Kieron Pollard and Denesh Ramdin fought to bring West Indies out of trouble and secured a tense victory,
the absence of which would have raised questions over whether the sudden departure of the coach Ottis Gibson on the eve of the series had adversely impacted the side. Their counterattacking stand of 145 forced Bangladesh to give up yet another great match-winning position, in the first ODI in Grenada.
For nearly an hour into West Indies’ innings, the happenings on the field mirrored the apparent confusion off it. When Pollard joined Ramdin at the crease at 34 for 5 in 13.1 overs, in pursuit of 218, the chase was on its last legs. They produced two timely and well-paced innings.
Ramdin did the early running, ensuring building blocks were put in place after the rot that ate up half the batting order. He ran hard, found gaps regularly and saw to it that Pollard was not deprived of the strike. It was key that Pollard finds his groove, and 16 balls into the partnership, he struck a straight six off Al-Amin Hossain.
Boundaries started to flow as Pollard began to swing freely, but his head remained so still as his arms, hip and feet worked fluidly to smash deliveries into the stands. West Indies passed 100 in the 26th over and Pollard got to 50 off 39 balls.
By the time Ramdin brought up his half-century in the 31st over, Bangladesh had all but given up. A small rain delay broke the flow of the partnership, but despite Ramdin’s dismissal for 74 off 76 balls shortly after the resumption, Pollard thundered on a little longer.
He was dismissed for 89 off 70 balls in the 38th over, with West Indies 17 away from the target, via a marvelous running catch from Mahmudullah to give Al-Amin his fourth wicket. The tail, however, ensured their good work with the ball was not undone.
Knowing they did not posses the power of Pollard, Bangladesh had built their total with a different approach. Their challenge to West Indies centred around how long Anamul Haque could stay focused in the middle.
After a restrained but encouraging start by Tamim Iqbal, the innings meandered for a considerable period, and though it regained some momentum, it never really hit the right pitch. Following a hard-earned opening stand of 41, Tamim pulled a catch to short midwicket, after which Imrul Kayes and Anamul were involved in a collision that led to Kayes being run out.
The middle-order batsmen played sensibly before getting out to soft dismissals and at 141 for 5, Bangladesh were poised to unravel. Nasir Hossain and Anamul then scrapped to add 53 for the sixth wicket, somehow surviving
against Sunil Narine, who zipped deliveries in and out and was on a roll during the Powerplay.
West Indies bowled haphazardly for most parts except when Narine was in the attack, but he went wicketless while Dwayne Bravo picked up four with mostly ordinary deliveries. Anamul did not look assured, but even when he is punishing bowlers, he seems always to give a chance. He survived a close lbw appeal in the 36th over, but he looked unflustered by the happenings at the other end or out of Narine’s hand.
In the nineties Anamul lifted one towards midwicket, where he was dropped by Kirk Edwards, and soon celebrated his century with a fierce scream. Bangladesh began their defence of 217 with consecutive maidens from Sohag Gazi and Mashrafe Mortaza, and they continued to keep Chris Gayle and Kirk Edwards quiet. The chase had gone nowhere after five overs and Gayle’s frustration boiled over. He was caught at third man off a top edge.
Mushfiqur then took two sharp catches. He dived to his left to snatch a steer from Darren Bravo and then moved slightly forward to grab Lendl Simmons and give Al-Amin his second wicket. Edwards had swiped and was bowled by Mahmudullah and by the 14th over West Indies had also lost their captain to a loose pull that was caught at deep square leg.
That was the cue for the Ramdin-Pollard show. They did not start flashily but Pollard began to knock a few big ones, while Ramdin rotated strike, and Bangladesh wilted. There wasn’t much wrong with Mushfiqur’s rotation of bowlers as he tried to pick up the vital sixth wicket. His fields, however, were too standard and he hardly attacked the batsmen.
Because the first five wickets had come with almost similar fields for all bowlers, Mushfiqur did not see many reasons to change things. It has never been his style. Al-Amin conceding so much after taking three quick wickets didn’t help. Mashrafe Mortaza and Sohag Gazi bowled superbly early on but were ineffective in their second spells.
Taskin Ahmed hasn’t played enough for anyone to think of judging him on his loose lines, while the allrounders Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain didn’t make much of an impact. The upshot was that West Indies were able to pull off an escape act.
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