Shakib, Tamim, Riyad star in Bangladesh’s first overseas series win
Bangladesh are set to embark on a month-long tour in the West Indies this month to test their skills in all three formats against the home side, once an undisputed powerhouse of the game.
The first assignment for the Tigers and their new Test captain Shakib Al Hasan would be to turn the tides from the consecutive series defeats against South Africa and Sri Lanka in the two-match Test series at the Caribbean, slated to begin from June 16.
For this segment, we are only focusing on the Test series during Bangladesh's tour of the West Indies in 2009.
Tamim's first Test century
It was Tamim Iqbal's maiden Test century – a 243-ball 128 in the second innings of the game -- that eventually laid the foundation for Bangladesh's second-ever Test victory with a 95-run win over a weakened West Indies side in the first Test in St Vincent. Tamim seemed desperate to not repeat what he had done in the first innings – playing away from his body and edging a Tino Best delivery to the slip. The left-hander, who had often paid for his over-aggression, looked determined and played almost out of character. He calmly swayed away from the bouncers that Best had thrown his way but did not hesitate to pounce on the ones that are short and wide. As the day passed, he became more defensive and relied on singles as he stitched up stands of 82 and 146 runs for the opening and the second wicket with Imrul Kayes and Junaid Siddique respectively. Thanks to Tamim's knock, Bangladesh were able to set a 277-run target which was later handsomely defended by the Tigers' spin duo of Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad.
Mahmudullah's dream debut
Set 277 to win, the home side crumbled to 181 all out as the debutant off-spinner Mahmudullah Riyad ripped through the batting order with 5-51 in the first Test. The strategy for Mahmudullah was simple and it could be best described by what had happened in the second session of the final day. At one point, wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim shouted out to Mahmudullah: "Just keep hitting the right areas; the pitch will take care of the rest". Mahmudullah did exactly that to pick up three quick wickets after lunch before he returned to take another two in the last session, finishing with figures of five for 51 in 15 overs which would remain as his career-best spell in the format.
Mashrafe limps off the ground
Bowling in his just seventh over of his first game in charge of the Bangladesh Test side, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza lost his footing and fell clumsily on his right knee. The delivery was put away through the covers by Omar Phillips for a boundary but what had hurt the Tigers most was that Mashrafe had to be eventually ruled out from the entire series as he limped out of the ground in agony.
Shakib rises to the occasion
With Mashrafe gone, vice-captain Shakib Al Hasan assumed his role and went on to etch his names in the Tigers' cricket history. Shakib led from the front in the West Indies in 2009, earning both the player of the match (in the second Test) and player of the series awards. He scored 159 runs in the two-Test series at an average of 53.00 and was Bangladesh's second-highest run-scorer in those matches. His haul of 13 wickets at an average of 18.76 from both matches meant Shakib was the equal highest wicket-taker for the series along with West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach. After orchestrating the downfall of the Windies in the first Test, to help the Tigers win their second Test after four years and six months since their first Test win, Shakib put in an all-round display in the second Test in Grenada to charge Bangladesh to their first overseas series win. Shakib struck a majestic unbeaten 96 off 97 balls in the second innings and Bangladesh, after an early scare, comfortably surpassed the target of 215 with a day to spare. He also ended with figures of five for 70 as Bangladesh bowled out West Indies for 209.
A weakened West Indies side
In the eyes of many, Bangladesh's achievement may be undermined as they played against a second-string West Indies side missing 13 of their best players because of a contract dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). Even the two Tests were largely ignored by the Caribbean public with pitifully low attendance on each day in both St Vincent and Grenada. The only positives for West Indies coach John Dyson will have been the bowling of Sammy and paceman Roach along with the all-round play of Dave Bernard, who scored three half-centuries and delivered some useful medium pace. But for a side that had lost their skipper to an injury early on the tour and were yet to register their second Test win in 60 matches since their introduction the Test format nine years ago, it still meant a lot.