December 2, 2002

Sarwan, Drakes shine in West Indies victory

Good things certainly come to those who wait. Ramnaresh Sarwan had to wait until today to score his first international hundred, failing to do so in 27 Test matches and an equal number of one-day games. Though on many occasions he had come close, Sarwan finally got the monkey off his back with a sterling knock of 102 against Bangladesh at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, taking West Indies to an emphatic 84-runs victory under lights.

After Sarwan had set it up with the bat, it was the wily Vasbert Drakes' turn to destroy the Bangladesh batting line up with an inspired medium-pace bowling (9-4-18-4). West Indies took a 1-0 lead in the three-match one-day series, with the first game abandoned due to rain. The teams meet in the third and final encounter tomorrow in a day-night game at the same venue.

West Indies never looked like posting a big total after electing to bat on a track that kept very low in the first 25 overs. Too low, effectively killing any sort of strokeplay. The tourists lost their hard-hitting opener Wavell Hinds for a duck, lbw to Tapash Baisya. West Indies were losing the plot, struggling to 77/2 at the end of the 25th over, having lost the valuable wicket of Chris Gayle (21) in the process.

Marlon Samuels and Ramnaresh Sarwan, the two young batting hopes, dug in deep, calling on all reserves of concentration to keep out the balls that kept too low for comfort. Samuels smashed a couple of sixes to make his intentions very clear; he stepped up the tempo and went on to make 82 off 119 balls, yet another elegant knock. The third-wicket partnership between Samuels and Sarwan yielded 146 valuable runs.

Sarwan played exceedingly well, using his feet to get to the pitch of the ball, and striking the ball nicely through the gaps. With the final over to be bowled, Sarwan was on 97, inching closer to his maiden hundred. With all the pressure on his young shoulders, Sarwan almost choked, stuck on 98 with the final ball off the innings to be bowled. A thick outside edge off a swipe at a full toss rushed past the ropes at third man, and Sarwan was celebrating (102 off 100 balls). West Indies had made 266/4 in their allotted 50 overs, with Daren Ganga unbeaten on 22.

Bangladesh had a dreadful start to the chase, losing opening batsman Al Sahariar for a first-ball duck. Drakes had drawn first blood and found a good rhythm to trouble the Bangladesh batsmen. He struck twice in two balls in the ninth over, removing debutant Ehsanul Haque (9) and Habibul Bashar (0).

The hosts were in deep trouble, losing six wickets with just 94 on the board. A 72-run partnership for the seventh wicket between skipper Khaled Mashud (41) and Naimur Rahman (37) delayed the inevitable. Drakes broke the partnership, brilliantly running out Rahman, and then picked up his fourth wicket - Mohammad Rafique caught by Sarwan for a duck. Cameron Cuffy claimed the wickets of Khaled Mashud and Manjural Islam as Bangladesh were bowled out for 182 in 48 overs.