The last time Jason Holder played at Sabina Park (prior to this last game, of course) was against Pakistan in April 2017. The West Indies lost that game badly. Batting first, the home side made 286 in the first innings and 152 in the second, while the visitors were dismissed for 407 in their first innings and were 36/3 in their second innings when victory came on the fifth day.
Holder toiled manfully in that game. Yet for all his hard work during Pakistan's first turn to bat — 30 overs worth — he received very little compensation. He managed a single wicket, that of opener Ahmed Shehzad, LBW for 31 during a long 10-over spell. He deserved more.
A year and two months later, it is the Bangladeshis who just completed the second game of their two-Test series at Jamaica's famous venue. And it turns out that things didn't go as well for them as it did for the Pakistan side.
With Bangladesh dismissed for 149 and 168, the West Indies came away the easy winners, by all of 166 runs in just three days.
Holder earned a bagful of wickets on this occasion. In fact, the 11 scalps he secured was his richest haul ever, beating out the nine he collected two games prior.
The explanation that will likely come quickest to mind for the difference in result by Holder and by the West Indies is the relative quality of the two touring teams. The Pakistanis, it is true, are a more formidable team with a more formidable batting line-up. They came with the likes of Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad, both very capable run-scorers, and Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, two greats of the game.
And yet there is significant talent in the Bangladesh's batting as well. Tamim Iqbal, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim are all seasoned campaigners with fairly reasonable records. They might have performed poorly this series but they are usually no pushovers.
One unmistakable difference has been the bowling of Jason Holder. Lately, the tall Barbadian seems to have discovered himself afresh. He was diligent against Pakistan a year or so ago, he gave his all. But if he were an honest workman, sweating away with unsharpened tools then, he is now becoming a skilled craftsman possessing some of the best tools of the trade. He is most certainly a better bowler than he was then.
With Holder increasing his level of menace, the West Indies attack seems to be gaining steam. Shannon Gabriel, the spearhead, has improved beyond measure. His pace and accuracy will prove problematic to even the world's best batsmen. So as long as he is not struck down by injury or loss of form, the Caribbean side can rejoice in the knowledge that it has at least one significant wicket-taking threat within its ranks. It has not had many of those lately.
Kemar Roach, who dismantled Bangladesh's batting in the first innings of the first Test, was unfortunately injured for this game. And yet he wasn't missed. Keemo Paul, his replacement, came into the side for his debut Test and bowled well. And when you consider that the very promising Alzarri Joseph is waiting in the wings, the West Indies has the makings of a very good seam attack. They will want Roach fit and ready for the more difficult challenges to come, however, as he is an important and reliable member of their bowling unit.
It is still in the West Indies' batting that most of their problems lie. Devon Smith, Shai Hope, Kieran Powell and Roston Chase are simply not getting enough runs. Shimron Hetmyer came in for the second Test and got an impressive 86 in the first innings. He is an exciting, young talent, plays spin well and has a fondness for playing all the shots. He should not be left out again, especially since some of his more experienced colleagues have not been as productive as they need to be, despite being afforded more than ample opportunities.
The home side hardly worked up a sweat this series and should celebrate their creditable performance. But they can't afford to celebrate for too long because they have parts to fix before it can be said that they are an efficiently operating unit. The good news is that their deficiencies are not insurmountable. There are some replacements that can be fitted immediately. And though others will take some time to identify and develop, things appear to be looking up.
The Bangladesh side, on the other hand, have been woeful. 168 was their highest score during the two matches. They were dismissed for 43 in Antigua. The West Indies bowlers did well, but they're not that good.
As expected, Shakib, on occasion exhibited class with both bat and ball. Mehidy Hasan Miraz also showed that he can be a wily operator, especially in helpful conditions. Beyond that there wasn't much.
In the absence of Mustafizur Rahman their seam bowling threat is almost non-existent. Abu Jayed acquitted himself well, capturing seven wickets in the series, but there is an urgent need to develop seam bowlers if they are to thrive abroad. As things now stand, it seems the only way they can win a Test against reasonably good opposition is for the likes of Shakib and Tamim and the rest of their batting to eke out some runs and have their spinners collar the opposition's batting on turning tracks at home.
Prior to this series Bangladesh were ranked higher than the West Indies. The West Indies just showed them which is the better team.
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