An inexperienced West Indies top order rose to the occasion to trigger a strong comeback in
Mirpur after Bangladesh had enjoyed the better of the drawn first Test in Chittagong. On a track that promised plenty of runs and just as much discouragement for the bowlers the trio of Kieran Powell, Kraigg Brathwaite and Kirk Edwards struck half-centuries to lay the foundation for a substantial first-innings score. But the performance was undermined, somewhat, when Bangladesh grabbed three wickets in the final session to give themselves hope of thwarting a West Indian attempt to bat them out of the Test.
It didn’t take long for the Bangladesh bowlers to discover that there was no swing, hardly any movement off the pitch and not much turn. It didn’t help that the hosts were also missing Elias Sunny, who grabbed seven wickets on debut in the opening Test on a supportive pitch, due to a stomach upset. The attacking fields quickly grew defensive, spin was introduced as early as the sixth over and opportunities created were largely a result of the batsmen’s own misjudgement. The West Indies approach was cautious for much of the day, largely devoid of risks and reliant on quiet accumulation.
A back injury to Lendl Simmons meant a game for Powell, and he, along with Brathwaite, shrugged off some early moments of discomfort to bat out an entire session with assuredness and solidity. Both were just a Test old before this game but capitalised on a flat track to help themselves to individual landmarks that should only boost their future Test prospects. There was little room for error on the part of the seamers early on and the pair was prompt to dispatch any bad balls that came its way. Rubel Hossain and Shahadat Hossain were often guilty of bowling too short, and kept providing periodic openings for the batsmen to break free.
Brathwaite was also at ease when the ball was pitched up. He drove Shahadat through the covers and past mid-on, worked the strike by clipping the ball through the leg side and later slashed him through point. He’d been a little vulnerable against Rubel, who persisted with an off-stump line against him and should have had him when he cut one just wide of gully before lunch. He finally had his man, who chased a slightly wide delivery once too often, caught on 50.
At the other end, Powell looked more fluent. His shots lack flourish but the stand-out feature of his batting is his timing. His maiden half-century was laced with languid punches and drives through the off side with a minimum of effort and unlike Brathwaite, who was restrained against spin, Powell was more authoritative in his treatment of the slower bowlers. He got going, pulling Shahadat through square leg before driving a meaty full toss, stood tall to crack the ball through the gaps on the off side and reached forward to drive the spinners when they pitched up. He looked good for much more than 72 – after adding 100 with Brathwaite and 55 with Edwards – but was bowled playing inside the line to debutant left-arm spinner Suhrawadi Shuvo.
Edwards had been scratchy in Chittagong but was at greater ease against the minimal turn and made a committed effort to use his feet, get to the pitch and play through the line. He collected plenty of runs, driving through mid-on, when the slow bowlers offered flight and even stepped out to clear the in-field on one occasion. Like the others, he was more confident against pace. Rubel was pulled for successive fours, Shahadat clipped through fine leg. Shahadat was taken for runs by Marlon Samuels as well, after Bangladesh fought back post tea.
West Indies had been going along well at 180 for 2, Darren Bravo having settled in with a couple of boundaries. But like Powell he too misread a straighter one, and was trapped lbw by offspinner Nasir Hossain who kept the batsmen in
check through his round-the-wicket line. Among the spinners, he managed to turn the ball the most and got some extra bite with the second new ball that was enough to induce an edge from Shivnarine Chanderpaul that was feathered to the keeper. Nightwatchman Kemar Roach had no answer to an arm ball from Shakib Al Hasan two overs later, and the two quick wickets just prior to stumps somewhat undermined a far-improved West Indies batting effort.
Scores: West Indies 253 for 5 (Powell 72, Edwards 71*, Nasir 2-31) v Bangladesh.
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