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Match Analysis

Joshua Da Silva, the glue that has kept West Indies together

During the course of the series, Da Silva has been part of many crucial partnerships to help West Indies out of the woods

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Joshua Da Silva plays one onto the off side, Bangladesh vs West Indies, 1st Test, Chattogram, Day 5, February 7, 2021

Joshua Da Silva top-scored for West Indies in the first innings of the Dhaka Test  •  AFP via Getty Images

When he was asked about the key factors behind their stunning win in the first Test in Chattogram, West Indies coach Phil Simmons highlighted the importance of partnerships, among the first things he mentioned. Certainly, the batting partnerships have been West Indies' biggest weapon in this series, and the common name in many crucial stands has been Joshua Da Silva.
Da Silva added 99 for the sixth wicket with Jermaine Blackwood in the first innings in Chattogram, which helped West Indies get past the follow-on score.
After Kyle Mayers and Nkrumah Bonner stitched together 216 in the second innings, Da Silva and Mayers added 100 for the sixth wicket to take the side to the cusp of victory. One might say that Da Silva's contribution was only 20, but with Blackwood having got out shortly before, a wicket at that stage would have brought Bangladesh back into the game.
On Friday, in the first innings of the second Test in Dhaka, Da Silva top-scored with 92, and as much as he felt miserable to miss out on a maiden Test century, he once again showed the way of combining with other batsmen to put the pressure back on the opposition. He was involved in an 88-run sixth-wicket stand with Bonner, which again got West Indies out of the woods when they had been reduced to 178 for 5 on the first day.
But what has perhaps changed the complexion of the game was his 118-run seventh-wicket stand with No. 9 Alzarri Joseph. A developing allrounder, Joseph contributed 71 runs in the partnership and as much as that hurt Bangladesh's footing in the game, Da Silva's presence at the other end ensured the bowlers had nowhere to go for a considerably long time on the second day.
Joseph offered an interesting insight into how Da Silva guided the partnership, by breaking down their task into the blocks of ten runs. According to Joseph, Da Silva has been a seasoned presence at crease despite playing only his third Test.
"[Da Silva's] encouragement to build partnerships, to look at small totals, every ten runs, start over from zero again to score another ten runs, and again another ten runs, and in a matter of no time, we had an 80-run partnership.
"When I came to the crease, it was just to bat some time and support Josh at the crease. Josh has been batting really well. It is only his third Test and he is showing real maturity with the bat and also behind the stumps. His game is coming along really well."
At least during the course of this tour, Da Silva has improved from a rookie who was dropped from the ODI side after two single-digit scores to a reliable batsman in the Test side.
Things that have stood out in his batting are his soft hands while defending the ball, as well as the use of the depth of the crease while cutting or pulling the spinners. Da Silva said that he has been working on this aspect with the batting coach Monty Desai.
"I have always been a good player of spin, so I adapted my game to lower wickets. It is a little similar to home but in a different situation, so I am playing my part. I try to pick the line and length as early as possible. I worked with Monty, our batting coach, on moving forward and back positively and making that decision early."
Resuming the day on 22, Da Silva hit several punches off the back foot through the off side, as well as collected plenty of runs by gliding the ball behind point. It forced the Bangladesh spinners to bowl more at the stumps, and that gave Da Silva the opportunity to play the pulls and sweeps. He even brought out the reverse sweep a couple of times.
Da Silva is among a group of young cricketers that the West Indies team management has been carrying around during the pandemic. He went to England to play the two practice matches, and even kept wickets during the Manchester Test after Shane Dowrich got injured. He made his Test debut in the subsequent New Zealand tour, where he showed his temperament with a second-innings fifty.
Da Silva gives West Indies an interesting little conundrum when Dowrich becomes available in the near future. Certainly, a competition for the wicketkeeping spot will strengthen the Test side.
Da Silva's batting improvement also means he has a chance of playing only as a batsman, too. His ability to put together partnerships, particularly in a tour where he had to learn on the fly, is going to work in his favour in the coming months.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84