Wrong 'un helps Narine move in right direction
Sunil Narine made his debut for West Indies on December 5, 2011, against India. In the one year since, he has not come full circle. In fact, recently, international cricket has been rocky ground for him, with wickets being scarce. So, on Wednesday in Mirpur, it must have been a relief for the West Indies dressing room, seeing their lead spinner bowl like one; Narine took four wickets, including that of Tamim Iqbal with one that went the other way, as West Indies beat Bangladesh to stay alive in the five-match ODI series.
His change in fortunes could be down to that wrong 'un. Mahmudullah, who faced Narine for a few deliveries, said that he had brought out the delivery, one that has been troubling Bangladesh, in the one-dayers. "I think he didn't use his wrong one, the mystery delivery, in the Tests," Mahmudullah said after Bangladesh's four-wicket loss. "He started using it in the one-dayers in Khulna, and that too effectively.
"The pace [of Narine's deliveries] was quite good and the pitch today was a bit difficult, so the ball was gripping. He bowled well, perhaps got a bit of assistance from the wicket too. We will try to pick him better next time, watch his videos a little more ..."
While Narine had to turn his form around, Marlon Samuels didn't. In the preceding Tests, he recorded a career-best of 260; now he topped his one-day best, with a knock of 126 that guaranteed West Indies suffered no hiccup after Narine had ensured they were chasing a moderate target.
Samuels' was a battling innings, on a track that wasn't built for pretty shots. He had a stoic expression throughout the innings, while dealing with the two-paced nature of the pitch and unreliable bounce, with some deliveries jumping from a good length while one or two kept quite low. He just did was a senior player needed to do, Samuels said: "I am a senior player now, so I have to take the responsibility. I don't mind the extra pressure. I am aware of things I have said before, and I have to deliver. A senior player had to stand up and be counted, and I did it."
Having decided to bat at No. 3 himself, Samuels dominated a 111-run second-wicket stand with Kieran Powell before chipping away at the target with Darren Bravo, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard and Devon Thomas. None of these batsmen looked convincing against spin but Samuels stood firm at most times. The exception was when Samuels was on 96, when Mashrafe Mortaza dropped him at slip off part-time left-arm spinner Mominul Haque. Samuels said of the particular delivery: "That ball spun sharp after pitching. It was a difficult chance for a fast bowler standing in the slips. That one would have had to stuck, fortunately it didn't.
"I wasn't worried about him dropping a catch there. I was focused on batting right through. It was a difficult pitch to bat on, so runs on the board were always going to be difficult to [chase down]. I went to bat at No. 3 because I thought I had the technique to bat against spin, and the rest of the batsmen could do the job around me."
This was Samuels' fourth ODI hundred, and it took him 140 balls to get there. Soon after, he addressed his strike-rate, going into overdrive against Rubel Hossain in the 45th over. He drilled the fast bowler for three consecutive fours, before launching him straight, twice, for sixes. It was an over that put the game firmly beyond Bangladesh, and it was premeditated Samuels said: "After my century I would have taken on any bowler that came on from that end. It is unfortunate [for Rubel that he] came on from that end."
West Indies have kept themselves in contention in this series but to win the next two games they would probably need more contributions from Narine and Samuels, as the rest of the batting and bowling looked thin once again.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh