Yet again, West Indies batted poorly……..
The tinge of green on an otherwise brown strip indicated that the first ODI of the series between Windies and Bangladesh would assist the seamers more than it normally does. With the pitch likely to be bouncier, especially in the first hour of the match, it was expected that the side batting first would be confronted with a barrage of bouncers bowled by the fast bowlers, but in a surprising move, Bangladesh began the proceedings with Mehidy Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan, which not only indicated their error in judgement but also highlighted how the Bangla camp are over-reliant on the slower bowlers for success, even though the conditions suggest otherwise.
Despite the presence of match-winners Mustafizur Rahman and Mashrafe Mortaza, the spectators witnessed 9 overs of spin upfront, even though the deliveries bowled by Hasan bounced extra thus negating all danger and Shakib looked anything but threatening as he stuck to bowling full, which allowed the batters Shai Hope and Kieran Powell to back away and create room with ease. Even as the air was desperately urging Mortaza to take them out of the attack, the duo of Hasan and Shakib – the sculptors of many memorable wins in the recent past – kept bowling straighter deliveries sans much success. However, even though the spinners were hardly getting much assistance, the Windies batters magnified their impact as Powell was constantly looking to drive even against the extra bounce and Hope was keen to dance down the track, which often meant that he played down the wrong line.
Misjudging the lengths and making the bowlers look menacing was something that was on full display at Dhaka, when Powell was dismissed going for an ugly heave off a Shakib delivery that spun just a little bit. Though the opener would have done better if he instead left the ball, the “attacking mode” of cricket is so ingrained within the players from Windies that “see-the-ball-hit-the-ball” has become a new-found mantra.
With misses and false shots galore, the first nine overs fetched only 30 runs and by the time Mustafizur and Mortaza came on, the pressure had already been created. Darren Bravo, the next batsman tried to avoid being sucked into the T20 mode and went into an overtly defensive mode, defending balls left, right and centre even when he got behind the line of the ball. His 51-ball 19 not only forced one to rip out one’s hair but also increased the pressure at the other end. Shai Hope, who had looked comfortable flicking the spinners with his bottom hand was equally at ease against the quicks, timing the balls aimed at his pads with perfection. However, by the time Bravo was dismissed – playing a loose shot towards long-off – the innings had lost all steam, as Windies were tottering at 65 for 2 after 20.4 overs.
With the top-order players going after every ball and Bravo playing more cautiously than what one would have expected, the confused approach exhibited left the audiences befuddled, and this is where the home side cashed in. While Hope was looking comfortable, the pressure was built at the other end with even Marlon Samuels looking to stay put at the crease without accelerating. The former was out looking to up the ante, as he went for a slice off a full delivery that pitched just wide of outside off. Windies 79 for 3 after 25 overs.
Also read: The woeful batting of West Indies
By the time Shimron Hetmyer walked out, the pressure was well and truly on. He looked to break the self-imposed shackles but only ended up mistiming Rubel Hossain’s good length delivery that was pitched around the middle and leg stump. He swung his bat and exhibited over-confidence by playing across the line constantly, missed deliveries in his arc and was dismissed as he failed to read the lack of bounce on a Hasan delivery. The slider on the middle and leg stump hardly had any bounce, but Hetmyer, assuming it had, went back into his crease only to see it uproot his timber. By this time, with the scorecard reading 93 for 4 after 28.1 overs, the writing was well and truly on the wall.
Mistimes, flirty pokes, skipper Rovman Powell showing a dazed confusion with regards to his footwork – going back to deliveries when he should rather have lunged forward – and with players throughout the batting order playing outside the line even against the straighter good length balls, the Windies players with the willow were an absolute mess, something that the scoreboard would hardly reflect.
It will reflect the economical spell that Mortaza bowled. It will tell the audience that a number of jaffas were coughed up by Hossain and that Fizz bowled deliveries that moved off the deck consistently and constantly. However, the strange batting approach, which involved hitting every ball one moment and then defending every delivery the next, allowed the Bangla bowlers to reap rich rewards and the fact that the scorecard is not a clear indication of the proceedings was proven once again in the game.