Kraigg Brathwaite and John Campbell consolidated a dominant position for the West Indies in reaching 67 without loss at stumps after their bowlers dismissed Bangladesh for 234 on the first day of the second and final Test in St Lucia on Friday.
A day that started well for the home captain when he won the toss to give his bowlers first use of a sporting pitch ended with Brathwaite unbeaten on 30 and Campbell 32 not out, the pair laying the platform going into day two when they will be seeking to take a step closer to a 2-0 series sweep of their opponents.
Alzarri Joseph and Jayden Seales led the West Indies bowling effort with three wickets each while debutant Anderson Phillip, who took the first wicket of the match with just his second ball in Test cricket, and the versatile Kyle Mayers claimed two apiece.
That reinforced not just their skipper’s decision at the toss but also the selectors’ choice in opting for an additional seamer in Phillip at the expense of first Test debutant and spinner Gudakesh Motie.
Given their reputation of vulnerability in these conditions against a concerted fast bowling attack, the visitors were indebted to a counter-attacking 53 from middle-order batter Liton Das and Tamim Iqbal’s 46.
It looked very ominous for Bangladesh at the start of play when, with just the third delivery of the match, Kemar Roach forced Tamim to fend off a sharp lifter in an experience reminiscent of what the West Indies endured a year earlier when they were battered, bruised and humiliated by the South African fast bowlers in back-to-back Tests at the venue.
This time the shoe was on the other foot though, even if Roach, poised on 249 Test wickets, went wicketless through the first innings with the supporting bowlers more than eager to fill the breach left by the luckless senior seamer.
Tamim gives Bangladesh strong start
Tamim and opening partner Mahmudul Hasan Joy displayed much more determination than many would have expected in an opening stand of 41 and it took the introduction of Phillip just before the end of the first hour’s play to make the breakthrough.
With a full-length delivery, the fast-medium bowler breached the defence of Hasan Joy to get the West Indies going.
Tamim continued to bat resolutely, mixing solid defence with unrestrained aggression when the rare loose ball came along.
However the left-hander’s own impetuousity proved his undoing as a loose drive at Joseph gave Jermaine Blackwood a comfortable catch at cover-point with the lunch interval looming.
Four wickets in the afternoon session kept Bangladesh on the back foot although Liton’s experience and occasional aggression ensured that his team were not completely bogged down.
He reached his half-century in the final session but lost Mehidy Hasan Miraz to an excellent diving catch by Devon Thomas at backward-point off Mayers, the substitute fielder setting the standard for a good day in the field for the West Indies.
It was not a good final session for the bowlers however as they lost their composure with Shoriful Islam, one of two changes to the Bangladesh line-up from the first Test, and Ebadot Hossain swinging powerfully and often at anything within reach.
Their combined efforts ensured that 43 runs were added for the last two wickets to give themselves and the other bowlers something to work with.
But the inadequacy of that total was put in perspective by the ease of the unbroken stand between Brathwaite and Campbell, suggesting that captain Shakib Al Hasan and the other bowlers will face a tough task to limit the West Indies progress.
Apart from drafting in Shoriful at the expense of fellow-seamer Mustafizur Rahman, Bangladesh also opted for Anamul Haque over out-of-form former captain Mominul Haque for this match.
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