Easy pickings - Monday 09, December-2002

DHAKA, Bangladesh - The West Indies did what they had to do with clinical efficiency on the opening day of the first Test here yesterday but, even by the most sympathetic judgement, Bangladesh were hardly first-class, far less Test standard.

Given the misery the West Indies have gone through these past few years, it would be churlish to undervalue the kind of day they themselves have repeatedly endured on every point of the cricketing compass outside of the Caribbean.

Yet the plain truth is that they would have found more resistance from Spartan than they did from a Bangladesh team playing only its 16th Test, 14 of which have ended in heavy defeat, ten by an innings, the other drawn only through the courtesy of the weather.

It was inexperience compounded by selectors who included four teenagers in the eleven, one, Anwar Hossain, to open the batting on debut two days short of his 19th birthday, another, Talha Jubbair, exactly two years younger, to open the bowling.

They were at an immediate disadvantage when Ridley Jacobs called the toss right and chose to bowl on a pitch with more moisture content and grass covering than his bowlers had spotted in all their preceding travels through Sri Lanka and India.

They could not recover against bowling that maintained a full length and persistent off-stump line and were all out three-quarters of an hour after tea for 139.

Making the ball dart about off the pitch and occasionally through the cool, sunny air, Pedro Collins dismissed Hannan Sarkar with the first delivery of the match, one of three victims in a crippling opening spell of 11 overs. He added two more from 6.1 overs at the end.

Vasbert Drakes, the 33-year-old prodigal son recently returned to the West Indies team after an absence of over seven years, claimed a wicket with his fifth ball on his belated Test debut and returned to add three more as the last five Bangladesh wickets tumbled for 22.

Collins led the team off the field with five for 26. Drakes was not far behind with four for 61. They won't find easier success - unless it is the second innings or in the next of the two Tests in the series.

In the remaining 33 overs and two hours, the last hour played under the stadium floodlights, the left-handed openers Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds helped themselves to 19 fours in accumulating 118 together.

Gayle, unusually but ominously careful, was 44 and Hinds, whose 12 boundaries were mainly from crashing strokes through the covers, 73. A wide, difficult chance to Aminul Islam's left-hand at third slip when he was 20 off the lively young Jubair had already proved expensive and was likely to become increasingly so.

Bangladesh's woes began first ball, an inswinging yorker from Collins, left-arm over the wicket, that would have been too good for most batsmen and certainly was for Sarkar who lost his off-stump.

Collins, causing geometrical problems with the delivery cutting away from the right-handed batsman on the angle, clipped the outside edges of the talented teen, Mohammed Ashraful, and Bangladesh's best batsman,Habibul Basher, for catches to keeper and third slip.

Drakes despatched young Hossain with an outswinger edged to Jacobs for his maiden wicket in the next over and Bangladesh were quickly in disarray at 44 for five when Jermaine Lawson, replacing Drakes, claimed a plain lbw decision against Aminul Islam with hisfifth ball.

They were revived by a partnership of 73 between another of their teenagers Alok Kapali, 18, who showed courage and genuine talent for two hours, 20 minutes,in making 52 filled with nine classy fours, and captain KhaledMashud, 22.

Kapali had four when his right index finger was pinned against the handle of the bat and split by a sharp lifter from Lawson. He needed medical on-field attention, took a similar blow soon afterwards but never flinched.

A small, neat right-hander whose potential was obvious in his unbeaten 89 in the third One-Day International last Tuesday, Kapali drove through the off-side with flair and offered wristy strokes through square-leg and mid-wicket.

He was undeterred either by his injury or a missed chance by Daren Ganga at third slip off Lawson when 24 and he and his captain were causing the West Indies their first worries when Drakes returned to bowl Mashud with one that cut back sharply to hit off-stump.

Next over, he had Kapali lbw aiming to play to leg and he and Collins made light work of the tailenders.

It was yet another abject display to disappoint a crowd of around8 000 spread around the 30 000-capacity Bangabandhu Stadium and to further validate their former coach Gordon Greenidge's assertion when they were granted Test status two years ago that they weren't ready for it.


Bangladesh 1st innings

Hannan Sarkar b Collins 0

Anwar Hossain c wk Jacobs b Drakes 2

Mohammad Ashraful c wk Jacobs b Collins 6

Habibul Bashar c Ganga b Collins 24

Aminul Islam lbw b Lawson 5

Alok Kapali lbw b Drakes 52

Khaled Mashud b Drakes 22

Naimur Rahman c Gayle b Collins 1

Enamul Hoque b Collins 6

Tapas Baishya c wk Jacobs b Drakes 7

Talha Jubair not out 4

Extras (lb6 nb3 w1) 10

Total (all out, 54.1overs) 139

Fall of wickets: 1-0 2-4 3-25 4-40 5-44 6-117 7-118 8-124 9-135

Bowling: Collins 17.1-7-26-5 (nb2), Drakes 18-2-61-4 (nb1), Lawson 9-2-24-1, Powell 10-2-22-0 (w1)

West Indies 1st innings

C. Gayle not out 44

W. Hinds not out 73

Extras (nb1) 1

Total (without loss, 33 overs) 118

To bat: R.Jacobs, R.Sarwan, S.Chanderpaul, M.Samuels, D.Ganga, V.Drakes, P.Collins, D.Powell, J.Lawson

Bowling: Tapash Baishya 9-1-44-0 (nb1), Talha Zubair 6-0-31-0, Naimur Rahman 12-2-27-0, Enamul Haque 5-2-10-0, Mohammad Ashraful 1-0-6-0

Umpires: David Shephard (England), David Orchard (South Africa)

Third Umpire: Akhtaruddin Shahin (Bangladesh)

Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for over 50 years