Gazi bright spot on tough first day
Sohag Gazi is the first offspinner in Test history to bowl the first over of a Test match on debut, and the first debutant spinner to do so in 103 years.
The surprise move didn't ruffle Chris Gayle, though, who lashed the first ball of the match for a six, on his way to 18 runs in the opening over. Gazi removed Gayle soon after but despite his best efforts, West Indies scored more than four an over on the first day and are poised for a big total. This, after the hosts gave up the momentum they had gained at the end of the first session, picking up three wickets.
Bangladesh had to wait out a full session for their next wicket, as both Kieran Powell and Shivnarine Chanderpaul helped themselves to centuries. As the day progressed even the more experienced Bangladesh bowlers looked short of ideas, and later liveliness.
This was Bangladesh's first Test of the year, and none of the front-line bowlers, barring Shahadat Hossain, have played enough first-class cricket recently to be physically prepared for staying on the field for a long time. With the wicket easing up, more hard work lies ahead for them. Shahadat and Rubel Hossain were costly as they have been throughout their careers while Shakib Al Hasan was simply steady, mainly because the allrounder finds it tricky to switch between long stints as a Twenty20 bowler to bowling long spells in Test cricket.
"The wicket flattened out after the lunch session, but there was turn in the first hour," Gazi said after the first day. "We will try to bowl them out as quickly as we can. We don't have any sort of targets because the wicket is flat. We will try to keep them to as low a total as possible."
But it was the first session which showed Bangladesh in a positive light. Mushfiqur Rahim had decided quite early, in fact the day before, that it would be Gazi who would open the bowling regardless of who takes first strike for West Indies. So despite the inevitable attack, Gazi was only encouraged by his captain and to his credit, the debutant kept giving the ball flight. "He told me that Gayle wasn't comfortable with my bowling, that's why he gave me the charge. He said keep doing what you're doing.
"I was prepared to bowl the first over, whether Gayle took the strike or not," Gazi said. "It was my bad luck that I got hit for two sixes in the first over. I was going to bowl my second over, and I just wanted to bowl dot balls. I didn't really think of who was on strike."
The first-ball six was a jolt for Gazi, but he wasn't frazzled. "Anyone can hit a six, I wasn't expecting that exact shot. The ball I got him out turned slightly, because there was turn on the pitch in the first session. He tried to lift me over mid-on but mistimed it."
After he had picked up Gayle's wicket, Gazi added that of Darren Bravo before Shahadat Hossain accounted for Marlon Samuels. But they hit a wall in the form of the Powell-Chanderpaul partnership during the middle session and lost their way in the final two hours.
With West Indies sitting on a strong position after the first day, questions will be asked about the need for three off-spinning allrounders - Mahmudullah, Naeem Islam and Nasir Hossain. The trio bowled 16 wicketless overs and Gazi's introduction to international cricket could spell the end of Bangladesh's defensive ploy of employing eight batsmen and playing three similar allrounders. It is now clear that all three would have to make major contributions with the bat in the next four days to be automatic picks in the near future.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh