Venue: Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Dhaka
Date: Thursday, February 11th – Monday, February 15th
Heading into the first Test it was hard to know exactly what the form would be like for each team given the lack of international cricket – and specifically Test match cricket – over the last year. This lack of form knowledge was only increased by the number of West Indies players – 10 in total – opting out of both the ODI portion of the tour and of the Test matches because of Covid-19 concerns. The opt-outs included many of the major stars – including Test captain Jason Holder and ODI captain Kieron Pollard – along with the likes of Sharmarh Brooks, Shai Hope, and Roston Chase.
This meant that the Windies were running with an inexperienced – and untested side at the Test level – and they were made heavy underdogs for the first Test in Chittagong. The writing looked to be on the wall early as Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat, putting up a mighty 430 in their first innings with Mehidy Hasan top-scoring with 103. The Windies managed just 259 in reply before Bangladesh declared at 223/8 in their second innings.
This action left the West Indies needing to chase down 395 in the fourth innings, a score that would be the fifth-highest run chase of all time and the highest ever in Asia. Astonishingly the West Indies were able to complete the task. Much of this was due to an unbeaten 210 from Kyle Mayers – a player making his Test debut – as the West Indies took the win by three wickets. Another win here – again as heavy underdogs – would give the West Indies a stunning Test series victory.
Bangladesh were guilty of not taking advantage of opportunities to close out the first Test. This was especially true during the first hour of Day 5m, where spinners Hasan and Taijul Islam were causing problems to the batsmen. The hosts will be without their star all-rounder in this match, with Shakib Al Hasan having been ruled out through a thigh injury that kept him from either batting or bowling in the second innings of the first Test.
The West Indies will simply be looking for more of the same here so don’t expect any major changes to their lineup for the second Test. Kraigg Brathwaite will look for another big performance from his troops as they try to beat a team that has won four of its last five Tests at this ground.
It will be interesting to see if the spin first strategy that has led Bangladesh to an even record over the last five years comes through for them again here. If their spinners aren’t on, there just isn’t another viable option for the hosts as they have one paceman – Mastafizur Rahman – who is asked to do too much. This Test being at home and on a Bangladeshi wicket created for spin should be enough for them to win and tie the Test series, bt if the spinners don’t come to the fore then the West Indies could sneak another victory as they have batsmen in fine form all of a sudden.