Bashar leads the way for Bangladesh
Bangladesh 278 for 7 (Bashar 113, Ashraful 65*) v West Indies
A century from Habibul Bashar, the captain, boosted Bangladesh to 278 for 7 on the opening day of the first Test in St Lucia. On a slow pitch good for batting, Bangladesh recovered from losing a wicket the very first ball to reach a respectable score, with Bashar leading the way and Mohammad Ashraful chipping in with an unbeaten 65.
After they opted to bat, Bangladesh made the very worst start possible to the match, and indeed the series, when Hannan Sarkar was trapped lbw first ball to a Pedro Collins inswinger. But if West Indies thought it was going to be a breeze in the park, then Omar and Bashar made them think again. They took advantage of some wide and wayward bowling with a host of cuts and pulls to the boundary.
Jermaine Lawson, playing in his first Test since this time last year, made a rusty start to his comeback, but the rest of the pace attack weren't much better either. Too many balls were wide and inaccurate, and the batsmen put them away with ease. Lara was forced to bring on the part-time medium pace of Dwayne Smith as early as the 18th over to try and assert some control.
Bashar did have one stroke of luck when he was dropped on 27 by Smith at short leg off Fidel Edwards, but Bashar and Omar made it look easy. Bashar brought up his half-century with a pull for four off Edwards, and then square-drove the next ball for his sixth boundary and the shot of the day.
He wasn't finished there, he then coolly flicked Collins for another four to bring up the hundred as Bangladesh continued to cruise along. Next stop for Bashar was the century, which he brought up in the afternoon session. It was an important innings for his side, setting the tone for the day and making Brian Lara and his men realise that Bangladesh were not going to be a push over.
He put on a handy stand with Rajin Saleh, who scored 26, before Bashar himself was caught by Smith off Lawson for his impressive 113 (171 for 3). Saleh was then caught behind by Ridley Jacobs from Ramnaresh Sarwan (227 for 4), and just when West Indies began to assert some control, Rahman made sure Bangladesh took the honours with a gutsy 65 not out.
Bangladesh did lose three quick wickets towards the close, but they will be pleased with a satisfying first day, while West Indies will rue some inconsistent and disappointing bowling.