December 17, 2002

Bangladesh fight back after conceding 102-run lead

The second day of the second Test between Bangladesh and the West Indies at Chittagong saw the hosts enjoy as good a day's play as they are likely to get for some time. Beginning the day with the West Indies on 38 for one, Bangladesh restricted the visitors to 296 and themselves put on 40 second-innings runs without losing a wicket. The minnows now trail by just 62 runs.

On a wicket that really had nothing in it for either fast or slow bowlers, the West Indians should have scored much more than their eventual 296. While the Bangladeshi opening bowlers did show enough and more enthusiasm, theirs is not an attack that strikes fear in the minds of batsmen.

Easily the pick of the bowlers, 19-year-old Tapash Baisya impressed with his ability to bowl a good line at pace. While not being express-quick, Baisya's whippy action caused the ball to skid through quickly on more than one occasion and earned him four for 72. Scalping the crucial wickets of Wavell Hinds and Ridley Jacobs, Baisya kept the hosts in the hunt at all times.

Perhaps encouraged by the freshness in the wicket, the Bangladesh bowlers made early inroads into the West Indian batting line-up. The prodigious movement in the air and off the pitch meant that both Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan struggled to regain their fluency of the past few months. Gayle in particular was in trouble; although he got away a few of his trademark booming drives, his footwork was abysmal, and he played and missed constantly at the ball outside the off.

It was thus only a matter of time before a wicket fell, and Sarwan was the first to go. With the score on 53, the right-hander was taken nicely by Khaled Mashud off left-arm seamer Manjural Islam, sparring at a ball angled across him.

Gayle's dismissal was a reward for young pacer Talha Jubair. After having beaten him many times outside the off-stump, Jubair finally got one to nip back off the pitch. Gayle shouldered arms, but the ball moved just enough to clip off-stump.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul fell 25 runs later, unnecessarily trying to work a short ball to leg. Enamul Haque's delivery turned further to leg, and Chanderpaul only got glove on it for Mashud to snap up a fine catch down the legside. Marlon Samuels too flattered to deceive. After pulling off a few fine shots, including the first six of the innings, Samuels tried another ambitious stroke and was caught off Jubair for 31.

The hosts did well to pick wickets at regular intervals and were only held up by Daren Ganga and Ridley Jacobs, who posted a 99-run partnership for the sixth wicket.

Resuming after lunch at 149 for five, the West Indies went through a period of consolidation as the Bangladeshi spinners attempted to tighten the screws.

Ganga, who has the curious record of playing Tests in several countries without yet playing one at home, was particularly impressive. Batting with consummate ease, the graceful right-hander struck 10 boundaries ­ mostly flowing drives through the off-side in his 106-ball stay at the wicket.

But just when it looked as if Ganga would go on to score his maiden Test ton, he threw it all away. Coming down the wicket and lofting offie Sanwar Hossain to midwicket, Ganga watched in dismay as Baisya took a well-judged catch. Ganga made 63 -­ the highest individual score in this match at the moment.

Continuing in his solid vein, Jacobs helped himself to 59 before being caught behind off the bowling of Baisya as the West Indies posted a first-innings score of 296.

Especially good when he played back down the ground, Jacobs lofted two sixes and six boundaries in his forceful innings. With Vasbert Drakes chipping in with a handy 26, the West Indies notched up a first-innings lead of 102.

In response, openers Hannan Sarkar (batting 12) and the experienced Al-Sahariar (batting 21) capped a profitable day for Bangladesh by taking the score to 40 for no loss. While they still trail by 62, Bangladesh are in a position to stretch the West Indies if they apply themselves and bat out the whole of the third day. Unlikely yes, but stranger things have happened in this game.