Bangladesh’s well-established vulnerability to fast bowling was in evidence again with the visitors crashing to 103 all out off fewer than 33 overs after being put in to bat against the West Indies on the opening day of the first Test on Thursday. Compounding their woes after an innings that featured six ducks — only the seventh time that has occurred in the 145-year history of Test cricket –- was Kraigg Brathwaite being dropped before he had scored with the home captain unbeaten on 42 as they crawled to the close of play at 95 for two in reply.
Jayden Seales and Alzarri Joseph were the most successful West Indies bowlers with identical figures of three for 33.
However, it was double strikes by Kemar Roach and Kyle Mayers which took the early spotlight to have Bangladesh tottering at 45 for six in the morning.
Returning captain Shakib Al Hasan then played an adventurous innings of 51 to ensure his team avoided a debacle similar to when they were routed for 43 at the same venue at the start of the 2018 series.
With Brathwaite having no hesitation in opting to bowl first, Roach was immediately among the wickets.
Passed fit just the day before, the senior seamer struck with the second ball of the match as Mahmudul Hasan pushed carelessly at a wide delivery for Nkrumah Bonner to take the diving catch at third slip.
Roach then bowled Najmul Hossain between bat and pad in his next over to increase the burden on the shoulders of Tamim Iqbal.
“I thought all the bowlers adjusted well to the conditions because it is not an easy pitch to bowl on,” said Roach in reflecting on the swift work which lifted his tally of Test wickets to 244, seventh on the all-time list of West Indian wicket-takers in Test cricket.
Always bowl first
“We saw the pitch yesterday and knew it would be a little soft. It’s always best to bowl first here in Antigua.
“It’s a tough pitch to bat on as well and obviously Kraigg has led the way so hopefully, we can build a good lead on the second day.”
Fresh from a century in the lone warm-up match against a Cricket West Indies President’s XI, Tamim looked in the mood for the challenge and went past 5,000 runs in Test cricket, joining the absent Mushfiqur Rahim as the only Bangladeshis to reach the landmark.
However he lost Monimul Haque to Seales, Jermaine Blackwood snaring the chance at second slip, before falling himself for 29 when a loose leg-side flick at Joseph gave wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva a straightforward catch.
Mayers, West Indies’ bowling star in the 10-wicket, series-clinching victory over England two months earlier, then picked up from where he left off in Grenada with two wickets in his opening over.
An indecisive Liton Das prodded forward to give da Silva a simple catch and two balls later, replacement wicketkeeper-batsman Nurul Hasan fell leg-before offering no shot to a big inswinger to become the fourth batsman who failed to score.
Shakib, whose future in Test cricket remained in doubt for most of the past 12 months, lived dangerously in playing some expansive shots.
He was lucky to escape when Seales could only get his fingertips to the ball running back from mid-on when the Bangladesh captain heaved at Roach.
He made the most of the reprieve, striking six fours and a six to get to a 28th half-century in Test cricket before being ninth out attempting another big hit off Joseph for Roach to take the catch at long-on.
Joseph then dispatched the last man Khaled Ahmed to end the innings 40 minutes after lunch and claim his best Test figures.
West Indies survived an early alarm in their reply when Mominul missed a sharp catch at leg-slip offered by Brathwaite off Mustafizur Rahman.
Bangladesh were left to rue that miss with the opener plodding through 149 deliveries in the type of innings which has become his trademark.
He lost John Campbell after an opening stand of 44 when the left-hander, who was almost as pedestrian as his captain, played on to Mustafizur.
Raymon Reifer, batting at number three in his second Test four-and-a-half years after his first, fell to a wicketkeeper’s catch via an excellent delivery from Ebadot Hossain.
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