Winning a Test match in two days and virtually one session must be a wonderful feeling
Yet, West Indies know that there is no room for complacency after demolishing Bangladesh by an innings and 219 runs in the first Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua.
The match started on Wednesday and was over shortly before lunch today.
West Indies put Bangladesh in and fired them out for a paltry 43 in 18.4 overs in the first innings – their lowest score in Tests. Fast bowler Kemar Roach was the main wrecker snatching five for eight off five overs. West Indies closed the opening day on 201 for two off 68 overs with opener Kraigg Brathwaite on 88 and the path for a resounding West Indies win well laid.
West Indies went on to score 406 all out in 137.3 overs as Brathwaite completed his seventh Test hundred (121) – debutant pacer Abu Jayed took three for 84 and off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz, three or 101 – before Bangladesh limped to 62 for six off 18 overs at stumps.
Despite an enterprising knock of 64 by wicket-keeper Nurul Hasan at No. 8, Bangladesh were dismissed for 144 in 40.2 overs in the second innings as Shannon Gabriel took five for 77 off 12 overs.
Simply put, pace was the undoing of Bangladesh as Roach, Gabriel, Jason Holder and Miguel Cummins enjoyed themselves.
And, unless their batsmen can show a marked improvement, West Indies are expected to also triumph in the second and final Test in Jamaica, starting next Thursday.
Roach was the mastermind, taking five wickets in a space of 12 balls. These are the fewest balls any bowler has taken to pick up five wickets.
Aussie Monty Noble did it (seven for 17 off 7.4 overs) in the first innings) against England at Melbourne in 1902, while South African great Jacques Kallis feat (five for 21 off 4.3 overs) was against Bangladesh in the second innings at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom in 2002.
Roach took a wicket once every six balls, making it the joint-fifth best strike rate in an innings when a bowler has taken five or more wickets in an innings.
Opener Liton Das, who made 25 off 53 balls with two fours, was the only batsman to reach double-figures before he was sixth out with the score 34, off Cummins.
Cummins took three for 11 off four overs and skipper Holder, two for ten off 4.4 overs.
Further statistics revealed that Bangladesh were dismissed in 112 deliveries – the second-shortest first innings in a Test behind the 111 balls by Australia in tumbling for 60 against England at Trent Bridge in Nottingham in 2015.
Roach did not bowl in the second innings after concerns over a hamstring injury he sustained in the first innings.
Apart from Gabriel’s five-wicket haul, Holder picked up three for 30 off 15 overs and Cummins, two for 16 off 7.2 overs.
What a relief for Cummins! After all, he took only three wickets (ave: 73.66) in the just concluded three-Test series against Sri Lanka, which was drawn 1-1.
Having stuck to the same side, which played in all three Tests against the Sri Lankans, the selectors showed that they were prepared to give players who performed disappointingly a chance to redeem themselves.
It was refreshing to see Brathwaite leading the West Indies batting with a century (121), while there were half-centuries for his opening partner Devon Smith (58) and Shai Hope (67).
Brathwaite faced 291 balls and struck 11 fours, underlining his reputation as a batsman who likes to occupy the crease. It was his first Test century since scoring 134 in the first innings against England at Headingley in Leeds last August.
But it must also be noted that Brathwaite came close to hitting a hundred on at least three occasions in 17 innings since then including knocks of 95 in the second innings of the Leeds match, 86 against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in October and 91 off New Zealand in Wellington in December.
Hope’s knock was also significant in that it was his first half-century in 13 innings after he was left high and dry on 90 not out against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo last October.
Critics have marked Hope fairly hard ever since he scored record twin hundreds in a winning cause in the second Test against England at Headingley last year.
He hit his maiden Test century – 147 and 118 not out – as West Indies brought off a memorable five-wicket win. It was the 534th first-class match at Headingley but the first to see a batsman scoring two centuries.
At the same time, however, Roston Chase, another of the talented batsmen, must be concerned with his form after scoring just two.
He has mustered only 125 runs in his last seven innings since scoring 64 in the last Test against New Zealand in Hamilton in December.
Kieran Powell, yet another batsman under the microscope, managed 48.
In a media release two days before the start of the series against Bangladesh, Cricket West Indies (CWI) said the selection panel “expects to see a greater effort from the top 5 batters and see them return to the focus and discipline we know they are capable of”.
The batting display in Antigua should serve as an inspiration.
“After some very competitive cricket against ICC 6th ranked Sri Lanka… we congratulate the team on a drawn series but recognized that victory was within our reach. The selection panel also acknowledges and commends the strong performances of captain Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel and man-of-the-series Shane Dowrich,” the CWI release added.
Now, while the West Indies bowlers must be praised for their efforts, it was evident that the Bangladesh batsmen were not quite prepared to get behind the ball.
The commentators reckoned that the pitch was a good one and with application and dedication, runs could be scored.
Considering that this is a series featuring low ranked teams with West Indies at No. 9 below Bangladesh, one should not get too carried away with the resounding win.
At the post-match presentation ceremony, Holder said: “It’s good to start the series well. I did not expect the 43 all out and Kemar Roach was outstanding. We had one no-ball (sent down by Cummins in the second innings and which was called after a replay when a batsman was caught) in this game and if we have to be critical, we could have been more clinical in the second innings. Big effort from the quicks, hopefully, they can continue. I’m pleased with my performance personally.”
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said: “Very tough for us. But I think there are a lot of areas we need to work on. We were beaten in all three departments. We need to prepare ourselves in the next five days. Adapting to these conditions is not easy. We’re not used to this. Nurul batted really well today. Credit to him. Jayed was impressive in his debut.
He showed his character and can be a great prospect for Bangladesh.
Player-of-the-Match Roach said that the pitch was of “some help (with) more movement and bounce”. He also stated: “I’ve been working really hard with the fast-bowling coach Corey Collymore”.
West Indies need to work even harder in Kingston to ensure a series win, which would put them ahead of Bangladesh in the rankings. Hopefully, they will find the Sabina Park pitch to their liking.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and International cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) Championship for over three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org).Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com