Bangladesh stutter after taking lead
Bangladesh 416 and 94 for 6 (Saleh 34*) lead West Indies 352 (Gayle 141, Mushfiqur 4-65) by 158 runs
Tino Best and Ramnaresh Sarwan transformed the first Test in St Lucia with four wickets in as many overs, as Bangladesh suffered a crippling bout of vertigo on the fourth afternoon of the match. After securing a first-innings lead of 90, Bangladesh slumped from a promising 70 for 2 to a perilous 94 for 6 at the close, with Rajin Saleh standing out from the wreckage with an unbeaten 34. Suddenly West Indies were favourites to win a match that had been out of their control since Mohammad Rafique's onslaught on the second day.
Whether it was Bangladesh's fear of the unknown, or a late resurgence of West Indian pride, it was difficult to tell. But either way, the catalyst for the collapse was the belated introduction of Best into the attack. He had been wound up like a top by his captain, Brian Lara, who had held him back until the 18th over of the innings and had even introduced Sarwan's leg-rollers ahead of him. If it was a deliberate motivational ploy, it certainly had the desired effect.
Bangladesh had already suffered and surmounted one second-innings wobble, after both openers had fallen in the space of six balls. For that they owed much to their captain and first-innings centurion, Habibul Bashar, who had been playing a judicious innings in partnership with the cool-headed Saleh. But with the introduction of Best, something snapped, and he was bowled while attempting to pull Best's second delivery through midwicket (70 for 3). Suddenly the floodgates were wide open again.
Mohammad Ashraful had not had time to settle when Sarwan offered up a rank full-toss, which he duly patted back to the bowler (73 for 4). In the next over, Faisal Hossain aimed a flat-footed drive out of the rough and squirted a catch straight to Chris Gayle at slip (79 for 5). One ball later, and Sarwan was on a hat-trick, as Mushfiqur Rahman played half-forward and was adjudged lbw to a ball that pitched on leg and would have hit halfway up middle (79 for 6). Such was the Bangladeshi disarray that Lara even had time to drop a sharp chance in the covers, off Hossain.
At the beginning of the innings, the West Indian bowlers had been as taut with nerves as the Bangladeshis, especially Fidel Edwards, who took several overs to find his range against Hannan Sarkar and Javed Omar. But, having swung the ball consistently past the right-hander's outside edge, Edwards produced a beauty to Sarkar that held its line and nicked the top of off stump, and in Pedro Collins's next over, Omar was strangled down the leg-side.
They may not yet have learned how to compile a decent second-innings total, but Bangladesh had earlier been reformed characters in the field, as they put their catching horrors behind them to secure only the third first-innings lead in their 29-match history. After resuming on 262 for 5, West Indies lost their last five wickets for 90, including three in three overs from Mushfiqur, who finished with his best Test figures of 4 for 65.
An 11-wicket day had not been on the cards when play eventually got underway after a two-and-a-half hour delay, and the rains returned to force an early tea as well. But in between, Bangladesh continued to bowl to disciplined lines, and earned their due rewards.
The big breakthrough came soon after lunch, when Gayle was caught for 141 by Bashar at first slip, off Tapash Baisya (312 for 6). It had been an innings of unusual circumspection from Gayle, but its value was soon plain to see. Best, perhaps the least convincing No. 8 in Test cricket, was stitched up and bowled by Rafique, before his fellow fast bowlers were lined up and knocked down by Mushfiqur. Ridley Jacobs, meanwhile, looked on from the non-striker's end, left high and dry on 46.