Windies pull off historic win against Bangladesh courtesy debutant Kyle Mayers

Home*Cover Story*Sports

Windies pull off historic win against Bangladesh courtesy debutant Kyle Mayers

Debutant Kyle Mayers scored a magnificent 210 not out as West Indies pulled off the fifth-highest successful chase in Test cricket, and highest in Asia, nailing down 395 for a miraculous three-wicket win against Bangladesh on the final evening in Chattogram.

In a display of exemplary temperament and power-hitting, Mayers struck 20 fours and seven sixes during his 310-ball stay at the crease. When he hit the winning run, a hurried single to mid-on, only 15 balls were left before the close of play. During the course of his innings, he became only the sixth Test batsman to score a double-century on debut, and also the sixth overall to score a double-ton in the fourth innings of a Test.

For the most part of the final day, Mayers was accompanied by fellow debutant Nkrumah Bonner, who himself struck a gritty 86. The duo added 216 for the fourth wicket and kept Bangladesh wicketless for the first two sessions of the day.

That left West Indies needing 129 in a minimum of 33 overs in the final session. Bonner hit Islam for a six in the first over after tea but was lbw on the very next ball. His dismissal gave Bangladesh an opening. Jermaine Blackwood started aggressively, slog-sweeping Islam over long-on for six, before being bowled for 9 while going for another big hit against Nayeem Hasan.

With West Indies 292 for 5 and the target still 103 runs away, Bangladesh had their hopes renewed. Suddenly there were four men close to the bat. It also meant there were many gaps in the outfield and Mayers and Joshua Da Silva took advantage of that, hitting a four each in one Hasan over.

A few minutes later, when Mayers pulled Hasan over deep midwicket for a six to bring the target down to 76, Bangladesh were forced to spread the field once again.

Mayers was at his striking-best when the last hour of the Test commenced. With 61 required at that stage, he backed himself to clear the boundary-riders and scored 49 by himself, in just 40 balls, bludgeoning five sixes and a four. Islam, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman, no one was spared. In a 100-run stand with Da Silva for the sixth wicket, Mayers’ contribution was 80.

The credit must go to Da Silva as well who played a perfect foil to Mayers and must have calmed the nerves in the dressing room. He was eventually bowled for 20 when the target was just three runs away. Kemar Roach, too, fell on the same score – – caught at leg slip off Miraz, who ended with a hundred and eight wickets in the match – but by then even the Bangladesh players knew a West Indies victory was inevitable.

Bangladesh, however, will rue the chances they missed and the reviews they didn’t take, apart from losing Shakib Al Hasan to a thigh injury on the second day of the Test.

In the morning, West Indies resumed from their overnight 110 for 3, and in the first hour alone there were at least three opportunities Bangladesh should have been converted into wickets. Mayers was on 47 when Islam got one to straighten from around the wicket to hit the batsman on the pads. There was a loud appeal for lbw but umpire Richard Illingworth deemed it not out. Bangladesh didn’t opt for the review but replays showed Mayers would have been out had they done so.

Shortly afterwards, Miraz induced an outside edge off Mayers bat but this time Najmul Hossain Shanto put it down at first slip. The resulting single took Mayers to his maiden Test fifty.

Bangladesh missed another opportunity to overturn an on-field decision when Hasan got one to turn sharply from outside off and ping Bonner’s pads. Illingworth once again ruled it in the batsman’s favour. Replays, once again, confirmed he was wrong.

The Bangladesh spinners were also guilty of not bowling enough full-length deliveries, allowing Bonner and Mayers to wait on the back foot and adjust to whatever turn and bounce the pitch offered.

Mayers was the aggressor right from the start, cutting and pulling spinners to the square boundaries. When Rahman was brought into the attack, he welcomed him with a four and six off successive deliveries. Bonner, meanwhile, was happy to keep his end occupied. And even before lunch, their contrasting approach led to the comparisons with Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant’s knocks in India’s win against Australia in Brisbane last month.

The two seemed to have switched their roles in the second session. On the first ball of the second over after lunch, Bonner cleared his front leg and lofted Taijul Islam over mid-on. It fetched the batsman four runs but the impact was such that Bangladesh went on the defensive after that shot. For the next few overs, they had just one close-in fielder, either a slip or a short leg, for spinners.

With a single off Nayeem, Bonner reached his half-century, in 164 balls. After delaying the second new ball by an over, Bangladesh seemed to have found success with it when umpire Sharfuddoula gave Bonner lbw off Islam. Bonner, though, knew he had got an inside edge and got the decision reversed.

Meanwhile, Mayers found himself stuck. Having reached 90 in 146 balls, he took another 32 balls to bring up his maiden Test hundred. And it was a streaky boundary between slip and gully, via an outside edge off Rahman, that took him to the landmark.

What followed was a slew of loose shots from Mayers, all in that Rahman over. He was beaten outside off twice in the next two balls and, a ball later, miscued two consecutive lofted attempts. Luckily for West Indies, both fell away from the fielders. It took a message from the dressing room at the end of the over for Mayers to regain his composure, which he didn’t lose till the end of the match.