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Warrican's discipline gives West Indies hope

There is still a lot of cricket left to play but the left-arm spinner has done well to put his team in a decent position

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Jomel Warrican and Jermaine Blackwood celebrate a wicket, Bangladesh vs West Indies, 1st Test, Chattogram, day 1, February 3, 2021

Jomel Warrican concentrated on bringing the Bangladesh batsmen forward  •  AFP via Getty Images

In the build-up to this Test match, Bangladesh's four-pronged spin attack and Rahkeem Cornwall captured most of the airwaves, column inches and bytes. Nobody mentioned Jomel Warrican, the left-arm spinner from St. Vincent.
Like Cornwall, Warrican had also been among the wickets in the warm-up match against the BCB XI. He was actually one of the few success stories in West Indies' 2018 tour of Bangladesh and now that he's back he is one of the few players in this squad with some experience of playing in Bangladesh. Warrican was always going to play second fiddle to Cornwall, but the day ended with him picking up three crucial top-order wickets, a performance that perhaps gave his team much needed breathing space on what has so far been a tough tour.
It is still very early days but their start now is very similar to the one from the 2018 Test series. Back then, Bangladesh's spinners took control from the second day, but this West Indies team is deeply motivated to overturn the results of their last tour here.
Warrican, who finished with 3 for 58 from his 24 overs, said that he had very little margin for error on a generally batting-friendly first-day wicket."Pitch is very good for batting," he said. "Big Jim (Cornwall) got turn when the ball was a bit harder. As the ball got older, you could see how good the wicket was. You had to be disciplined today in order to get wickets and build pressure.
"[Key to getting his wickets was] being accurate and disciplined at the same time, and setting the right fields. I won't say that the pitch had a lot of assistance today. I got some balls to turn but it wasn't turning consistently. I had to be disciplined and bowl the ball in the right areas."
Warrican said that the main challenge was drawing the Bangladesh batsmen on to the front foot, as they preferred to play spinners off the back foot. "I think they played well. They kept their patience for a bit. I think as a bowling unit we let them off in the last session. Till then we were controlling the scoring very well," he said.
"I find that they like to hang back a lot so therefore you have to try to bring them to the front foot as much as possible. When they play back, they have a lot of time. The more you bring them to the front foot, the more you ask questions," he said.
Warrican was mostly bowling within himself in when, finally, after nine overs and with Bangladesh trying to recover from two early wickets, he trapped Mominul Haque. It turned out to be a pivotal moment on the day because, until then, Haque, Bangladesh's captain and a man with six hundreds at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, had been part of an excellent left-handed partnership that threatened all of Warrican's plans.
After playing out a string of dot balls, Haque spooned one to short midwicket where John Campbell juggled to complete the catch. A couple of overs later, he had Shadman Islam lbw after a painstaking 59 for which he spent almost four hours at the crease. Two set batsmen gone, leaving the more senior Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan tackle the overs leading up to the tea break.
In the post-tea session, Warrican had Rahim caught at slip. It was another untimely blow for Bangladesh. It came at an opportune time for West Indies though as another partnership was fermenting for 18 overs, and one that looked to pick up the pace of the Bangladesh innings.
The home side ended the day on 242 for 5, a safe score but well below par for the first day's play at this venue and in Bangladesh, generally. Shadman later said that they lost one too many wickets on a good batting pitch, but it is unlikely to repeat on the second day.
"Today's wicket was really good for us. I think we lost too many wickets due to our lacking, but I hope that we will get a bigger score and a better day, seeing how Shakib bhai and Liton Das were batting today. I don't think we have to face these problems tomorrow," he said.
Shadman said that he should have taken a review when he was given out lbw, but at the time he believed that the Warrican delivery was hitting the stumps. "Maybe I got out to the wrong shot. I thought it was in line and would be hitting the wicket. That's why I didn't take the review. I was disappointed but its part of the match. Mushfiq bhai asked me what happened, and I told him the same thing."
He however didn't read too much into the West Indies' bowling performance. "We play spin well in our first-class competitions. We play spin every day in the nets, so I thought it was quite normal. I could bat well. I didn't think they created so much pressure."
Shadman.may yet be right in his early assessment. In the corresponding Test match in 2018, Bangladesh were 315 for 8 at stumps on the first day. Warrican had an unremarkable 2 for 62, which he quickly converted to career-best figures of 4 for 62 on the second morning, but Bangladesh were so dominant thereafter, he was easily forgotten.
There's a lot of cricket left in this Test match, but this is the sort of first day West Indies would have eagerly wanted as they prepared for this game for the last three weeks. Warrican has his work cut out in the second morning, and then he must hope that the West Indies batsmen can actually overturn their fortunes, which they said was their main motivating factor in this series.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84