Thin WIndies Bowling Cost Them Digicel ODI Series

The Second Digicel One Day International at Windsor Park seemed to have confirmed that Bangladesh can hardly set a foot wrong in the Caribbean, and that no matter how hard they try, this replacement West Indies squad seem blighted to lose.

Captain Floyd Reifer had been calling on his batsmen to perform better all tour long and Travis Dowlin stepped up to the plate, delivering an unbeaten maiden century in just his second ODI but even that was not enough to prevent a Bangladesh victory. The win though represented more. It sealed the Digicel ODI Series for the visitors and it is the first time the Tigers have won an ODI series against a major Test playing nation.

Set 275 to win in their 200th ODI, the feisty Bangladeshis got 276 for 7 with an over to spare, the 3 wicket triumph relegating the Third and final Digicel ODI in St Kitts on Friday to being a formality.

West Indies batted first after winning the toss and Dowlin, the 32 year old Guyanese right hander played a skilful knock, getting an even 100, as the home side got up to 274 for 6 from 50 overs. But the spirited Bangladeshis, led by half centuries from captain Shakib Al Hasan – their star all tour long – and Mohammad Ashraful, and aided by a threadbare Windies bowling attack which even required the wicketkeeper – debutant Devon Thomas – to bowl, knocked off the runs after some intermittent flutters.

Shakib top scored with 65 from 61 deliveries, hitting just two fours and one six, while Ashraful made 64 from 77 deliveries with three fours and a six. A critical 31 from wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim ensured that the Bangladeshi’s required run rate remained manageable as the overs ticked away.

A 74 run fourth wicket partnership between Ashraful and Shakib laid the foundation for the win and the lower order completed the job, holding their nerves and picking off boundaries and singles with consummate ease against the battered Caribbean bowlers.

The Windies think tank made a crucial tactical blunder before the start of the match and it proved decisive later in the day. In addition to leaving out injured pacer Nelon Pascal for Gavin Tonge (who was also on debut), they benched left arm spinner Nikita Miller in favour of wicketkeeper Thomas.

It was presumably to add further depth to their batting but the decision haunted them when they required bowling – not batting – depth. With all rounders Rawl Lewis and Darren Sammy batting at seven and eight, and Andre Fletcher competently keeping wicket in the First Digicel ODI, it left many bewildered that the team hierarchy thought they needed even more batting muscle. What they required was for the batsmen selected to produce and in this game they did.

The decision meant that the Windies reduced themselves to the bare minimum of five frontline bowlers with no adequate back up in the event of emergencies. And they were faced with many. Sammy was limited by a hamstring injury and after delivering 7.5 overs, fast bowler Kemar Roach was banned from bowling having delivered two dangerous, above the waist full tosses (one a nasty beamer to Shakib in the 29th over).

Roach’s ban meant that captain Reifer had to resort to Thomas’ erratic medium pace to complete Roach’s spell. The Antiguan did get two cheap wickets but his 7 deliveries cost 11 runs and he allowed two boundaries and bowled two wides at a crucial stage of the game.= when the Windies needed to be frugal.

The usually economical David Bernard Jr had an off day with the ball, his 10 overs costing 59 runs, even if he bagged two wickets. It made Reifer’s headaches multiply with virtually every over that was completed and he had no genuine sixth/reserve bowler to turn to. Being upstream without a paddle would serve as an apt description of Reifer’s worries for most of the Bangladeshi innings.

Sammy toiled through his injury like the warrior he proves himself as every time he takes the field but there was simply no bowling back up when Roach was barred from the attack in the 43rd over. The Bangladeshis were ever cognizant of the Windies woes and never hesitated to cash in and eventually conclude the win.

When Windies batted they finished in a position they would have been immensely satisfied with but their bungling team selection began to bother them once the bowling resources began to falter.

Dowlin’s was a marvellously paced innings. He laboured over 88 balls for his first 50 but then smashed his second 50 from 29 deliveries, mainly during the batting Power Play when only three fielders could have been beyond the 30 meter circle.

Dowlin and Devon Smith (44) put on 66 runs for the third wicket but it was an eye catching 64 run partnership from 40 balls between Dowlin and Rawl Lewis (22) for the sixth wicket which pushed the Windies total towards 250.

And Sammy rammed home the initiative with 24 runs from 11 balls to close the innings and leave the Tigers with an uphill task.

The Tigers though have been in good batting form on this trip and they calculated their chase with precision as they accumulated runs through sharp singles, putting the Windies fielders under constant pressure and milked boundaries with regularity to keep the required run rate always within touching distance.

They did suffer some scares though.

Shakib and Ashraful were cruising along in a 74 run fourth wicket partnership until a rush of blood caused the latter to smash a Lewis delivery down Dale Richards’ throat at long off. Then Shakib was dropped on 47 and eventually lost his wicket in the 44th over. However the resourceful and calm little wicketkeeper Mushfiqur never flinched as he remained until the end of the 46th over by which time the result was hardly in doubt.