Bangladesh played with decisive aggression late in the day to chip off 35 runs at the expense of Imrul Kayes’ wicket (14), in response to the West Indies’ 237 all out on day one of the Second Digicel Test at the Grenada National Stadium.
Tamim Iqbal, the first Digicel Test centurion, is on 14 and nightwatchman, Enamul Haque Jr, is on 5, with Bangladesh 202 runs behind with nine wickets remaining.
The Windies squandered a fiery 60 run opening stand – mainly courtesy of the belligerent Dale Richards – to edge to a modest 237 all out, as Travis Dowlin played with maturity, control and purpose, but narrowly missed out on what would have been an entirely deserving century.
As batsman after batsman threw their wicket away, Dowlin stood resolutely at the other end and sensibly accumulated 95 runs as he sought partners to build the team total. Few stood by his side, opting instead for a diet of rash shots leading to their hasty demise, which even schoolboy cricketers would get strong words of reprimand from their little league coaches.
Batting at number three, a position to which he has grown accustomed, for his native Guyana, the right handed Dowlin missed a century by five runs, as he was last man out in the 77th over.
He laboured over 162 deliveries, hit a modest seven fours and a solitary six, as he demonstrated to the other batsmen – who seemed in a hurry to return to the pavilion – how to perform on a pitch which was not a bowler’s paradise, which stand in captain, Shakib Al Hasan, seemed to have thought when he won the toss and fielded. Instead of pace and bounce, it was slow and unthreatening.
The 32 year old Dowlin received support from all rounder David Bernard who made 17, as the pair added 43 for the fifth wicket. Bernard looked calm and authoritative, as he was in the First Digicel Test when he scored back-to-back half centuries. It took a loose delivery outside off stump from Shakib’s left arm spin to engineer his downfall. Bernard’s eye lit up as the right hander launched into a vicious cut, but the outcome was a tame catch at point. He lingered for an eternity at the crease, disbelievingly and consumed by obvious disappointment, before departing to leave the score on a precarious 157 for 5.
It was the start of another mini collapse which virtually ensured that the Windies did not post an imposing total anywhere close to the 375, which Dowlin revealed afterwards they were targeting.
In eleven deliveries, three wickets fell. Bernard aside, the other all rounder – Darren Sammy (1) – was lbw to left arm spinner, Enamul Haque Jr (who replaced injured captain Mashrafe Mortaza), and wicketkeeper, Chadwick Walton (2), fell cheaply as the home side were reduced to 160 for 7.
Then another partnership blossomed to add a tinge of respectability to the eventual total.
Ryan Austin – the off spinner – committed himself to a 91 ball vigil during which he scored 19. His runs were not as important as the time he accompanied Dowlin at the crease. The pair added 59 runs to move the score to 219, when pacer, Shahadat Hossain, pushed Austin far enough back into his crease to have caused him to step on his wicket.
Dowlin, sensing that he needed to make haste and register what would have been a maiden Test century in his second Test, upped the ante and hit a six to move from 88 to 94, but when five away from the ton, his progress was halted by what was, without doubt, the catch of the day. Dowlin aimed to lift Shakib over cover and executed almost perfectly, but Iqbal leaped into the air to haul in a breathtaking catch and close the Windies innings.
After the match got off to a late start due to a wet pitch, Richards left the few fans at the ground wondering whether they were witnessing a Twenty20 match instead. He seemed to have no interest in anything other than boundaries. The right handed Barbadian strokemaker cracked 11 fours and two sixes, as he romped to 69 from 80 deliveries. His was the second wicket to fall and the first of two in off spinner, Mahmudullah’s, first over – the penultimate before the lunch interval. Richards went caught and bowled and Ryan Hinds (2) followed in similar fashion to allow the Bangladeshis to claim the initiative for the first time in the day. They never relinquished their grip after that, as their trio of spinners tightened the noose around the Windies and secured three wickets each. Mahmudullah took 3 for 44, Shakib 3 for 59 and Haque Jr 3 for 62 as, combined, they delivered 58.1 of the 76.1 overs bowled.
Omar Phillips, the left handed opener from the Combined Campuses and Colleges team, made a brisk 23 before he was the first to have callously gifted his wicket away. With Richards pounding away, there was no need for Phillips – who made a composed 94 on debut in the previous match – to step on the accelerator. As if possessed by a run scoring demon, he aimed to clobber a six over long on and was badly dropped. Instead of being becalmed by the mishap, he sauntered on as if in a glorified net session. He lofted the next delivery for four over long off, then tried to heave over deep mid wicket but was well caught by Iqbal, as the ball dipped travelling against the wind. His dismissal must have infuriated head coach, John Dyson, but such infuriation was only multiplied as Richards, Hinds (who played in place of left arm spinner Nikita Miller), Bernard and Walton all got out in utterly reckless fashion.