Bangladesh kept a firm grip on the first Test against the West Indies on Friday, leading by 218 runs with seven second-innings wickets still in hand at Chattogram.

West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, has targeted forming crucial partnerships as the team continues its pursuit of Bangladesh’s first innings total when play resumes on day 3.

The opening batsman has led by example for far, as he dug in for a patient 49 of 81 balls to anchor the early chase of Bangladesh’s first innings score of 430.

In terms of building partnerships, however, the team has already had some early wobbles with John Campbell (3) and Shayne Moseley (2) being sent back to the pavilion early.  Both were dismissed by Mustafizur Rahman.

Brathwaite will no doubt be hoping that Nkrumah Bonner, who had a solid showing in the three-day warm-up match against the Bangladesh Cricket Board XI, will be part of the first significant partnership of the innings.  Bonner has so far stroked a watchful 17 from 58 balls.

“It’s key to get runs on the board.  We did well getting to 70-odd for two and we just have to look to build partnerships tomorrow,” Brathwaite said at the end of play.

“I’m looking for a big first innings, which will be crucial, a big first-innings total on the board,” he added.

The batsman believes the team should be aided by a pitch that is good for batting, which he expects to hold up.

“I thought it (pitch) played well today.  Not much spin, some balls did spin but the bounce is quite true, it’s not too low.  I think it will hold up for the next day, day and a half and possibly, day four, day five, it will start to wear a little bit,” he added.

 

Bangladesh are in a commanding position at stumps of the second day of the first Test against the West Indies as Mehidy Hasan Miraz scored his maiden Test century to help steer the home side to 430 all out at Chattogram. At the end of play, the West Indies were 75 for 2 still 355 runs behind.

With Bangladesh resuming from their overnight 242 for 5, with Shakib Al Hasan on 39 and Liton Bas on 34, the West Indies had an early breakthrough when Warrican, 3 for 58 overnight, bowled Das for 38 to have the home side 248 for 6.

However, the visitors were made to toil as Mehidy Hasan Miraz scored his first Test century while featuring in three partnerships that spurred a lower-order rally that gradually pushed his side into the ascendancy.

Mehidy put on 67 with Shakib Al Hasan (68) for the seventh wicket, 44 with Taijul Islam (18) for the eighth and then 57 with Nayeem Hasan (42) for the ninth before finally losing his wicket to Rahkeem Cornwall for 103.

The West Indies were made to pay for dropping him twice, on 24 and then on 85. He was first let off the hook by debutant Shayne Moseley who put him down at silly mid-off despite having two chances to hold on. The second chance was spilt by Cornwall at slip off the bowling of Nkrumah Bonner.

Warrican ended with figures of 4 for 133 while Cornwall had 2 for 114. There was a wicket each for Bonner, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel.

In reply, the West Indies found batting difficult against the swing and accuracy of fast-medium bowler Mustafizur Rahman who trapped John Campbell (3) and Shayne Moseley (2) lbw as the visitors slumped to 24 for 2.

However, Captain Kraigg Brathwaite survived a few anxious moments to get to the close unbeaten on 49. Bonner is at the other end on 17.

West Indies left-arm spinner, Jomel Warrican, has credited discipline, accuracy, and strong field setting as crucial factors that enabled a three-wicket haul on day one of the first Test against Bangladesh, in Chittagong, on Tuesday.

At stumps, Warrican had claimed figures of the 3 for 58 as Bangladesh ended the day on 242 for 5.  Another wicket was claimed by pace bowler Kemar Roach with a run out accounting for the other.

The spinner could indeed have plenty of reason to delight in the field placing, and performance for that matter, as two of his wickets resulted from catches.  Firstly, John Campbell took a sharp catch at short midwicket after Mominul Haque lost some patience and failed to keep a lofted drive down.  The other was a brilliant catch at slip by Raheem Cornwall, after Mushfiqur Rahim attempted a defensive stroke that carried to the fielder.  In-between, the bowler ended the run of a dangerous looking Shadman Islam, when the batsman was given lbw just before tea.

“Being disciplined and accurate at the same time, as well as setting the right field,” Warrican responded when asked about the keys to his opening day success.

“I thought it best to bring them on the front foot as much as possible because when they play back they have a lot of time.  The more you bring them on the front foot is the more you ask questions,” he added.  

 

Left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican took three wickets but Bangladesh held a slight edge at stumps of day one of the first Test against the West Indies at Chattogram today.

West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, insists the team must be ready to take advantage of any rustiness on the part of the Bangladesh team but insists the hosts are firm favourites heading into the series.

The Bangladesh team has not played a Test since February when they faced Zimbabwe at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.  The West Indies has in the meantime, played two-Test series against England and then New Zealand.

Relying on that statistic would, however, be slightly misleading as several of the West Indies' first-team players opted out of the tour, leaving the unit to rely on more inexperienced players for the tour.  In such circumstances and Bangladesh’s home record, Simmons is skeptical of there being any advantage but hopes the team will be able to captilise once there is.

“There could be a little bit of vulnerability early in the Test because they haven’t played any international Test cricket for a year now and getting back into it might expose some vulnerability early on," Simmons told members of the media.

“I’m sure that, that would be taken care of because they have a fairly experienced team, with the likes of Tamim and Shakib.  The experience is there so it might not last too long, but if it does happen, we have to take that opportunity and seize on it,” he added.

“Bangladesh will always have the edge no matter who they are playing at home.  They are a very strong side when they play at home.  So, they will always have the edge even when they haven’t played any cricket for a year.”

Bangladesh won the previous series, which consisted of three ODI matches, against the West Indies 3-0.

 

 

 

Cricket West Indies (CWI) president, Ricky Skerritt, is adamant that the recent refusal by senior players to take part in the ongoing tour of Bangladesh and the subsequent results must be framed within the broader context of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regional team was on the wrong side of a 3-0 mauling, at the hands of Bangladesh, in a lopsided series that showed a tremendous gulf in quality between the two teams.

The result could not have been entirely unexpected, as a full-strength Bangladesh comfortably beat a full-strength West Indies team in 2019.  The Jason-Mohammed team that took the field last week had at least eight players making their international debut.

Skerritt’s administration has made it clear that players who opt out of tours during the pandemic will not be punished, believes that the threat that the disease poses to the players must be acknowledged.

“We have to deal with the reality that players are facing a tremendously stressful decision about their careers and whether they participate in cricket under risky situations; even though cricket West Indies and other boards are doing everything possible to minimize the risk,” Skerritt told the Mason and Guest radio show.

“What do you do to get the best players on the park, when many of the best players are reluctant to travel and choose not to play?  Are you going to punish them? Are you going to say if you don’t play then you don’t play again ever, then you lose them forever?”

"I listen to some of the discussion’s about COVID and I wonder if we believe that COVID only affects us individually and we should be fearful, but players and others shouldn’t.  So what has happened with this particular tour and the two tours before, during COVID is that you could not get all of your best players on tour at the same time.”

 

West Indies coach Phil Simmons hopes the relative experience of the Test team, compared to the One Day International (ODI) unit, will make for a more competitive showing against Bangladesh when the series bowls off next week.

World-class spinner Shakib Al Hasan and a full-strength Bangladesh made short work of the regional team in a lopsided 3-0 sweep of the ODI series last week.  The Windies went into the series without several of its regular first-team players who pulled out of the tour for various reasons.

The ODI team, which was captained by Jason Mohammed, was the hardest hit, however, with at least eight players making their international team debut.  With more proven campaigners like bowlers Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel, and batsmen Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood, the Test team should be in better shape, in terms of experience in any case.

“It’s a big difference, we may have one, maybe two debutants for this Test series, whereas we had 10 for the ODI series.  So, it’s a huge difference,” Simmons said.

“The good thing is that those guys have been down here before.  On the last tour down here, Kraigg (Brathwaite) was captain, and Shannon and Roach were here.  So, it’s good to have that kind of experience going into a Test series,” he added.

The West will play Bangladesh in a two-Test series, which begins on February 2nd.  The second Test will take place between February 10th to 15th.

 

In-form West Indies middle-order batsman, Jermaine Blackwood, has credited brief advice received from top-class India batsman Virat Kohli as helpful in changing his mindset towards scoring runs.

The 29-year-old scored his first century against England in 2015, a plucky 112 unbeaten in a draw in Antigua.  Following that impressive achievement, however, Blackwood seemed unable to cross the double-digit threshold.  In fact, before finally breaking the streak with 104 against New Zealand, in December, Blackwood had managed to score 10 half-centuries in-between but always fell short of a triple-digit score.

Included in that number were some figures frustratingly well clear of the 50 mark, but falling just short of the 100 mark, when for all intents and purposed the batsman seemed well set to do so.  The tally includes three scores in the 90s.  He scored 92 against Sri Lanka, in Galle, in 2015; 95 against Pakistan, in Abu Dhabi, in 2016, and 95 against England, in Southampton, in July of last year.  Prior to that, Blackwood also registered 85 against England, in Bridgetown, in May 2015.  During India’s tour of the West Indies, Blackwood took the opportunity to seek the advice of run-machine Kohli when the two briefly interacted off the pitch.

“I just asked him how come all the time I score so many half-centuries and just one century, and he just replied, ‘What did you do when you scored the century? How many deliveries did you face?’ I said I faced 212, and he said that’s it, once you can bat some balls you will score runs,” Blackwood recalled.

“I took a lot from that and I’ve always told myself, after that conversation, once I can bat over 200 balls or 300, I’m going to score runs.  Once I’m there, the way I bat, I’m going to score runs regardless of who I’m playing against or where I’m playing.”

West Indies fast bowler, Kemar Roach, insists he is ready for the challenge of trying to take wickets on Bangladesh pitches, despite the surfaces being more suited to spin-bowling.

Despite the presence of several spinners in the squad, the 32-year-old is expected to lead the West Indies bowling line-up, along with fellow pace bowlers Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph.  If the dominance of spinners in the One Day International series, on pitches that offered very little assistance to pace bowlers, is anything to go by they will certainly have their work cut out.

Having been in Bangladesh on two prior Test series, Roach would know first-hand what it takes to succeed on spin-friendly terrain.

In 2011, he claimed 0 for 52 off 9 overs and 1 for 49 off 13.2 overs in the second Test of the series.  When he returned in 2018, he claimed 1 for 74 off 18 overs in the first Test and 2 for 61 in 25 overs as Bangladesh made a mammoth 500 in the second Test.

“It mostly favours the spinners but I think there is enough there for fast bowlers to get something as well.  It’s just about having your plans, executing, and being disciplined,” Roach told members of the media via a press conference from Bangladesh on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be tough, we know we have to bowl a lot more overs to get our rewards but once you are willing to put the work in you can get some rewards over here…so it’s going to be tough but I’m up for the fight.”

The Windies have had recent success with pace bowling in Bangladesh with Tino Best claiming a five-for in 2012 and Fidel Edwards claiming 8 wickets in the 2011 series.

 

West Indies spinner, Rahkeem Cornwall, believes the unusually long preparation time before the start of the Bangladesh Test series has been beneficial for players needing to get used to ‘difficult’ conditions.

The regional team arrived in Bangladesh on January 10 and was required to quarantine for 7 days based on the country’s COVID-19 protocols.  Since clearing that hurdle, however, the Test team has been free to train and will not start the series until February 1.

The Asian team is known for being particularly difficult to beat on their home turf and easily dispatched the West Indies 2-0 on their last visit in 2018.  One of those advantages is said to be the team’s pitches.

“It has helped (extra time) you have to adapt to these conditions. These conditions are difficult to play in, so the more time we get to understand the conditions is the better it is for us,” Cornwall said.

“It spins a bit more here.  It is always going to be drier than the Caribbean.  So, we just have to adapt to it and play to the best of our ability,” he added.

The inexperienced West Indies team will be hoping for a better showing than in the recently concluded One Day International (ODI) series where the team was summarily swept aside 3-0.  The ODI batting line-up found the top class Bangladesh spinners on the surfaces a difficult task to cope with.   

Captain Jason Mohammed believes the West Indies substitutes sent to tour Bangladesh were simply not up to the task as the visitors suffered a 120-run loss at Chattogram today. It was their third straight loss in the three-match series.

West Indies head coach, Phil Simmons, insists the upcoming Test series against Bangladesh will be a chance for inexperienced players to prove their mettle by doing well for the short-handed team.

If the play in the One Day Internationals (ODIs) is anything to go by, the regional team could have plenty of cause for concern as they have been unable to compete with Bangladesh to date.  In two matches so far, in which they batted first, the team was bowled out for 122 and 149 before Bangladesh easily chased down the target.

Facing off against the Asians next week, in what could be considered their weakest format, and with just as many inexperienced players in the line-up, it is likely to be a stern challenge.  Simmons sees an opportunity.

“It’s chance that guys get to show what they can do at this level.  It’s a chance for them to put their names in the hat for 2023 and put their names in the hat for Sri Lanka and later this year.  So, it’s good to see what people are made of,” Simmons said.

The coach predicts the four-day contests will be good for the team, as it should prove to be a test of strength.

“Playing in these conditions, playing in the environment that we are in and everything, you have to be strong.  You have to get stronger than just playing a cricket match.  So, you will see who are the strong ones and who leads from the front.  Let’s see who takes up the challenge and who comes out best in the two-Test matches.”

West Indies stand-captain, Jason Mohammed, admits the team’s inability to cope with top-class spinners has been the primary reason it has been unable to post higher totals.

Batting first in both ODIs played to date, being inserted to bat in the first and choosing to bat first in the second, the regional team fell below 150 runs on both occasions.  The stifling spin bowling of Mehidy Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan proved to be a major contributing factor in keeping the West Indies batsmen in straitjackets on both occasions.

Al Hasan claimed a jaw-dropping 4 for 8 runs in the first ODI, with an extraordinary miserly economy rate of 1.09 as the West Indies were restricted to 122.  In the second, it was Mehidy who applied the restraints, claiming 4 for 25 with an economy rate of 2.59.  The West Indies were restricted to 148 before Bangladesh easily chased down the target.

“They are two quality spinners, especially Shakib, one of the best in the world and Mehidy has been playing very well for Bangladesh as well,” Mohammed said of facing off against the pair.

“They have been good, and we haven’t been able to manage them, that’s why we have been getting those low totals.”

Rovman Powell was the team’s top scorer with 41 in the second ODI, while Kyle Mayers led the way with 40 in the first ODI.  The West Indies and Bangladesh will face off for the final ODI on Monday at 12:30 am.

 

Bangladesh took an unassailable 2-0 lead following their seven-wicket win over West Indies in Dhaka this morning.

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