracks. As things now stand, however, they are in no position to compete abroad with such an inadequate seam-bowling unit.
More cussedness at the crease is also required from the Bangladeshi batsmen. There was grass on the square and therefore assistance for the fast bowlers. The West Indies pacers welcomed the help and made life difficult for the visiting batsmen. Roach, who suffered a hamstring injury and might have to miss the second Test, was deadly against the left-handers.
Operating from round the wicket, he incessantly angled the ball in to the batsmen’s off-stump, only to move it ever so slightly away. Tamim, Mominul and Shakib were all dismissed by that kind of delivery and they will need to guard against it when facing not only Roach, but also Gabriel.
Nurul Hasan is 24 and in his second Test. His second-innings 64, made off 74 balls, showed that runs could be made in these conditions against these bowlers. Rubel Hossain, batting at 10, accompanied him for 55 runs, making 16 himself and surviving 32 deliveries. Together, they added slight respectability to an all-round depressing performance by the tourists.
The action now moves to Jamaica for the second Test beginning on 12 July and chances are that grass will be left on the Sabina Park pitch as well. Bangladesh will have to put up a better showing there.
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