Bangladesh dropped five catches, missed a run-out opportunity, didn’t review a decision that could have gone their way and one edge went unheard. And that’s only in the Windies’ first innings. The opponent’s best batter got three reprieves. Despite all that, without much luck or support from the fielders, Bangladesh registered a remarkable bowling performance and got the West Indies dismissed for 265. It was the second-lowest total in a team’s first innings (excluding Zimbabwe) conceded by Bangladesh outside Asia.
What would have happened if Bangladesh had grabbed even half of those chances? When you fail this miserably with the bat, you have to convert half chances into full ones. Fielding and awareness remain Bangladesh’s eternal problems which need to be solved quickly.
But let’s now talk about the bowlers and how they pulled off a brilliant bowling performance against all odds.
Bangladesh were without Taskin Ahmed, their premier fast bowler, and Shoriful Islam. That forced them to bring back Mustafizur Rahman, who is not even in the list of annual Test contracts. Mustafizur’s last Test prior to this match was a year and a half ago and he didn’t even play a first-class match during this period. The warm-up match where he bowled five overs was his only red-ball stint ahead of the match.
But the ‘reluctant’ Mustafizur was Bangladesh’s best bowler on day one. He was the one who got the first West Indies wicket by dismissing John Campbell. But he didn’t enjoy the support of luck as three catches were dropped off him. The left-arm seamer maintained a tight line and length and had an economy rate of just 1.7.
Khaled Ahmed opened the bowling with Mustafizur and was accurate as well and the duo didn’t let the West Indies openers open the account in the first five overs. The right-arm seamer was impressive in South Africa earlier this year and this time around he removed the highest scorers of the hosts – Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood. He was seen speaking to fast bowling coach Allan Donald at the boundary line and it was refreshing to see him trying new variations like the knuckleball and the cutter even in this format to deceive batters.
Ebadot Hossain was the more impressive of the three seamers, especially on the second day. He is the paciest Bangladesh bowler and when he gets it right, it becomes a problem for the batters. He struggled to remain economical in the last few Test matches but in this Test, he has shown great control and maturity. Graphics showed that the ball moved 0.8 degrees when the ball pitched on the grassy areas of the pitch compared to 0.4° when pitched on the bare areas. Ebadot constantly landed the ball on those grassy areas and was able to extract more advantage than the other seamers. Ian Bishop, on air, heaped praises on Ebadot for that. He got two wickets but could have easily got three if someone heard the outside-edge.
Skipper Shakib Al Hasan got Bangladesh off the mark on day two when his beautiful arm ball went through Nkrumah Bonner who had absolutely no answers to it. But it was Mehidy Hasan Miraz who turned the match on its head just before the tea break.
Miraz previously got Kyle Mayers out three times in international cricket and Shakib brought him on immediately after Mayers walked out to bat. It was a match-up and the move paid dividends as Miraz got him out almost in the same manner as the last time.
Then he dismissed Joshua Da Silva and Alzarri Joseph out almost in the same fashion as he got the ball to drift away. And West Indies’ final wicket was most fittingly taken by Miraz. It was a happy return for the all-rounder (4/59) after recovering from an injury.
“I think the pitch was a little bit on the slower side. It was the right decision to hit the same area continuously. I then decided to focus on bowling dot balls. I went for wickets in my first couple of spells. Then I decided to dry up the runs. I thought if I could maintain an economy rate of two and a half, wickets would come and that’s what happened,” explained Miraz in the press conference at the end of the day’s play.
In Bangladesh’s last six away Tests including the ongoing one, they got the opponents all-out eight times in 10 innings which suggests a marked improvement in bowling but it’s the batting and the fielding that need a big overhaul in order to start winning Tests.