At tea, West Indies required 129 runs for a victory against Bangladesh in a minimum of 33 overs
West Indies 259 and 266 for 3 (Mayers 117*, Bonner 79*, Miraz 3-92) need 129 runs to beat Bangladesh 430 and 223 for 8 dec (Haque 115, Das 69, Warrican 3-57, Cornwall 3-81)
An unbroken stand of 207 between debutants Kyle Mayers and Nkrumah Bonner took West Indies closer to a miracle on the fifth afternoon of the first Test against Bangladesh. At tea, West Indies required another 129 runs in a minimum of 33 overs.
Having started the day on 110 for 3, Mayers (117*) and Bonner (79*) kept Bangladesh wicketless for the two sessions. The hosts, however, had a chance to break their partnership in the last over before the break when Nayeem Hasan lured Bonner out of his crease with a flighted delivery but Liton Das missed the stumping chance.
The two displayed outstanding temperament and trusted their contrasting gameplans. Mayers continued in the attacking vein, hitting 11 fours and a six to strike 59.47. Bonner frustrated the bowlers with his defence, moving along at a more patient strike rate of 29.45. The comparisons were already being made to 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 reverted.
Meanwhile, Mayers, who had been the enforcer until then, 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.
In the morning, the Bangladesh spinners were guilty of not bowling enough full-length deliveries. That allowed Bonner and Mayers to wait on the back foot and adjust to whatever turn and bounce the pitch offered. And if there was any width provided, the duo didn’t hesitate to deploy the cut shot.
But it wasn’t as if Bangladesh didn’t create any opportunities. In the first hour of the day alone there were at least three chances that should have been converted into wickets. Mayers was on 47 when Taijul Islam got one to straighten from around the wicket to hit the batsman on the pads. There was a loud appeal for lbw but Richard Illingworth deemed it not out. Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque didn’t opt for the review but replays showed Mayers would have been out had they done so.
Shortly afterwards, Mehidy Hasan 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 Nayeem 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.
When Mustafizur Rahman was brought into the attack, Mayers welcomed him with a four and six off successive deliveries. Bonner, meanwhile, was happy to keep his end occupied. But when Hasan dropped short, he didn’t hesitate in swatting the offspinner to the square-leg boundary twice in one over.
Needless to say, Bangladesh missed the control and guile of Shakib Al Hasan, who hasn’t taken any part in the Test after walking off with a thigh injury on day two.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo