Mohammad Isam in Mirpur
‘Don’t forget what they did to us in July.’
This was Shakib Al Hasan‘s simple, yet potent message to his mates ahead of the Test series at home against West Indies.
On Saturday, after Bangladesh put themselves in a position to clinch the series, Mahmudullah resonated Shakib’s words. “Ahead of this Test series, Shakib said that we should remember how we lost to them in July,” Mahmudullah said. “If we keep that in mind, it will motivate us a lot to play in these matches. I think it was an important message to the team, which motivated all of us. If you forget the loss easily, you won’t learn.”
West Indies’ collapse to spin in Mirpur and Chattogram have been eerily similar to Bangladesh’s surrender to pace in North Sound and Kingston.
Where Bangladesh struggled at deliveries outside the offstump against pace there, West Indies haven’t been helped by going back to play spin on rank turners. The inability to adjust to conditions has been the common thread.
In Chattogram, all 20 West Indies wickets went to spin as they were bowled out twice within three days. Here in Mirpur, hey slipped to 29 for five in the first 12 overs of their reply to Bangladesh’s 508. This is the lowest score where a team has lost five wickets against Bangladesh.
West Indies’ saving grace so far has so far been the 46-run unbroken sixth-wicket stand between Shimron Hetmyer and Shane Dowrich, incidentally the two batsmen who batted with some composure in Chattogram too.
In Dhaka, Kraigg Brathwaite and Kieran Powell were bowled leaving a huge gap between bat and pad while negotiating spin. Sunil Ambris missed an ambitious lofted drive while Roston Chase played for turn that wasn’t there.
“I guess the guys played for too much turn and clearly the ball kept straight and lost the key wickets,” said spinner Jomel Warrican, who toiled for 38 overs to pick two wickets. “We just need to apply ourselves better.”
Mahmudullah felt the key wasn’t to be obsessed about picking a wicket every delivery. “I don’t think it will be easy to bowl them out. We can’t think of getting a wicket every ball. Shakib stressed on bowling in good areas. There is variable bounce, which can be useful if you bowl in the right areas, sticking to the plan.”
The good news is that Taijul Islam and Nayeem Hasan, the other half of Bangladesh’s spin quartet in this Test series, have only bowled four overs between them. Nayeem became the youngest cricketer to take a five-wicket haul on Test debut in Chattogram last week, while Taijul’s 6 for 33 was decisive in the fourth innings.
Like the spin duo are handing it to West Indies, the pace pack of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Miguel Cummins and Keemo Paul took 38 of the 40 wickets in the July Test series.
West Indies’ current series batting average stands close to their lowest 17.07, against Sri Lanka in 2005, and only a desperate effort from the Hetmyer-Dowrich pair can get them somewhere better in Mirpur.
How quickly can they turn around a batting approach that isn’t clearly working could determine if there’s a fight to follow in the second innings.