July 20th, 2009. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Skipper Shakib Al Hasan led from the front as his band of slow bowlers again exposed the West Indian vulnerability to consistent quality, quality variations, and sheer gumption. The 22 year old Smiling Assassin leading Bangladesh finished day three scalping 4 for 40 before rain delayed the inevitable for the hosts.
West Indies were 192 for 8, leading by 197, as rain stopped play, and seem highly unlikely to extend their current lead to fighting 250 runs or so on a batting wicket with days four and five still to come. Only David Bernard, not out at 61, with his third test 50 in four innings is theoretically capable of leading his side to that high improbability. Sadly, temperamental tail enders Tino Best, not out at 4, and firebrand pacer Kemar Roach to come as the last wicket, are not capable of keeping the 28 year old Jamaican enough company for that to happen.
Then again, never say never, especially when comes to cricket and its glorious uncertainties. That said, it is time to dance the rain dance for many in the Caribbean in Grenada in the desperate hope of avoiding a humiliating series sweep at home, especially to an unheralded and young Bangladeshi side many a naysayer consider unworthy of their status as a test playing nation.
Day four promises an early end to the West Indian innings and leave Bangladeshi batters ample time in the day with day five still to come. Time to patiently and thoughtfully coast to their first test series victory abroad with a memorable sweep. Pacers Roach, Best, Bernard, and Darren Sammy will have to have the performance of their lives as a cohesive unit, a performance of performances to match the legend of a storied Windies past, in order to prevent what seems to be the eventual outcome of this test match and series.
Day three began on positive note for the hosts, having survived an early breakthrough by Al Hasan in day two, and finding themselves at 56 for 1. That note quickly turned sour as opener Omar Phillips threw his wicket away at 29. The shortish delivery from the Bangladeshi Skipper had him loft an unnecessary short straight to Mohammad Ashraful Matin, the disgraced former skipper, at deep backward square leg. That baby-butt soft dismissal allowed the Bangladeshi bowlers to stamp their authority on the match as wickets began to fall at regular intervals, save a few hiccups here and there.
Ryan Hinds was the next to fall after matching his first innings effort of 2 runs with the bat. Another shortish delivery from Al Hasan, this time turning across from outside leg, lured Hinds into an attempted sweep. Wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim, always suspect behind the stumps, ended his streak of averting customary errors by fumbling the chance. Luckily for Bangladesh, the rebound found its way into an alert Mohammad Mahmudullahâ€™s hands at leg slip, and the hosts were at 84 for 3 with Travis Dowlin looking on helplessly from the non strikerâ€™s end.Â Â Â Â Â Â
The 32 year old Guyanese would go on to witness Skipper Floyd Lamonte Reifer fall to Mahmudullah for the fourth time in four consecutive innings, before succumbing to umpire Tony Hill suffering from Ashockanitis at 49. Dowlin offered his pad to an Enamul Haque delivery pitching outside off and turning away, only to find a screaming Rahim appeal as always, no matter how obnoxiously off it may be. Hill found himself instantly aroused by Rahimâ€™s boyish charms and with his bony finger raised like an erect baton, he robbed Dowlin of a well deserved test 50 and beyond.
The hosts found themselves at 110 for 5 with Vice Captain Darren Sammy approaching the middle. He scored a mature 22 from 50 deliveries before being lured into a misplayed pull shot by Haque. The deceptive delivery was not as short as it appeared and got him caught by Raquibul Hasan at short midwicket.
Chadwick Walton was the next to go as Al Hasan struck again for his fourth with a double breakthrough. Well scripted as usual and tossed up, Al Hasan invited Walton to drive. He bottom edged it back to second slip as Mahmudullah cupped it over his head. The tall young offie from Mymensingh in central Bangladesh took his second catch of the day and put his side firmly in the driverâ€™s seat. Waltonâ€™s excellence behind the stumps is matched only by his limitations in front with the bat, and Denesh Ramdin will have nothing to worry about once back in the fold.Â
With Walton back in the dressing room, West Indies found themselves at 167 for 7 with the Quixotic Bernard looking on as wickets falling around him. Ryan Austin didnâ€™t do much to change that as a grunting Shahadat Hossain got him again, this time a little less embarrassingly.Â Austin inexplicably tried to exact his revenge at the wrong time, and his terrible pull shot top edged its way to Tamim Iqbal, running backwards and making it look as graceful as one of Lynn Swannâ€™s many catches as wide receiver for the Pittsburg Steelers of American Football.
West Indies were 187 for 8 before 5 more runs and the rain took their second innings into the fourth day. With a lead of only 197s at this stage, and an innings in tatters, the impending series defeat challenges Windies bowlers to find their inner Halls, Holdings, Marshalls and Walshes, a challenge they are unlikely to meet.
Sohel N. Rahman, July 20th, 2009. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â