Bulwarks rise in Bangladesh's big win

Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafe Mortaza – the four pillars of Bangladesh cricket – answered the country’s distress call in unison as the visiting Bangladesh side overcame the ignominy of their Test series drubbing with a fine 48-run victory in the opening game of the three-match ODI series at the Providence Stadium in Guyana. Tamim Iqbal scored a hundred (130*) and shared with Shakib Al Hasan (97) the second-highest ODI stand of Bangladesh history – 207 – to help set a competitive total of 279 before Mashrafe Mortaza broke the back of Windies’ chase with figures of 4 for 37.

In recent history, the 50-over format has always helped Bangladesh alleviate the pains of stagnation in Test cricket. The Windies perhaps were fitting opposition to understand this sentiment. They treat the T20 format much the same way. Sunday’s clash in Guyana was no different for Bangladesh. The ignominy of the 0-2 Test loss had forced strong statements from BCB chief Nazmul Hasan but once senior statesman Mortaza was in the house, there was a collective lifting of the spirits.

But that took some time to manifest on the park as Tamim and Shakib took a strangely subdued path towards setting up the game after Mortaza had won the toss under slightly overcast conditions and opted to bat. Mortaza’s decision was on the judgement that Providence Stadium surface had historically offered the proverbial ‘tacky surface.’ That said the overheads allowed Jason Holder to bend the ball away from the right-hander and Anamul Haque – preferred over Liton Das – duly nicked a delivery in the second over to second slip.

That dismissal brought the two experienced left-handers to the middle whose union in the middle soon brought the showers along for a 28-minute delay. The duo reined in their attacking instincts especially when Holder moved round the stumps to cramp the batsmen for room. By the 10th over, the scoreboard had trickled away to 31 for 1.

The hosts had two spinners up their sleeves and both Devendra Bishoo and Ashley Nurse found appreciable turn from the surface. The latter, however, was victim of shoddy fielding by his peers with Chris Gayle not moving quickly enough to nab Tamim in the 14th over. Tamim and Shakib built ever so slowly and reached their respective half-centuries off 87 and 68 deliveries respectively. Only 47 runs were then added between overs 30 and 40 as Bangladesh’s dressing room screamed for a move on even as the two stalwarts neared their centuries.

Shakib was put down on 84 when Shimron Hetmeyr put down a straightforward chance when the southpaw was on 84. He, however, failed to convert that chance into a hundred (would have been his 8th in ODIs) top-edging the impressive Bishoo while trying to sweep. Tamim got to his 10th hundred, off his 146th ball, amidst growing concerns of a sub-par total. After Sabbir was declared out stumped (incorrectly, his feet were grounded when the bails were taken off), Rahim breathed life into the innings with a buccaneering 11-ball 30 with three fours and two sixes, helping the team score 43 runs off the final two overs.

Rahim’s onslaught nothwithstanding, the blueprint to bowl on the wicket was clear. The pacers had found comfort in those back of the length deliveries and Mortaza was going to exploit that with a generous helping off the off-cutter varieties. Against two left-handed openers – Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis – a seamer angling the ball across and an offie was always going to be double the trouble.

And so it was, Mehidy Hasan and Mortaza kept the scoring to a trickle before Lewis found mid-off attempting to compensate for a slow Gayle start. At the end of the 10th over Windies found themselves at an identical 31 for 1. But where Bangladesh had Tamim-Shakib, Windies quickly lost Shai Hope after a couple of faulty DRS (non) usage. Mehidy should have had Gayle LBW from around the wicket but didn’t opt for the review. Off the immediate next ball, in the following over, Rubel Hossain, pinged Hope on the pads with a delivery that appeared to be missing leg on naked eye, but Hope returned the favour by not reviewing either.

Gayle didn’t build on his repreiv and was run-out for 40 in the 22nd over when the Windies chase was looking at him for direction and impetus. As the required rate climbed over 8, Jason Mohammed succumbed to its pressures. Shimron Hetmyer held one end with a 70-ball half-century but his cries for support from the other end were falling on deaf ears. Mortaza and the returning Mustafizur Rahman arrived with their bag of cutters to take the next five wickets as the Windies slipped hopelessly to 172 for 9 in the 41st over. The last-wicket pair of Bishoo and Alzarri Joseph saved some face by batting out 56 deliveries for a pair of 29s. The game, however, was long gone before their praiseworthy act of defiance.

Brief scores: Bangladesh 279/4 in 50 overs (Tamim Iqbal 130*, Shakib Al Hasan 97; Mushfiqur Rahim 30; Devendra Bishoo 2-52) beat Windies 231/9 in 50 overs (Shimron Hetmyer 52; Mashrafe Mortaza 4-37) by 48 runs.

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