Given that only a small crowd came to the Beausejour Stadium to watch West Indies’ 500th Test match, the swaying fortunes of West Indies and Bangladesh was what illuminated the occasion. The first day of the second Test could have gone either way. In the end, it was the home side who emerged happier, but not to the extent they may have imagined at the end of a wicketless first session.
West Indies were 246 for three at stumps, a score that reflected the fact that they did not take full advantage of a 143-run opening partnership between Kraigg Brathwaite and the debutant Leon Johnson. It also flattered them, since they lost their way in the final session and Bangladesh bowled well but dropped some important catches.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo, unbeaten on 34 and 44 respectively, steered West Indies through a tough period. They have so far added 61 for the fourth wicket, with Bravo starting off with a string of fours and sixes before shutting up shop. But the partnership could have ended in the 72nd over when Al-Amin, who was getting the ball to straighten from around the wicket, found Chanderpaul’s edge only for Nasir Hossain to drop it, diving to his right from second slip. He could have left it for first slip, where Anamul Haque would only have had to lean forward to make the catch.
The Bangladesh pace bowlers ended the day with their heads slightly higher after a disappointing first session. After Mushfiqur Rahim chose to field first on a pacy and bouncy pitch with lateral movement, they hardly attacked the stumps in the first session.
Johnson and Brathwaite gave West Indies the ideal start, going through the first session wicketless. Having scored at just over two runs an over before lunch, they picked up the pace soon after, adding 82 before Brathwaite, having scored his sixth fifty, played an out-of-character shot, chasing a wide ball from Shafiul Islam and spooning a catch to point.
Johnson’s 66 showed promise, not just while threading the ball through the covers or hitting straight. He took his time getting off the mark, off his 17th ball, but he adjusted manfully even though he is not a regular opener. He reached his fifty off 135 balls, but couldn’t take advantage of a half-chance, when he edged the ball through the slips on 61, and fell after adding just five more. Johnson’s 162-ball innings contained five fours and a six.
His dismissal, leg-before to Taijul Islam, came 25 balls after Brathwaite’s dismissal. He could have had another reprieve if he had asked for the review within 15 seconds but he was late by three seconds after consulting Kirk Edwards, the non-striker. Hawkeye suggested that the ball from Taijul Islam would have missed the leg stump.
Edwards had yet another unproductive outing, getting out for 16 to a good low catch, diving to his left, by Shamsur Rahman at cover off Mahmudullah. He had been given a life on five when Taijul Islam dropped a simple chance off his bat at backward point.
Shafiul was lucky to get the wicket of Brathwaite but saw two chances, the ones given by Johnson and Edwards, going down off his bowling. This being his first Test in more than three years, it would be a satisfying first day though he too, like Robiul Islam and Al-Amin Hossain, was trying to overdo the swing and seam movement in the first session.
Robiul was having a poor day as he was wayward and undisciplined, but he bowled well after tea, getting the old ball to jag both ways to the left-handers. He gave Chanderpaul some food for thought with the second new ball too, as shots were attempted and edges missed by whiskers.
Al-Amin also improved as the day progressed, ensuring he kept the ball up and used the movement in the air without forcing things to happen. He beat Chanderpaul in the 72nd over and a ball later, had him edging. He was livid at the slip cordon when Nasir dropped the catch.
West Indies added 93 runs in the last session without losing a wicket, ending the day on a bit of a high. Bangladesh, on the other hand, must have been peeved at not taking the chances. They will have a ball that is just five overs old and a pace attack that has learned what not to do on this pitch in the morning session.
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