A second rain interruption ended play in the First Digicel Test at Arnos Vale at 3:20pm today, shortly after the tea interval. Bangladesh got to 42 without loss from 18.5 overs, after the entire first session was lost due to steady showers all morning. Heavy afternoon showers accompanied by thunder and lightning forced the umpires to abandon play for the day, and as a result, there will be an early start (9:30am) on day two and onwards to make up for lost time.
When play finally commenced at 1pm, the cautious Bangladeshi openers – Imrul Kayes 26* and Tamim Iqbal 14* – accumulated 36 runs from 14 overs, before the players had to leave the field when rain interrupted play for the first time.
Only five more overs were possible thereafter when an early tea interval was taken on a day when 70 overs were scheduled, following the deductions as calculated by the standing umpires Asoka de Silva and Tony Hill.
None of the West Indies bowlers were expensive; Darren Sammy, the St Lucian all rounder, being the most frugal, his 5.5 overs costing six runs. Tino Best (6-2-14-0) and Kemar Roach (5-1-18-0) – who shared the new ball – also ensured that the Bangladeshi openers were kept in check. David Bernard Jr, playing his second Test, only had two overs, as neither of the two spinners – Jamaican left armer Nikita Miller and Barbadian off spinner Ryan Austin – got a bowl.
Best and Sammy extracted some bounce early in their spells to make life for the openers slightly uncomfortable but they persevered well and remained unbeaten on a day when the rains, and nothing else, dominated.
Given the limited action on the field the highlight of the day was the extraordinary fact that the Windies fielded seven debutants in the match which is being played by what is effectively a third string replacement squad, after the initially selected Test squad, consisting of the regular international players, took strike action.
Only four players in the replacement squad had prior Test experience; captain, Floyd Reifer, played four Tests, the last being a decade ago in 1999; vice captain, Darren Sammy, has appeared in five; fast bowler, Tino Best, has 12 to his name; and David Bernard played one Test against Australia in 2003.
The seven debutants are openers, Dale Richards and Omar Phillips, Roach, Miller, Austin, batsman Travis Dowlin and Jamaican wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton who, like Reifer, plays his First Class cricket for the Combined Campuses and Colleges. Each player was presented with his Test cap before the start of play by President of the West Indies Cricket Board Dr. Julian Hunte who flew to St Vincent from neighbouring St Lucia where he lives and works.
Bangladeshi 19 year old right arm fast bowler, Rubel Hossain is the eight debutant in the game and 23 year old all rounder, Mahmudullah, the ninth.
Other than the West Indies’ inaugural Test in 1928, this Test has seen the most debutants for the regional side, the situation having been forced upon the WICB after the Chris Gayle led side withdrew from the series.
Bangladesh captain, Mashrafe Mortaza, won the toss and opted to bat first as his side left out Enamul Haque Jr, Mahbubul Alam, Mehrab Hossain Jr and Saghir Hossain.
Shortly after the toss, the rains returned and the pitch was hastily covered for the umpteenth time and the start time was delayed until after lunch. Not much play was possible thereafter despite intermittent sunshine.
WI squad: Floyd Reifer (captain), Darren Sammy (vice captain), Dale Richards, Travis Dowlin, Omar Phillips, Chadwick Walton (wicketkeeper), David Bernard Jr, Kemar Roach, Ryan Austin, Nikita Miller, Tino Best
Bangladesh squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (Captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim (Wicketkeeper), Raqibul Hasan, Rubel Hossain, Shahadat Hossain, Tamim Iqbal
Match officials: Andy Pycroft (match referee), Asoka de Silva and Tony Hill (standing umpires), Clyde Duncan (3rd umpire), Goland Greaves (4th umpire)