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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Spinners seal historic Bangladesh win

West Indies v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Kingstown, 5th day

Spinners seal historic Bangladesh win

July 13, 2009


Bangladesh 238 (Mortaza 39, Roach 3-46) and 345 (Tamim 128, Sammy 5-70) beat West Indies 307 (Phillips 94, Bernard 53, Mahmudullah 3-59) and 181 (Bernard 52, Mahmudullah 5-51, Shakib 3-39) by 95 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Shakib Al Hasan dented West Indies early in their chase, West Indies v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Kingstown, 5th day, July 13, 2009
Shakib Al Hasan, the stand-in captain, led from the front to hand Bangladesh a historic win

Four years and six months after their solitary Test win, Bangladesh sealed a historic second victory when they beat West Indies by 95 runs in St Vincent. Bangladesh's spin twins Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah weaved a tantalising web to shove West Indies to defeat. Spare a thought, though, for David Bernard who thwarted everything thrown at him for 134 balls to remain unbeaten on a fine 52. The win, as special it was, would come with an asterisk that this was a second-string West Indies team.

The champagne moment arrived at 4.40 pm local time when the stand-in captain Shakib nailed last man Tino Best in front with a dipping full toss with only ten overs left in the day. Best put up his bat as if to suggest he had edged it but the finger was up and the Bangladeshi fielders moved into a huddle of joy. A limping Mashrafe Mortaza hobbled to the middle to join in the celebrations.

It was an enthralling last couple of sessions in the beautiful Kingstown stadium ringed by sea. The cricket in nature was almost sub-continental in its elements. Spinners operated with several close-in men prowling near the batsmen waiting for a mistake, and an over-excited chirpy wicketkeeper, Mushfiqur Rahim, applying immense pressure on the batsmen and the umpires with his appeals and adding drama with his oohs and aahs. And when the seamers came on, it wasn't seam but reverse swing on view with the slinging Rubel Hossain and the grunting Shahadat Hossain trying their best to break through.

And the plot thickened in the last session, as Bernard found a willing partner in Nikita Miller, taking the minds back to Cardiff where England pulled off a great escape yesterday. But Mohammad Ashraful, who failed in both innings with the bat, stamped his presence in the game by removing Miller, who hung on his backfoot to defend stoutly for 54 balls, with one that straightened to get the edge. Mahmudullah returned to trap Ryan Austin and take out Kemar Roach before Shakib sealed the finish.

Until then, Bernard had proved to be a huge headache to the visitors as he stood solidly between them and history. His CV describes him as a stylish batsman but today he added grit to the existing grace. Even under tremendous pressure, he managed to bat almost elegantly, using his wrists skillfully to ride the turn and the bounce on the final-day's wicket. While the rest around him pushed hard at the ball, he played with soft hands and defended confidently. The contest between Shakib and him was high-quality, with the bowler shifting angles and trying everything in his arsenal - the left-arm breaks, the straighter one, the arm-ball, the round-arm delivery, over and round-the-wicket - but he was in a zone of his own. He moved forward or back, as the length demanded of him, using his wrists to drop the ball down short of the fielders. When the spin strangle got tighter, he had the courage to play the pressure-relieving strokes like the lofted drives and the cuts. He survived a close lbw shout in the 44th over against Shakib when a ball straightened to hit the pad in front of the stumps but that blemish apart, he was pretty solid.

However, Shakib and Mahmudullah ensured no other batsmen would deny them a slice of history. Shakib, hailed by the former Australian spinner Kerry O' Keefe as the "best finger spinner in the world", turned in a suffocating spell of left-arm spin to relentlessly force the pressure on West Indies. Shakib was slightly slow through the air in the first innings and couldn't pose too many problems on a slow track. However, today, he ripped it slightly quicker and immediately looked threatening. He varied his pace, even his angle, by lowering the arm on occasions, and, unsurprisingly, was the better of the two spinners, despite finishing with fewer wickets. He occasionally got the ball to straighten and slipped in a few with the arm.

In his first over Shakib harassed Omar Phillips before going past an attempted sweep to trap the batsman. Later, when Darren Sammy and Bernard added 37 in 11.3 overs, he struck, removing Sammy with a little bit of help from the batsman. Suddenly, against the run of play and just before tea, Sammy jumped out and sliced an ambitious square drive straight to point.

Even when he was not taking wickets, Shakib kept the pressure on and by keeping the batsmen on a leash, allowed Mahmudullah the space to wreak some damage. At one point in the chase Rahim shouted out to Mahmudullah: "Just keep hitting the right areas; the pitch would take care of the rest buddy". Mahmudullah did exactly that to pick up three quick wickets after lunch before he returned to take another two in the last session. He tightened the stranglehold by being accurate and making the batsmen play at every ball. It paid off and how.

Floyd Reifer, who was tormented by Shakib, showed himself to be a prime lbw candidate. Time and again, that front leg was pressed dangerously across but he managed to stab and jab his way out against Shakib. But Mahmudullah broke through finally with one that landed and straightened to strike that front leg. His next victim was Travis Dowlin, inducing a nervous prod straight to short-leg. Chadwick Walton walked in and started off with a second-ball six but was done in by one that kept low from Mahmudullah and was struck in front of the leg stump.

The slide had started with a moment of madness from the opener Dale Richards who added 20 runs in two overs before he had a brain freeze. He ambled out of the crease after being hit on the pad by Shahadat Hossain, all the while looking anxiously at the umpire for the verdict on the lbw appeal, which went in his favour, but was run out by a direct hit. That allowed Bangladesh the opening and they stormed through.

When the day started, it looked as if Bangladesh were dawdling with the bat and not showing enough urgency to either go for quick runs or leave many overs as possible to bowl out West Indies. However, Darren Sammy took a five-for to bowl them out and that proved a blessing in hindsight as it allowed their spinners enough time to bowl them to a euphoric triumph.

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