West Indies thump reckless Bangladesh
Bangladesh became only the fourth ODI side to score 200 after having lost three wickets for under five, but that wasn't enough to avoid the series defeat to West Indies. Mushfiqur Rahim avoided an encore of 58 all out from the World Cup and Nassir Hossain gave them late runs to have something to bowl at, but the West Indies top order made short work of the short chase. Lendl Simmons registered his ninth fifty-plus score in 11 innings, anchoring the chase, as Danza Hyatt and Marlon Samuels provided the momentum from the other end.
That West Indies scored only two runs off the first 22 balls they faced suggested that they could afford to do so because of the small target but also clearer thinking, unlike the Bangladeshi batsmen. Bangladesh's has been a long struggle for middle ground against good attacks. Chasing big totals, they often tend to be too defensive once Tamim Iqbal gets out, as was the case two days ago. Their response to it was to bat first and go bang-bang. Nothing in between.
Playing recklessly on a track hardly offering any seam movement, Bangladesh wasted little time in registering their second-worst ODI start, 1 for 3. Imrul Kayes, usually guilty of getting stuck in chases, cut and edged the third delivery he faced, the fourth of the innings. Tamim sliced the second ball he faced to third man. Both had to make an effort to reach the ball. Mohammad Ashraful found an innovative way to apply for the assistant coach's position when he decided to give perfect catching practice to second slip off the fifth ball he faced. He did that almost stylishly, leaning back, opening the face late, guiding the ball straight to second slip, off the face. No batsman tried to get his eye in, none moved his feet closer to the line of the ball, but all tried to attack. With every edge you could hear the hush in the crowd.
Shakib Al Hasan counterattacked, as is his wont. His first two boundaries came square on the off side, off Kemar Roach's round-the-stumps angle. A touch carried away, Shakib now tried to go square off Ravi Rampaul's over-the-stumps bowling, with hardly any foot movement. The angle induced the edge, and the memories of March came back.
On his 27th birthday, Rampaul happily accepted two gifts at the top, and Roach benefitted like boy who usually benefits by just being beside the birthday boy. The two, though, followed the four early wickets with testing spells to Kapali and Mushfiqur. The first four wickets came without having to strive for them, but it took 14.3 overs and many accurate bouncers to dislodge the next man, Kapali. Perhaps it was because the batsmen grew less muddled in their approach.
Mushfiqur traded graft for flash, and found support from the other end. He added 40 with Kapali, who, it must be said, undid all his good work by top-edging Roach in what could have been last over. He and Rampaul had already bowled 12 out of the first 18 overs, and Darren Sammy surely couldn't have afforded to attack much longer.
Naeem Islam was dropped in the next over, when he refused to learn from an edge through vacant slip. He drove away at the following ball, but Sammy missed him. A soft return catch to Samuels ended a charmed but threatening 57-run stand, and at 115 for 6 it seemed Mushfiqur might be playing a lone hand.
In Nasir, though, he found a solid partner. Nasir batted just like Mushfiqur: keeping the good balls out, looking for the singles, and pushing for twos. Towards the end he exploded, scoring 24 off the last 14 balls he played. Add Abdur Razzak's 25 off 19, and Bangladesh still had a target that could be interesting if they were extraordinary with the ball, and if the pitch misbehaved.
Neither happened. Bangladesh were steady at best, the pitch true. Simmons and Hyatt took their time before Hyatt's block-or-tonk approach began eating into the target. He hit four sixes and two fours in his 39 before Rubel Hossain caught him low and diving forward at long-off off the bowling of Shakib, who had earlier dropped the same man off Rubel's bowling.
Simmons, though, played maturely, like a man determined to stay there till the end. All he needed was a punch here, a pull there, a nudge here, a deflection there. He hit only one four and one six in his first fifty runs. It helped that the target was low, and that Samuels batted smoothly, staying leg side of the ball, piercing the off-side fields with ease, even against the turn, even from outside leg.
Simmons accelerated after reaching fifty, raising the possibility of a hundred, but fell lbw to Shakib with 39 still required. Samuels, who had slowed down a touch to allow Simmons a best chance to go for the hundred, now opened up well and proper, scoring 36 off the next 17 balls to seal West Indies' first series win over a Test opponent since 2008, when they beat Sri Lanka at home.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo