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The Wisden Verdict by Paul Coupar at Southampton
September 15, 2004
It was a bittersweet day for everyone at this beautiful ground, an autumn picture in green and white. West Indies won by 138 runs, set up by an opening stand of 192 that was one of their highest of all (eight short of their record), but not their best. Nor did they skittle Bangladesh quickly enough to pass the run-rate of their rivals in the group, South Africa: if the decider falls victim to autumn rains, South Africa will be smiling their way into the semis. Meanwhile, Bangladesh bowled well but fielded and batted badly. And the ICC got the sixth one-sided match of the tournament - but at least the rains they feared stayed away and the sun shone.
Bangladesh's bowlers bowled accurately, and by rights should have conceded about 240. Their fielders gave away the rest to allow West Indies to escape to 269. Nazmul Hossain, a 16-year-old seamer, bowled a superb spell of 7-1-20-0 with the new white ball, much of it walking the tightrope of a 7--2 off-side field. Like English county workhorses down the years he put the ball on a handkerchief-sized spot on a full length outside off stump, and found a touch of seam movement. He did it all with a whippy action, a little like James Kirtley's.
Nazmul was helped by the fact the West Indian openers, Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds, seemed only to have two gears, neutral and fifth. It is hard to criticise two men who have put on 192 together. On a slightly spongy pitch, against bowlers between 70 and 80mph, timing big shots was difficult. But neither managed to work the ball around effectively.
It was the 40th over when Hinds was finally budged. Partly that was because Bangladesh have no true strike bowler - looking round the field there was no one much above 5ft 11ins. Largely it was because their fielders (who shifted from one position to another between overs more than expected) missed five catchable chances. Two were tricky, three were simple. Still, at least the drops kept Brian Lara in the pavilion. When he did finally emerge, in the 43rd over, he walloped 20 in seven balls before Tapash Baisya, who ended with two well-deserved wickets, showed his fielders how to do it, picking up in his follow-through, turning and throwing down the stumps as Lara, the non-striker, backed up too far.
If Bangladesh's bowling was better than the scorecard revealed, the batting was worse: from 26 for 5 the tail only revelled in the freedom of a lost cause. Merv Dillon bowled two good bouncy spells for 10-4-29-5, his best one-day figures. The Bangladeshis, unused to the bounce, failed to move their feet and fell to shots with crooked bats. They have reached 200 in only 25 of their 95 one-dayers. Here they reched 131. But there was hope in their bowling, and in a note in today's match programme, which informed readers that Bangladesh's population is 141.3 million. Probability suggests there are a few more Nazmul Hossains out there.
Paul Coupar is assistant editor of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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