“Their intensity brought a lot of significance to the partnership while they gave grit a good name when the world is more obsessed with the flair of Caribbean cricket. Steely resolve like Shivnarine Chanderpaul could be the answer to climb the Everest rather than the mad-hitting of Chris Gayle. Let’s earn the stability first – the muscles can be flexed later on.”

 

No regrets.

Never satisfied.

Never say die.

Never lose temper.

Almost 40 years ago, if someone tried to read the mind of Clive Lloyd and his men, they might have discovered a staggering similarity with that of another great Ian Chappell, who took the Australian team to the peak of the powers in the early 70s. During his tour as the skipper of the West Indian unit, Lloyd learned through the hard ways, and perhaps since that tour, he learned the abovementioned words and practiced them to create a kingdom, which ruled the roost for almost 20 years in the world cricket.

Such kind of mantra is not seen among the West Indian players these days. They are more about whims, party, fun, and featuring in the Twenty20 Leagues – the wish for another West Indies turnaround remains a dream for their followers.

But in between the abysmal displays and chaos, that determination to win matches under adversity did show.

Cricket is like a religion in the Caribbean and cricket was the tool, which united the Caribbean Islands for a long time. Cricket gave them joy during their days of despair – it gave them the platform to reach above the rest and forced the world to follow them and become their fans.

Still, today when there is no hope, there comes a bunch of talented boys to give hope.

It’s not that the West Indies lack the bowlers and batsmen to revive their glorious past, but what they actually lack is the never-say-die attitude.

After 4 days of toil at Chattogram, on Day 5, an unknown bloke named Kyle Mayers popped-up to take the world by storm – the weak West Indies unit overshadowed the abysmal show in the ODI series by scripting an outstanding victory – surely, one of the best in the history of Test cricket.

During the ODI series, the purpose of the West Indies tour to Bangladesh came under scrutiny. Their lackluster attitude was painful to watch and at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, Chattogram, for the first Test, without a doubt, another disgrace was waiting for them.

Well, the shades of that epic run chase in Brisbane were evident on Day 5 and Mayers was the man, who led from the front.

With the sun setting the west, shadows turning taller and acute tension on the faces of Bangladesh and West Indies players and officials, Mayers scored a magnificent 210 not out on his debut Test as West Indies pulled off the fifth-highest successful chase in Test cricket, and highest in Asia, nailing down 395 leaving the Bangladeshis stunned.

An unexpected result for both sides – Bangladesh did not expect to lose whereas West Indies did not expect such a monumental finish.

John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, and Shayne Moseley departed as if they finished their formalities and it was time to go back and relax in the dressing room, but the next two batsmen – Mayers and Nkumrah Bonner thought differently.

At 59 for 3, it was a mess, which required the qualities of an Iceman, who would occupy the crease and graft a partnership to stabilize the innings.

Bonner dropped down the anchor – roots grew beneath his feet. His intention was to hold one end firmly and provide Mayers the assurance to flex his arms and keep the scoreboard ticking. The two young West Indians realized the importance of strike rotation rather than switch to a T20 mode –this is Test cricket and it should be respected.

Intensity and grit were required to travel through the choppy waters on Day 5.

For two sessions the way Bonner and Mayers batted as if they had tamed the adversities, the chaos, the criticisms and trapped themselves in that zone, where they were only watching the ball, judging the length, and playing it according to the merit. Runs were coming from all corners of the ground – the noises of the fielders crowding the bat did not stimulate their brains, but it was all about listening to the sweet sound of the ball meeting the bat.

Both the youngsters were writing an epic story.

Their intensity brought a lot of significance to the partnership while they gave grit a good name when the world is more obsessed with the flair of Caribbean cricket. Steely resolve like Shivnarine Chanderpaul could be the answer to climb the Everest rather than the mad-hitting of Chris Gayle.

Let’s earn the stability first – the muscles can be flexed later on.

The duo added 216 for the fourth wicket and the journey from 59 for 3 to 275 for 3 was all about grit.

It was only the second time that two debutants have added more than 200 runs in this history of Test cricket. The only pair to have added more runs were Khalid Ibadulla and Abdul Kadir when they added 249 against Australia in Karachi in 1964. The 216 runs added is also the second-highest for any pair in the fourth innings in Asia.

That left West Indies needing 129 in a minimum of 33 overs in the final session. Bonner, who had survived a stumping chance against Nayeem Hasan before tea, hit Taijul Islam for a six in the first over after the interval but was lbw on the very next ball. Jermaine Blackwood too fell soon after. After slog-sweeping Taijul over long-on for six, he went for another big hit against Hasan, only to be bowled for 9.

292 for 5 and all of a sudden, it seemed, the finishing of the epic story might not be possible after all.

Mominul Haque decided to crowd fielders around the bat rather than maneuvering it according to the demand of the situation. With the match well poised and Mayers looking ominous, what required most was smartness. Sadly, Mominul is not Shakib Al Hasan, whose presence would have helped. Again, Bangladesh were deprived of his services due to an injury and the rest of the bowlers could hardly exploit the Day 5 track, which offered a lot.

But that should not take the credits away from Mayers and Bonner.

They trusted the defence and it paid off.

Anyhow, the filed-set of Mominul opened the gaps in the outfield, and Mayers and Joshua Da Silva took advantage of that, hitting a four each in one Hasan over. A few minutes later, when Mayers pulled Hasan over deep midwicket for a six to bring the target down to 76 – Mominul spread the field, in turn, it allowed taking singles freely.

In the last hour, the tension reached its peak and Mayers decided to ride on boundaries against an attack and captain, who lacked the cutting edge and temperament to pull the match out of the rut.

Mayers took Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman, and Taijul Islam to the cleaners by smashing 5 sixes and one boundary scoring 49 off 40 balls – In a 100-run stand with Da Silva for the sixth wicket, Mayers contributed 80 runs.

Da Silva was providing the perfect foil to the fluency of Mayers and when he was bowled for 20, the West India ship was just nearing the shores, but the dismissal of Kemar Roach raised the tension again because this is West Indies and they can lose from this position as well.

Ultimately, no damage was done.

Mayers completed writing the epic story which is now a part of West Indies cricket’s folklore.

Mayers joins an elite list of cricketers who scored a double ton in the fourth innings.

George Headley’s 223 in 1930 against England still remains the highest score in the fourth innings of a Test but Mayers joins Gordon Greenidge as the only other player to score a double in a winning cause. Greenidge smashed 214 against England at Lord’s in 1984. Both players were unbeaten. The unbeaten 210 by Mayers is also the highest fourth-innings score in Asia going past the unbeaten 171 by Younis Khan against Sri Lanka in Pallekelle in 2015.

Bangladesh would rue the chances they missed and the reviews they didn’t take, but that cannot overshadow the exemplary temperament shown by Mayers, Bonner, and Da Silva.

Chattogram turned Maroon today.

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