Saturday, 17 November 2012

West Indies Shaky In Dhaka

Nasir Hossain out for 96
Cricket matches on the sub-continent are never quite what they seem. Mostly, they are run feasts on dull, slow wickets but things change quickly. After twenty three hours in Dhaka, 1300 runs had been scored and only 15 wickets had fallen, with the West Indies cruising to an unassailable lead and plenty of batting to come. Keiran Powell had just notched his second hundred of the match, Darren Bravo had finally put ability and form in the same pocket and all was right with the world.

It was about then that not only did the wheels fall off but the engine fell out. Five wickets fell in the last 13 overs of the day and comfort turned to unease. It may have been worse, for Windies skipper Darren Sammy was lucky to survive.

Bangladesh had earlier taken a small first innings lead, adding 101 in ninety minutes. All rounder Nasir Hossain was the man with his foot on the accelerator, narrowly missing what would have been a maiden Test ton when he edged Tino Best to Chris Gayle at slip. His morning's work had included three sixes from the spinners. Bangladesh has rarely held a first innings lead and they did so this time with their highest score in Tests and after strong contributions from seven of its top eight.

The West Indies started badly. Lunch hadn't even settled when Chris Gayle failed for a second time in a match blatantly full of runs. To his credit, he walked after tickling one behind from Rubel Hossain. Darren Bravo, batting in this match at three after the problems bought on by Kirk Edwards failures in England, was elegant from the start. Defending by using a long reach forward, he looked comfortable against the array of Bangladeshi spinners and his driving from mid on to cover point was a delight. At the other end, Keiran Powell was circumspect for much of the middle session but would punctuate his sedation with boundaries in clusters: like the brace he took from Gazi in the tenth over. When the experienced Shahadat had him edging to slip a few overs later, the spill from Junaid looked immediately costly in a match of few chances.

Powell 117 & 110
The West Indies went to tea still only one down and the century partnership raised and in the hour after tea, both batsmen went after the bowling. Powell raised his second hundred, putting his weights up considerably. Gordon Greenidge had been the only West Indian to have chalked up the feat. Just into the last hour, 85 had been raised in the session and the West Indies were raising their lead at a roar when it just all went pear shaped.

Having just seen his partner raise three figures, Bravo threw away his own set, chasing a wide ball from Rubel and snicking to Mushfiqur. Marlon Samuels, the batting hero of late, was gone in the next over when offie Gazi got a ball to get big on him and he could only fend it to Nahfees at short leg. Three down but the little man didn't appear at the gate with his eyes underlined in trademark fashion. Chanderpaul hadn't fielded during the morning and apparently wouldn't bat.

Things got worse quickly. Powell was deceived when left arm spinner Shakib kept the spin off a ball which the batsmen expect to come in to him. Mushfiqur had his third catch behind. With Darren Sammy batting at six, things looked fragile and still no Chanderpaul. The resolute Dinesh Ramdin was fooled into going back to Shakib when forward would have been safer and was lbw and then in the last over, debutante Veerasammy Permaul played inside the line from Gazi and lost his off stump.

At the other end, Sammy was playing dangerously against Shakib, driving his first delivery through mid wicket and launching a large smote way over long on. In between, he was hit twice on the pads. Either shout could have been given.

A 215 lead looks thin, with much depending on whether Chanderpaul can bat. Bangladesh have one last challenge to overcome to secure their first win over quality opposition.