December 18, 2002

West Indies complete clean sweep with comprehensive win

Bangladesh enjoyed one of their better Test matches at the MA Aziz Stadium in Chittagong. While they did put on the kind of showing that just about begins to explain why they were given Test status in the first place, Bangladesh could not do enough to stop the West Indies from winning the game by seven wickets and sweeping this series 2-0.

Despite losing three wickets in a harried spell of play, the men from the Caribbean sprinted to victory in under 22 overs.

Needing a mere 111 runs for victory, the West Indies decided to leave themselves a couple of days free to shop, take a breather by the pool or do whatever else it is that touring teams do when they finish Test matches inside three days.

As you would expect, the impetuous Chris Gayle clattered 37 from 31 balls, with nine cleanly struck boundaries to set the visitors in their way. Ramnaresh Sarwan, who has scored his maiden Test and one-day tons in this series helped himself to 13 before holing out trying to force the pace.

While Wavell Hinds would have liked to fatten his batting average up a bit, he was given out lbw on 26 to a Tapash Baisya delivery that appeared to be slipping down the leg side.

Marlon Samuels however, ensured that there was no further joy for the hosts, chalking up an unbeaten 15, sealing West Indies' victory. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, solid as ever, contributed 19.

When the day began, it was one filled with hope for the hosts. At 40 for no loss, they were a mere 62 runs behind and had all 10 second-innings wickets in hand. Talented young batsmen eager to showcase their wares came up against a West Indian pace quartet that was not exactly of the highest pedigree.

Hannan Sarkar and Al-Sahariar had every chance to put up a strong resistance and wear out the West Indians on a third-day wicket. Ironically it was the track itself that claimed the first wicket when a straight one from Vasbert Drakes kept low and sneaked under the defensive prod of Sarkar (13).

Coming in at number three, Habibul Bashar became the first of four ducks in the Bangladesh innings. A snorter from Pedro Collins jumped from a length and kissed glove before sailing into the waiting hands of stumper Ridley Jacobs.

Sanwar Hossain and Al-Sahariar then effected a recovery of sorts, adding 31 for the third wicket, taking the hosts on to 76 before the former fell, once again with liberal help from the wicket. Darren Powell hit a crack on a line just outside the off-stump and this cause the ball to break back viciously, trapping Al-Sahariar plumb in front and ending his innings on 34.

The most promising of Bangladesh's batsmen, Mohammed Ashraful got well-set and played some handsome strokes before an indiscretion cost him dear. Playing a loose shot to a wide delivery from Jermaine Lawson, Ashraful (15) only managed to find Sarwan at point and Bangladesh were 126 for five.

Having lost half their side with a lead of just 24 on the board, there was every chance that the hosts would succumb meekly, but Alok Kapali would have none of that sort of defeatist attitude. While winning himself many fans during a colourful stay at the wicket, the middle-order batsman also served up a fitting answer to cynics who have remonstrated in vain at Bangladesh's elevation to the highest stage.

For a young man playing in a team so far behind its opponents in terms of experience and skill, Kapali's innings was one of character. While leaving the truly dangerous deliveries alone, Kapali went after anything that was too wide or too full and, more often than not, found the fence. Spending a little more than two-and-a-half hours at the wicket, Kapali's 111-ball stay at the crease yielded a match-high 85 runs. Twelve boundaries and two sixes kept the vociferous crowd interested and gave them something to cheer about.

Alas, it was a lone hand in a battle already lost. While Enamul Haque stayed at the wicket 64 balls for his 11, none of the other lower order batsmen showed the same sort of conviction. The tail in particular proved to be particularly frail, with the last four wickets falling for the addition of just two runs.

The West Indies pace quartet made the best of the situation at hand, as Pedro Collins and Powell picked up three wickets apiece while Vasbert Drakes and Lawson accounted for the remaining four.