Tigers prevail in Chattogram rollercoaster
Two inherently flawed teams each putting in wildly uneven performances over two and a half days, and a pitch that tested participants to the limit all combined to produce an engrossing Test that ended with a 64-run win for Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram yesterday.
Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam bagged six wickets for 33 runs -- his fourth five-wicket haul in three matches -- to help bowl West Indies out for 139 halfway through the second session after Bangladesh were bowled out for 125 in the morning, setting the visitors a target of 204.
Apart from the win being Bangladesh's first against West Indies on home soil and the first against the Caribbean outfit since 2009, history was made by Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan when he picked up the first wicket by having Kieran Powell stumped. It made him the fastest player in Test history to achieve the double of 200 Test wickets and 3,000 Test runs.
In contrast to Shakib's achievement, however, there is much to improve upon for Bangladesh despite the winning result.
On Monday, the second day of the first Test ended with Bangladesh pulling West Indies back to parity as the hosts slipped to 55 for five in their second innings after Mominul Haque's first-innings century and debutant Nayeem Hasan's five-for had given them a precious 78-run lead on a difficult wicket.
The hosts' ineptitude continued on the third morning yesterday as, after the addition of just 14 runs, they lost Mushfiqur Rahim -- who appeared jittery in his rash employment of sweeps and reverse sweeps on a pitch with dual bounce -- for 19 when he was bowled by an incoming delivery from pacer Shannon Gabriel.
Mehedi Hasan Miraz was caught behind off Devendra Bishoo for 19, and the result might have been different if not for a 46-ball 31 from Mahmudullah Riyad, who came in at number eight.
However, he too departed in the vein of his fellow specialist batsmen, playing an inappropriate lap sweep that just looped the ball to first slip off Bishoo. Before that Bishoo also had Nayeem caught behind, and after Mahmudullah's departure, had a desperate Taijul caught at long on to end the innings and finish with four wickets for 26 runs.
West Indies then matched Bangladesh's batting ineptitude as they slipped to 11 for four. Shakib followed his dismissal of Powell in the third over by having Shai Hope caught behind by keeper Mushfiqur in the fifth. Without a run being added, Taijul then trapped skipper Kraigg Brathwaite with a lethal arm ball in the following over, which also yielded the wicket of Roston Chase in the same fashion.
Shimron Hetmyer then went hell for leather in a 19-ball 27 that included three fours and a six, before playing one shot too many off off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz to be caught at long off and leave the team on 44 for five.
Taijul then completed his five-wicket haul by dispatching Shane Dowrich, Bishoo and Kemar Roach as West Indies lurched to 75 for eight.
A ninth-wicket partnership of 63 between Jomel Warrican and Sunil Ambris served to reduce the margin of defeat before Mehedi had Warrican caught by Shakib in the 35th over for 42.
Victory was sealed in the next over by Mehedi when Sunil Ambris was adjudged to be caught behind for 43. As the Tigers ripped out the stumps in celebration, replays showed that the ball did not take the edge, but Chase and Dowrich had used up both of West Indies' unsuccessful reviews.
"Talking about big turning points, our first innings total  was very important," Shakib said after the match. "Although I think we could've done a bit better in the second innings, we all knew that it can happen on such a wicket. We knew when we saw the wicket that the match would not be a high-scoring one."
It however was not a wicket that warranted a score of 125 all out, but it sets up an intriguing series finale between two faltering sides from November 30 in Dhaka. It may not feature cricket of the highest standard, but it promises a lot of excitement if the first Test was anything to go by.