Jamaican Nkrumah Bonner will be one of the many Caribbean cricketers that will return from the West Indies’ tour of Bangladesh as a hero, after they registered a remarkable 17-run success in the 2nd Test at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on Sunday (14 February).
This was the first Test series win for West Indies in Asia since winning against the same opposition in 2012, and the entire contingent are brimming with confidence following this tour.
The manner of their victory was admittingly a topsy-turvy affair, with the tourists initially taking control to cruise to 409 all out only to fail miserably in their next innings and be whittled out for a pitiful 117.
Yet they held their nerve after setting a target of just 231, and saw Bangladesh make steady progress to reach 100 for the loss of only three wickets.
But the onslaught from a trio of bowlers, Antigua’s Rahkeem Cornwell (4-105), St. Vincent’s Jomel Warrican (3-47) and Barbados’ Kraigg Braithwaite (3-25) caused enough damage to register rare back-to-back Test success for the Windies. And being so focused they took seven Bangladesh seven wickets in the final two-and-half hours.
This tour has been quite a revelation and a really turnaround for the Windies, who have seemingly been motivated by a heartfelt letter of inspiration from former captain Clive Lloyd.
When the Cricket West Indies’ selectors announced their One Day International (ODI) and Test squads, the list was not only bereft of leading players but also their respective skippers.
The health and safety aspects of the coronavirus was cited by top names for declining the tour of Bangladesh, although there was possibly the thoughts in the back of some minds that they didn’t wish to suffer any humiliation should the Windies fail as miserably as they did in last year’s tour to New Zealand.
And sure enough, the West Indies were deeply embarrassed with pathetic losses in all three ODI games that ended up as one-sided contests with zero entertainment value. The excuse was that the tourists sported up to nine uncapped players in their ODI sides.
Yet the Test matches were a totally different story, despite Brathwaite’s troops restricted to just a fortnight’s net sessions before their first practice game in Chattogram.
The shake up to the Test squad was significant, with only first-choice bowlers and a few of their main batsmen within the squad that toured Bangladesh.
Lloyd, arguably West Indies’ greatest cricket captain, recognised the feeling within the two squads of being thrown into the deep end. In his open letter to the contingent he reminded them that this was their chance to cement a permanent place in the side.
This self-belief came to fruition with their astonishing three-wicket triumph in the 1st Test at Chattogram Test, when debutant Kyle Mayers (Barbados) made an historic double century.
Yet they were outplayed in the first four days before Mayers and Bonner added a record 216 run fourth wicket partnership, which helped steer the tourists to one of the Windies’ greatest Test wins.
It was back to business in the opening day at Dhaka, Bonner scoring his second successive half-century as the Windies made a steady 223-5 with openers Brathwaite (47) and Jamaica’s John Campbell (36) in the runs against disciplined bowling.
But Mayers, the first player to hit a double century in the fourth innings on his Test debut, was disappointingly dismissed for just five runs with a miscalculated drive to give an outside edge for a straightforward catch in the slips.
It was the defensive approach from Bonner, who engineered their recovery when stuttering along at 116-4, that paid dividends.
After resuming on 223-5, impressive knocks from Trinidad & Tobago’s Joshua Da Silva (92), Bonner (90) and Antigua’s Alzarri Joseph scored (82) to propel them to a respectable 409 all out.
But they suffered a major collapse following Joseph’s dismissal, losing their final four wickets for a measly 25 runs.
Shannon Gabriel (2-31) helped put the Windies back in the driving seat as Bangladesh were reduced to 105-4 at stumps on the second day, the Trinidad paceman striking twice in his first two overs to send Soumya Sarkar and Najmul Hossain back to the pavilion.
On the third day there were plenty of wickets and excitement. Off-spinner Cornwall (5-74) helped dismiss Bangladesh for 296, to register only his second five-wicket Test haul. Fast bowlers Gabriel (3-70) and Joseph (2-60) also made an impact to maintain the Windies’ upper hand.
But in response it was Bangladesh’s spinners who prevented the tourists from taking complete control, by reducing them to 41-3 at close of play.
Nayeem Hasan made the breakthrough to capture Brathwaite for six, following intervention from a video review. Mehidy Hasan claimed his 100th Test wicket by dismissing Barbados’ Shayne Moseley for seven and Taijul Islam grabbed the wicket of Campbell, who showed some resilience by hitting 18 off 48 balls.
The fourth day began with the West Indies still over 150 runs ahead, but nightwatchman Warrican became the first victim, pinned in front of the stumps by Abu Jayed.
Mayers appeared at the crease, and looked impressive when he punched a short ball first up through the gap between mid-on and mid-wicket for an emphatic four. But he played around his pads against Jayed and departed for just six runs.
The wickets tumbled at an alarming rate as the Windies crumbled to 117 all out, losing their final four wickets in just 21 balls, to post their second-lowest ever against Bangladesh. Only Bonner (38) and Da Silva (20) finished with a respectable individual tally.
In response Bangladesh appeared to breezing to victory, opener Tamim Iqbal scoring a rapid half-century (50 off 44 balls) before chipping the ball to Moseley at short cover off the Brathwaite.
The skipper led by example to remove fellow Soumya Sarkar (13) in an unusual dismissal, with the loose ball thumped into the gloves of wicketkeeper Silva but was eventually caught by Cornwall.
And at 70-2 it was Cornwall who became the difference between success and failure, as he captured four wickets and took a diving catch to end the contest.
With Bangladesh seemingly taking control at the crease, they collapsed to lose seven wickets over a 150-minute period to taste another Test defeat that was sealed when Mehidy Hasan (31) edged Warrican’s teasing delivery to first slip Cornwall.
The Windies bit back from the brink of defeat once more, courtesy of a combination of new-found confidence in their abilities as well as Brathwaite’s perfectly calculated bowling changes and field placements that resulted in a famous Test series win.
WI Tour schedule
|20 January|| 1st ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka|
Bangladesh (125-4) beat WI (122 all out) by six wickets
|22 January||2nd ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka|
Bangladesh (149-3) beat WI (148 all out) by seven wickets
|25 January||3rd ODI, ZACS, Chattogram|
Bangladesh (297-6) beat WI (177 all out) by 120 runs
|3-7 February||1st Test Match, ZACS, Chattogram|
WI (259 all out & 395-7) beat Bangladesh (430 all out & 223-8 declared) by three wickets
|11-15 February||2nd Test Match, SBNCS, Dhaka|
WI (409 all out & 117 all out) beat Bangladesh (296 all out & 213 all out) by 17 runs