An authoritative captain’s knock of 96 from Shakib Al Hasan, led Bangladesh to their first ever back-to-back Test victories and maiden overseas series win at the end of the Second and Final Digicel Test at the Grenada National Stadium late Monday afternoon.
The soft spoken 22 year old left handed all rounder, finished the game in a blaze of glory, spanking first innings tormentor Kemar Roach for consecutive fours and a disdainful six to set off electric celebrations in the visiting camp.
Scores: West Indies 237 (Travis Dowlin 95, Dale Richards 69, Mahmudullah 3 for 44) and 209 (David Bernard 69, Dowlin 49, Shakib 5 for 70); Bangladesh 232 (Mushfiqur Rahim 49, Raqibul Hasan 44, Kemar Roach 6 for 48) and 217 f 6 (Shakib 96*, Raqibul Hasan 65, Darren Sammy 5 for 55)
After an initial stutter in their run chase – leaving them at a precarious 67 for 4 – Shakib and Raqibul Hasan, the 21 year old right hander playing in only his fifth Test, stroked the ball with commanding and surprising ease as they put on a match winning fifth wicket partnership of 105. The pair took the score to 173 before Raqibul was caught and bowled by the persevering Darren Sammy for a career best 65 (99b, 8×4, 1×6).
Sammy bowled dutifully and was rewarded with a third career five wicket haul but, tellingly, he appeared to be the only West Indian on the field who believed that a series levelling victory was possible.
Shakib, stand in captain for the injured Mashrafe Mortaza, and eventual Man of the Match and Man of the Series, followed his five wicket haul in the Windies second innings (and a match haul of 8 for 129) by playing a crunching innings – four short of what would have been a maiden Test ton – off just 97 balls with 13 fours and the final six to bring an end to the proceedings late in the final session on the fourth day, leaving both sides with an additional day off before the three match Digicel One Day International Series commences in Dominica. Shakib’s equalled his previous career best of 96 against Sri Lanka in 2008.
Earlier in the day, West Indies started at 192 for 8, but quickly lost David Bernard Jr for a top score of 69 (76b, 6×4, 2×6) and Tino Best (12) to close on 209. With the five run first innings lead, Bangladesh needed to get 215 to win. Shakib took 5 for 70 and Enamul Haque Jr picked up 3 wickets for 48, as the Bangladesh spinners combined once again to sink the Windies, taking nine of the ten wickets.
There was a stark contrast in the bowling statistics for the two sides. The visiting spinners captured 18 of the 20 Windies wickets in the match, while of the Windies spinners took only two of the 16 Bangladeshi wickets.
In the first innings, Kemar Roach bowled with venomous pace to hurry the Tigers and secure a career best 6 for 48 in only his second Test, but then he seemed a spent force in the second innings. While Sammy provided wickets at one end, he received little support from the likes of the fiery but erratic Best who went wicketless in the match, and the two Ryans, Austin and Hinds who took only one wicket apiece in the game.
When Sammy made the breakthrough at 173 for 5, had another two quick wickets been bagged the Bangladeshis tail would have been exposed and the possibility of them being toppled over would have become stark.
It was not to be as the petite wicketkeeper, Mushfiqur Rahim (12) – top scorer with 49 in the first innings – added 27 runs to cross the 200 barrier. At 201, Mushfiqur was halted courtesy of another Sammy caught and bowled dismissal, but Shakib was in no mood for the match to go over to the final day as he took 16 runs from Roach’s last four balls.
The Bangladeshis in the dressing room leapt to their feet and raced onto the field to congratulate their hero leader. And as they did, they also lavished deserving praise on Raqibul for his most critical innings. It was the partnership between the two which laid the foundation of the run chase and set them on course to the memorable victory.
They have earned a few days of celebrations before the First Digicel ODI in Dominica on Sunday, July 26th.