Mirpur: Five years after his debut, Lendl Simmons finally made his first international hundred, and with the help of another batsman who has resurrected his international career this year, Marlon Samuels, powered West Indies to a total that proved too much for Bangladesh in the first ODI in Mirpur. The pair put on 150 for the first wicket before a power-packed Kieron Pollard cameo further demoralised a Bangladesh team that was on a high after their dramatic win in the Twenty20 two days ago.
Bangladesh were asked to chase down 299, which was higher than any ODI score they have made in the past two years, and despite a quick half-century from former captain Shakib Al Hasan and a patient one from makeshift opener Naeem Islam, they ended well short.
Simmons had made half-centuries in six of his previous nine ODI innings, but failed to reach triple-digits each time. On Thursday, he made a fidgety start before settling in on a surface that didn't have much in it for either the medium-pacers or the spinners.
In the sixth over, he was hurried into a pull which was top-edged just wide of the bowler, then he mistimed a straight drive with which he still managed to find the boundary, before jumping outside leg as he looked to crash a short ball through off without managing to connect. He punched the air in frustration after missing out on a cut in the next over, but then showed how good he could be with fours through cover off the back and front foot.
Simmons was the dominant partner in an opening stand with Adrian Barath, whose usual effervescent batting style wasn't on display in a watchful 21 that consumed 47 deliveries. Barath was struggling with a hamstring problem, and retired hurt after the 15th over, the first victim of the newly introduced ban on runners.
That provided no relief for Bangladesh as Samuels began aggressively - muscling a six over wide long-on and following it up with a slap past cover for four. Both Samuels and Simmons soon settled down and largely dealt in singles against an unthreatening Bangladeshi attack. The odd poor delivery was smacked for a boundary, like the high full toss offered by Shakib in the 29th over, and West Indies smoothly progressed to 133 for 0 after 30 overs.
Simmons then unfurled a couple of nonchalant sixes over long-on off Abdur Razzak to close in on his century. He reached the milestone in the 37th over, a delivery after Samuels was dropped by the keeper. There were more opportunities that Bangladesh wasted in the field, with Simmons, a notoriously poor runner, reprieved at least twice when a direct hit would have run him out.
The final onslaught began in the 40th over, the last of the batting Powerplay, with Simmons bludgeoning a series of fours. The bowler, Shafiul Islam, also sprayed one down the leg side to concede five wides as 21 runs came off the over, leaving the new captain Mushfiqur Rahim with his hands on his head. Both Simmons and Samuels perished in a Rubel Hossain over soon after, but Pollard pulled out some massive hits in a 25-ball 41 to push West Indies close to 300.
Bangladesh never looked like they could keep up with the tall asking-rate. Their best chance was if Tamim Iqbal gave them a flier but he was bogged down by the West Indies new-ball pair of Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul. He tried to break free when spin was introduced, trying to hammer Devendra Bishoo's first ball, but could only edge it to the keeper.
The other opener, Naeem, had even more trouble in providing the early momentum. At one stage he was 19 off 50 deliveries, and Bangladesh were crawling along at well below four an over when a much brisker rate was called for. Imrul Kayes, the regular opener, had to come in at No. 3 as he was off the field towards the end of the West Indies innings. He tried to inject some momentum with early boundaries and at the halfway stage Bangladesh still had an outside chance after reaching 101 for 1.
That was snuffed out in the batting Powerplay that was taken after 25 overs, in accordance with the new rules that mandate that it should be completed within the 40th over. As it has done so often, the batting Powerplay resulted in a slew of wickets: both set batsmen, Kayes and Naeem, were dismissed, and Mohammad Ashraful edged a catch to the keeper.
At 130 for 4, the game was pretty much over though Shakib raised some hopes with an enterprising 67. Still, it wasn't enough to spoil Denesh Ramdin's day - he captaining West Indies for the first time, on his return to ODI cricket, in the absence of Darren Sammy who was out with an upset stomach.