“Struggle would be an understatement looking at the way Bangladesh fared in the first innings”
If one might have glanced through Bangladesh’s scorecard after an hour’s play, it would have been very difficult to believe that it was a Test match in progress. Bangladesh lost wickets in heaps and in contemporary cricket, the sight of a side being bundled out inside a session is rare, very rare. Bangladesh were folded before Lunch on Day 1 in Antigua with just 43 runs on the board.
Prior to the start of the Test match, many expected West Indies to dominate the game, but none would have anticipated Bangladesh to struggle this badly. In fact, struggle would be an understatement looking at the way Bangladesh fared in the first innings. They were dismantled for a paltry total of 43, which is their lowest in Test history and second-lowest overall after India were undone for 42 in 1974. Bangladesh’s previous lowest total in Test cricket was 62 against Sri Lanka back in 2007.
West Indies did have a decent bowling attack, but Bangladesh could have done better than what they eventually did. In fact, this is West Indies’ best bowling performance in a Test. Bangladesh couldn’t manage to stand their ground for 20 overs, they were derailed inside 19 overs on a surface, which had some assistance for the batsmen.
Although there was pace, bounce and some lateral movement in the surface and West Indies pacers were always going to pose a challenge of a different kind, but Bangladeshi batsmen did show poor technique as well as temperament. The path was never going to be easy, but it turned out to be a cakewalk for West Indies. Both the teams are ranked eighth and ninth respectively with West Indies being the frontrunner in ICC’s Test ranking, but this encounter made the home side look like a top one.
West Indies won the toss and put Bangladesh to bat first. Many expected Shannon Gabriel, who recently crossed the 100-wicket milestone, to wreak havoc. But, on this occasion, Kemar Roach was the wrecker-in-chief; the menacing right-arm bowler ran through Bangladesh’s top and middle-order to leave them reeling at 5 for 18 inside nine overs.
The carnage was more about Bangladesh’s poor batting; in saying so, no credit is being taken away from West Indies’ bowlers. They showed some staggering accuracy and sheer discipline with the ball, but Bangladesh’s batting was mediocre. After a cautious start, Tamim Iqbal fell prey to Roach’s persistence, poking at a delivery outside off. Moments later, Mominul Haque drove away from the body and ended up edging the ball straight to the gully fielder. Bangladesh were in hot water and Roach was tightening the noose around them. They needed a partnership and play out the new ball somehow.
Roach wasn’t done yet; he inflicted some serious damage in the ninth over by getting rid of Bangladesh’s two most reliable batsmen – Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan and then Mahmudullah. Mushfiqur was trapped leg before while Shakib was caught at second slip as Bangladesh fell in deep deep trouble. On the very next ball, Mahmudullah was squared up by a peach of a delivery from Roach and caught safely behind the stumps by Shane Dowrich.
Miguel Cummins and Jason Holder accounted for rest of the Bangladeshi wickets after Roach walked off the field due to a calf injury. Roach’s exit raised hopes of Bangladesh’s comeback, but it wasn’t to be. Cummins joined the party and was equally supported by skipper Jason Holder from the other end. Liton Das looked in good touch and survived the new ball, but failed to convert. He went for a slog and ended up giving a simple catch to backward point. The tail was cleaned up in no time and there were four ducks in all. Liton was the highest scorer with 25 runs to his name and no batsmen managed to reach the double-figure mark.
At this level, even the smallest of the weaknesses are brutally exploited and most of the Bangladeshi batsmen played loose strokes to gift their wickets away. While the headlines have been hogged by Roach and Cummins, there are some serious concerns for Bangladesh in their line-up. This side has potential, but one wouldn’t be wrong in saying that this outing was just too careless and unexpected. It would be too small a sample size to judge Bangladesh’s batting, but time is running out and their batsmen need to step up and deliver.
At stumps on Day 1, West Indies were in total control of the game and have gained a massive lead in the first innings. On a surface, where Bangladesh struggled like a fish without water, West Indies batsmen scored heavily to steer their side to a dominating position.
Bangladesh have a mountain to climb at Antigua and making a comeback from this stage would be a herculean task. West Indies are all set to gain a massive lead and in a good position to win the game by an innings.