DHAKA – Young opener Kieran Powell and veteran middle-order batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul both struck centuries this morning as the West Indies dominated day one of their first Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka reaching 361 for 4.
There was also a historic first as belligerent opener Chris Gayle became the first man to hit a six off the first ball of a Test match. The first officially recognised Test match commenced on March 15, 1877 between England and Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Powell (117) and Chanderpaul (123 not out) batted determinedly after West Indies lost three wickets in the morning session. Unlike Gayle and Marlon Samuels, who got carried away after impressive starts, West Indies’ two centurions focused on occupying the crease and seeing off the first few overs after the break when Bangladesh were still fresh from a wicket at the stroke of lunch.
The first seven overs after the break yielded no boundaries, but Bangladesh could only contain for so long, as the pair gradually began to open up, calmly, without taking any undue risks.
Powell displayed excellent timing, especially against the seamers, and also showcased some adept footwork against Bangladesh’s army of spinners. He was strong off the back foot against spin but also stepped out, launching debutant offspinner Sohag Gazi over the in-field and driving him through the covers. His timing stood out against pace, and there were several opportunities thanks to a generous dose of over-pitched deliveries from pacers Shahadat Hossain and Rubel Hossain. Extra cover, mid-off, mid-on and midwicket were his preferred scoring areas; he drove Shahadat for three consecutive boundaries in his new spell after lunch, and had displayed similar confidence in the morning as well.
When the field spread, Powell picked singles comfortably through point and deep square leg, showed no signs of nervousness as he approached three-figures and reached the landmark – his second in Tests – with a paddle past fine leg.
At one stage after lunch, Powell and Chanderpaul hit 11 fours in eight overs. The bowling alternated between pace and spin and then stayed with spin, as captain Mushfiqur Rahim began shuffling his bowlers. There was turn but not much bounce, and nothing significantly threatening to the two set batsmen.
Powell had a scare when on 7, when he was caught after the ball ricocheted off the silly-point fielder’s helmet, which according to the rules does not constitute a wicket. He was eventually bowled by the bowler who created that chance, Gazi got Powell’s wicket when he missed a pull after tea, but Chanderpaul, who was part of a 125-run stand, by then had prepared himself for a long stay.
Chanderpaul’s innings was typically workmanlike. He moved around the crease, swept, tickled the ball to the fine-leg boundary and was especially harsh when the spinners provided him with width, slashing them with ease past point. Just as Powell had done after lunch, Chanderpaul accelerated after tea, collecting four boundaries off Shakib Al Hasan’s left-arm spin all round the ground. His opportunistic streak produced two boundaries in an over off Rubel – one of a full toss, the other just a firm push down the ground with the field up.
Chanderpaul’s only moment of insecurity before reaching his century was the boundary that took him to 95, a nervy chip that fell just short of mid-on. A scoreboard error meant he celebrated prematurely after clipping Nasir Hossain for a four, taking off his helmet, raising his arms and kissing the ground, but reached his 26th Test ton next ball with a single.
Denesh Ramdin (52 not out) gave Chanderpaul good company in another productive stand, collecting some easy boundaries off short deliveries doled out by Rubel, and reached his own fifty before the close.
The runs flowed in the morning as well. Gayle might forget the moment but the debutant Gazi will likely remember it for the rest of his life as the first ball of the Test was smashed for a six over long-on. Gazi’s first over went for 18, but Mushfiqur continued with him, pushed long-off back and, soon enough, Gayle stepped out to loft one inside-out straight to the fielder. Gazi had a role to play in each of the three dismissals before lunch. He also got rid of Darren Bravo and caught Samuels at deep square leg; both batsmen had built promising stands with Powell, but it was their most illustrious team-mate who guided Powell and West Indies to a position of control. (Cricinfo)
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