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October 13, 2011
After 53 international innings across formats, most of them as an opener, Lendl Simmons hit his first century in the opening ODI against Bangladesh. Simmons was relieved to break his century jinx and termed the match-winning effort as "one of the most memorable moments" of his life.
"It was a special knock today," Simmons said. "I had got starts against Pakistan and India [in the recent home season], but I couldn't convert them into hundreds. I would like to dedicate today's effort to my mum and daughter".
Simmons' fluent 122 guided West Indies to 298, a score that they defended comfortably under lights. He was pleased with the conditions he confronted, while the new playing conditions of separate new balls from either end must have assisted his stroke play.
"The pitch was nice, the ball came on to the bat," Simmons said. "I was trying to get the pace of the wicket as fast as possible. We didn't get the start we wanted in the first five overs but by the end of the first Powerplay we got to our target. Then we just went on with the momentum."
Simmons began with assurance in the company of Adrian Barath, his Trinidad & Tobago opening partner. Barath retired hurt after 15 overs, but Simmons and Marlon Samuels controlled the middle overs easily to set up West Indies' charge for a big score.
"I am now stepping into being a senior player in the team," Simmons said. "Adrian Barath is a junior guy from T&T and we played a lot of cricket back home and have a good understanding. I hope we can blossom well as an opening pair.
"Marlon has some good form and he is showing his abilities as a good batsman. He dominated the Twenty20 and today he showed his class. He has been an inspiration. All the guys see that he has form. Our partnership was a good one and it got us to a good score."
Bangladesh struggled to make an impact with the ball, before their batsmen lost steam in a poorly paced chase. Their captain Mushfiqur Rahim said his bowlers had been up against conditions that did not assist spin.
"Our main strength is our slow bowlers, especially in our home conditions, but unfortunately the pitch was not like the one during the Twenty20 match," Mushfiqur said. "The spinners didn't get any turn from this pitch, and hence got frustrated. It was a batting paradise. Our spinners always get extra advantage here, but it was not the case today.
"This wicket initially remains dry and, in the latter part of the innings, dew becomes a factor. That's why we took the decision of fielding first but unfortunately the ball came on very well [in the first half itself]."
Bangladesh's chase was disrupted early, by opener Imrul Kayes not being allowed to bat for the first 15 minutes. He had been off the field during the closing stages of the West Indies innings. Naeem Islam was promoted in Kayes' place and he did not give the innings momentum. He scored 52 off 82 balls before he was the second man out at 122 in the 28th over.
"It was a very good batting wicket but we could not apply ourselves properly," Mushfiqur said. "If someone like Imrul or Naeem from the top order could carry their innings to the end, it might have even been possible for us to chase down the total. You know Naeem was in a good form after the way he played in the preparation matches."
Bangladesh have to win the second ODI on October 15 to stay alive in the three-match series.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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