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Match Analysis

Fluent Kyle Mayers provides yet another rescue act for West Indies

Once again, when the chips were down, he managed to wrest back the momentum and leave Bangladesh deflated

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
26-Jun-2022
Kyle Mayers acknowledges the crowd after his ton, West Indies vs Bangladesh, 2nd Test, St Lucia, 2nd day, June 25, 2022

Kyle Mayers acknowledges the crowd after his ton  •  Randy Brooks/AFP via Getty Images

Kyle Mayers' batting average was bound to come down from 250.00 since his debut Test. A dream start such as his, an unbeaten 210 leading West Indies to a 395-run chase against Bangladesh in Chattogram last year, was always going to be a hard act to follow. Mayers' was an exceptional innings, never done before by a debutant.
As he got to his second Test century with a very Caribbean swivel-pull shot on his toes, he once again released the pressure from the West Indies in a tight situation against Bangladesh. It was a quiet appreciation of Mayers' application of his overall skills, aside from the obvious stroke play. As has been the theme of his short career so far, Mayers stood out when the chips are down.
He picked up the home side who had lost four wickets for 32 runs at the time of his arrival at the crease. West Indies had slipped from 100 for no loss to 132 for four. The visitors were buoyant at the batting collapse. There was always going to be a counterattack from a Mayers-Jermaine Blackwood partnership, but no one could predict how long it would last. In the end, the pair added 116 runs for the fifth wicket, taking West Indies easily past Bangladesh's 234.
Mayers deflated Bangladesh not just by scoring the 126 runs, but the manner in which he wrestled back the momentum from them. Shakib Al Hasan appeared defeated as he slowly pulled back the attacking fielding positions one by one, only to resort to one-day type field settings whenever Mayers was on strike.
It was disheartening for the Bangladesh bowlers who brought the team back into the contest with the four-wicket burst in the morning session.
Mayers didn't provide many chances, except the odd play-and-miss, or the flying edges going past the slip cordon from time to time. He threaded plenty of boundaries through the covers in his off-side-heavy innings. Mayers' tendency to hang back slightly to blast the ball through the off side, even slightly squarer, is in a class of its own. One of his best shots was hammering Mehidy for a six down the ground, which started to open up the field.
The usually attacking Blackwood took a backseat during their 116-run stand, as he made 40 off 121 balls. Mayers also dominated the unbroken sixth-wicket stand with Joshua Da Silva to give West Indies a sizable second-innings lead against a tottering batting line-up.
Some of Mayers' shots would have reminded the Bangladesh bowlers of his Chattogram epic. There too, the left-hander struck plenty of boundaries through the covers, but Mayers also hit ten boundaries, including six sixes, through the mid-on region. This time though, he had a very high percentage of his runs on the off side, having struck just the one four and six through the on side.
The Chattogram innings was a big announcement of Mayers' ability. The man who was almost lost to his family in a powerful typhoon some years ago, combined his brutal power with mental strength under pressure. It won him many fans and appreciation from several of the game's greats.
But just over a year later, Mayers found himself seeing the other side of the coin. On the back of 12 innings without a fifty, West Indies dropped him for the first two Tests against England in March. He returned for the St George's Test with a mesmerizing spell of seam bowling that decimated the visitors, his match-haul of 7 for 31 effectively winning the West Indies the series.
"I just thought the key was to being myself, being counterattacking, getting on top of the opposition and changing the momentum. It is just a matter of fully committing to what I do"
Kyle Mayers
Mayers continued his bowling exploits with six wickets in three innings against Bangladesh. He nailed Litton Das and Nurul Hasan, two in-form batters, in one over that hurtled the visitors towards further trouble. He removed Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mominul Haque in the same spell on the third day, again derailing Bangladesh.
On the first day of the second Test, he chipped in with two more wickets. Shanto fell to a fine in-ducker although Mayers was lucky to get the wicket on the umpire's call. Later, he had Mehidy Hasan Miraz caught at point, ensuring Litton lost his last recognised batting partner quite early in the third session.
After the end of the second day's play, Mayers said that he wanted to change the momentum of the West Indies innings shortly after they lost three wickets in quick succession.
"The plan was just to be as positive as possible," Mayers said. "We lost three quick wickets. I just thought the key was to being myself, being counterattacking, getting on top of the opposition and changing the momentum. It is just a matter of fully committing to what I do. I have to be very decisive in terms of stroke play. I have to be very positive when I decide to attack. I give it my all. It is the same when I am defending. Making the right choices is important.
"We just want to shut out the opposition at least for the first hour. Keep them out of the game, and then pile on the runs as much as possible to get a big lead. I think 200 would be ideal for us, given the amount of time left in the game. It is a patience game, for both batters and bowlers. I try to maximise every chance I get to score. They bowled well in patches. The pitch isn't one where you can blast out the opposition."
Mayers' status as an impact cricketer has been underlined in this series. He will of course have to be consistent but West Indies have to quickly learn the value of a cricketer like him. He will use all of his talent in a fantastic spell or in a backs-to-the-wall innings whenever they are in trouble. But Mayers cannot be expected to do all this on a regular basis, however special a player he is. West Indies, instead, will just have to be patient with him.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84