Kyle Mayers helped the West Indies register an unimaginable 1st Test victory with an historical debutant double century to stun hosts Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong today (7 February).
The Barbados all rounder’s sparkling unbeaten knock of 210, which sealed a staggering three wicket success, seemed inconceivable and beyond the wildest dreams of the Windies when they were reduced to 59-3 in their second innings and chasing a total of 395.
And given that the 27-year-old only bagged his maiden first-class century last month in St. Vincent, when representing Barbados Pride against Windward Islands Volcanoes in a four-day match, puts his brilliant history-making innings into perspective. He is the only cricketer to score a debut double century.
Yet the cynics will claim that Bangladesh were badly missing the control and guile of their star player Shakib Al Hasan, back from a 17-month Test hiatus following a suspension for failing to report approaches from a bookmaker, as the all rounder got a thigh injury on day two and was no longer involved.
Following disappointing Test series in England and New Zealand on top of many players refusing to tour Bangladesh, including captain Jason Holder (Barbados), the Windies introduced a trio for their Test debuts in the shape of Jamaica’s leg spinner Nkrumah Bonner plus aspiring all rounders Mayers and Shayne Moseley (Barbados).
With the One Day Internationals having been a source of embarrassment on the Caribbean tourists following hefty defeats in all three one-sided contests, there was little confidence ahead of the two-match Test series despite a change of personnel.
Bangladesh got their first Test start for almost a year off to a stuttering start, losing four wickets in the opening two sessions before steadying the ship to end the day at 242-5. Left-handed opener Shadman Islam gave them some solace by grabbing 59 runs for only his second Test half-century.
Jomel Warrican, the slow left-arm spinner from St. Vincent, shone with the ball to finish with impressive figures of 3-58 to give the Windies some stability.
But the tourists looked distraught at stumps as Mehidi Hasan’s maiden century lifted Bangladesh to 430 all out with Shakib (68) also having punished the inept bowlers. In response, the Windies closed play at 75-2, courtesy of a stubborn 49 from skipper Kraigg Brathwaite (Barbados) and newcomer Bonner (17) in an unbroken 51-run partnership.
St. Catherine’s middle order batman Bonner was sent back to the pavilion with the opening delivery of day three, as the Windies fell apart to be whittled out for a measly 259.
Braithwaite top-scored with a steady 76, with Jamaica’s Jermaine Blackwood (68), Trinidad & Tobago’s Joshua Da Silva (42) and Mayers (40) also in the runs.
Bangladesh also lost their nerve at the crease, with Tamim Iqbal and Nazmul Hossain Shanto failing to score a run between them after being dismissed by Antigua’s off-break bowler Rahkeem Cornwall. But captain Mominul Haque steadied their innings as they concluded at 47-3.
The tourists, who had learned some harsh lessons after competing in five Tests over the past year, began playing with more panache on day four and as well as grabbing some cheap wickets their fielding was suddenly much tighter.
Bangladesh rarely found their rhythm at the crease, except for Haque’s 10th Test century (115) and Liton Das’ knock (69) to splutter to a 223-8 declaration, Cornwall and Warrican grabbing three wickets each, and set the tourists a mammoth chase of 395 to win.
Off-spinner Mehidi Hasan captured all of the wickets to the gritty response, with the Windies reduced to a promising 110-3 at stumps on the penultimate day.
Bangladesh believed that such a fearsome target delivered a certain victory over the out-of-form Windies, but Mayers’ onslaught with the bat – having arrived at the crease when the tourists looked troubled at 59-3 – created a new-found belief throughout the contingent.
He reached his century off 177 balls, after getting an outside edge that flew past gully for his 13th boundary, and enjoyed the 216-run fourth wicket partnership with Bonner that was the key to the team’s success.
Mayers overshadowed his fellow debutant by counter-attacking during the run chase, with Bonner opting for a more cautious defensive approach as he scored 79 off 242 balls.
At tea the West Indies required another 129 runs in a minimum of 33 overs to claim what at the start of the Test seemed like an improbable win. Bonner and Jamaican compatriot Blackwood were both swiftly dispatched as they reached 292-5, piling the pressure back on the shoulders of Mayers.
Wicketkeeper Da Silva (20) was involved in a 100-run sixth wicket partnership with Mayers, who took the bull by the horns with his cavalier display that included seven sixes.
The dominance briefly wavered when Da Silva was gone and fast bowler Kemar Roach (Barbados) fell for a duck.
Yet the dogged determination from Mayers, attempting to edge the tourists ever closer to a miracle triumph, paid dividends as he finished with an unbeaten 210 from 310 deliveries with 27 boundaries as the Windies remarkably reached 395-7 off a pulsating 127.3 overs.
It seems that a star is born in the shape of Mayers, and his match-winning innings will leave the Windies buoyant following this unexpected success. They will get the chance to maintain the moment with the imminent 2nd Test (11-15 February).
Mayers, who became only the sixth player in the history of Test cricket to score a double hundred in the fourth innings, has exploded onto the international arena with aplomb and he could well mark a potential new golden era of West Indian Test cricket.
WI Tour schedule
20 January | 1st ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
Bangladesh (125-4) beat WI (122 all out) by six wickets
22 January | 2nd ODI, SBNCS, Dhaka
Bangladesh (149-3) beat WI (148 all out) by seven wickets
25 January | 3rd ODI, ZACS, Chattogram
Bangladesh (297-6) beat WI (177 all out) by 120 runs
3-7 February | 1st Test Match, ZACS, Chattogram
WI (259 all out & 395-7) beat Bangladesh (430 all out & 223-8 declared) by three wickets
11-15 February | 2nd Test Match, SBNCS, Dhaka
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