A warm-up match ahead of an international series does not routinely garner a lot of attention, but West Indies' one-day tune-up against BCB XI yesterday was a special case as two of Bangladesh's most beloved cricketers -- opener Tamim Iqbal and ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza -- made the trek down to BKSP in Savar to play the unofficial match.
Tamim would be playing competitive cricket for the first time in nearly three months after fracturing his left knuckle during the Asia Cup opener on September 15. Mashrafe, meanwhile, would be playing for the first time since buying nomination papers for the upcoming general election. All eyes were therefore on the BKSP to see what impact these different kinds of distractions had on the two.
There was good news all around for Bangladesh supporters when bad light ended play yesterday with nine overs of BCB XI's chase of West Indies' 331 for eight.
A blistering 73-ball 107 from Tamim and an unbeaten 83-ball 103 from Soumya Sarkar took BCB XI to 314 for six by that point and made them winners by 51 runs through the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
Mashrafe was his wily self with the ball, recording the most economical figures of the run-drenched day with eight overs for 31 runs and the wicket of Marlon Samuels. He also scored an aggressive 22 to help Soumya navigate a tricky situation and take the team to a winning position.
The biggest boon for Bangladesh heading into the ODI series from Sunday against the same opposition was that Tamim appeared not to have missed a single beat over the last 10-11 weeks. On the contrary, the left-hander seemed to take it up a notch in how he went after the West Indies bowlers.
He got going in his customary style in the third over, clipping Kemar Roach off his pads through midwicket for four and then launched into a cover drive to collect his second boundary. Most encouragingly, there was no sign of the side strain that delayed his comeback to the side when he got up on his toes and creamed a square cut to the point boundary.
The tone of his innings was set when, in the seventh over from Kemar Roach, he rolled back the years by dancing down the track and lofting the fast bowler over long on for six.
Imrul Kayes scored 27 in an 81-run opening stand before he was caught at point off Roston Chase in the ninth over. Soumya then came in and gave able support to Tamim, who was in murderous mood.
The Chattogram native reached his fifty off just 34 balls and took just 36 more deliveries to notch his century. Bangladesh's highest scorer in ODIs and Tests added a fourth six to 13 boundaries after reaching his hundred before being stumped off Chase trying for a fifth, ending a 114-run stand over just 13.5 overs for the second wicket.
A mini-collapse followed as Mohammad Mithun, Ariful Haque, Towhid Hridoy and Shamim Patwary all came and departed in quick succession. Soumya, however, was assured throughout -- apart from when he skied a ball before reaching fifty and it eluded a confused Marlon Samuels. Patwary's dismissal, bowled by Fabian Allen, brought the score down to 265 for six in the 36th over, which is when Mashrafe walked out to uproarious cheers.
Earlier, it was Rubel Hossain -- another returnee to the scene who impressed with the ball -- who went out for the toss, which the West Indies won before choosing to bat. Their 331 for eight was built on 81 from opener Shai Hope and an unbeaten 51-ball 65 from Roston Chase. It however proved insufficient on a belter of a wicket at the BKSP.
SCORES IN BRIEF