West Indies tour of Bangladesh
Bangladesh were big winners over the touring Windies in the first test at Chittagong last week. The match was dominated by the spinners as the Windies struggled to adapt to the humid conditions and slow bowling which saw Bangladesh pounce after posting a satisfactory 324 in their first innings. Mominul Haque scored his eighth test century & was the star of the show for Bangladesh as the 27-year-old put the home side in a commanding position heading into the second days play. Both Shannon Gabriel and left-arm orthodox spinner Jomel Warrican each picked up four wickets, but they weren’t particularly damaging performances it has to be said. The fact that Bangladesh’s lower order wagged with the bat didn’t help the cause either. In an attempt to better the Tigers efforts with the bat, the Windies fell short with a total of 246. The top order failed woefully, leaving it all up to Shimron Hetmyer (63) and Shane Dowrich (63*) to mop up the mess. Hetmyer’s rapid-T20 approach to the innings lit up Chittagong as he smoked 63 off just 47 deliveries before he was finally dismissed. Debutante-spinner Nayeem Hasan dominated with figures of 5/61, all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan also producing the goods with 3/43.
With a 78-run lead up their sleeve, Bangladesh had their foot on the tourists throat as they looked to pile on more runs in their second innings. The pitch was getting harder to bat on though, and that’s where the Windies spinning-trio fought back some ascendancy as they skittled Bangladesh for just 125. Devendra Bishoo led the way with 4/26, closely followed by Roston Chase (3/18) and Jomel Warrican (2/43). It was too little, too late perhaps as the Windies were set a target of 204 runs for victory. With batting conditions becoming increasingly difficult, it didn’t take Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam long to spin the Windies into a world of trouble as cracks started to form. Bang, bang, bang, bang – four wickets gone just like that inside the first six overs, Shakib and Taijul leaving a trail of destruction behind them. The Windies never recovered from that horrific start and were eventually bowled out for 139 in the 36th over. Taijul Islam picked up a six-wicket haul as Bangladesh went on to win the match by 64 runs.
England tour of Sri Lanka
With a 3-0 series victory on the horizon, England will be hoping to claim the six remaining wickets required for victory relatively quickly later today at Colombo. Wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow scored a century in his return to the side after sitting out the first two matches due to injury, all-rounder Ben Stokes also registered a half-century before he was caught at slip. Talking just before about the spin-friendly conditions in Chittagong, this series has definitely revolved around slow bowling. Coming in for his first test of the series, Lakshan Sandakan picked up 5/95 with his left-arm Chinaman’s alongside his other two fellow-spinners who found it difficult to make inroads in the England line-up. At the end of the day, you’d have to give England the chocolates for posting a 300+ total on a slowish-Sri Lankan wicket. With not a lot to lose, Sri Lanka responded tremendously as Dimuth Karunaratne and Dhananjaya de Silva gritted their teeth and put the foot down against England’s attack.
A 142-run partnership between the pair came to an end when de Silva was dismissed for 73, and that’s when things started to get a little messy. Just a matter of overs after de Silva exited the middle, Karunaratne was caught at short leg for 83 as leggy Adil Rashid provided the magic touch yet again. Kusal Mendis was one of Sri Lanka’s last batsmen to show some fight before Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes demolished the remainder of their batting order. The match was flipped on its head as Rashid’s 5/49 & Stokes 3/30 left the hosts stunned with just 240 on the board after they were 2-173. With another big task ahead of them, Sri Lanka found some early wickets in the form of Dilruwan Perera who dismissed England’s top three batsmen cheaply. Stokes backed up his fifty in the first innings with a fighting-42 at the crease with Jos Buttler who made scoring runs look easy with a fluent 64 off 79 balls. Adding a further 230 runs, England set Sri Lanka a target of 327 runs with two days remaining.
New Zealand tour of the United Arab Emirates
We’re just two days into the second test in Dubai, and Pakistan has already set the standard after posting an impressive 418/5 in the first innings. Declaring 167 overs in, it was apparent that Pakistan was confident that they’d done enough to put the pressure back on the Black Caps heading into the third days play. After an anxious start to the innings where they lost both opening batsmen for just 9 runs apiece, New Zealand all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme left Pakistan in a vulnerable state. To Azhar Ali and Haris Sohail’s credit, the pair managed to halt the Black Caps momentum and build a crucial partnership. It would’ve frustrated the hell out of New Zealand, they went from being in an extremely threatening position, to having the energy sucked out of them as a 126-run partnership formed around them. The Kiwis never recovered from that Azhar-Sohail partnership, the Pakistani No. 3 was eventually run out for 81 in the 70th over, but as far as his team was concerned he’d done his job.
Just ten overs later Ajaz Patel picked up the wicket of Asad Shafiq, and all of sudden New Zealand looked back in the contest. It was short-lived though as a determined Babar Azam made his way to the crease still searching for a maiden-test century. Things were just about to get a whole lot worse for New Zealand as Haris Sohail found himself a new partner in Azam who was on a mission. The Black Caps failed to make a breakthrough which proved costly as the fifth-wicket stand started to eclipse that of Azhar and Sohail’s earlier. The news just kept on getting better and better for the men in green, Azam brought up his maiden-test century as the partnership reached 186 runs. Haris Sohail was eventually dismissed for 147 off a whopping 421 deliveries, while Babar Azam finished unbeaten on 127 off 263 balls. New Zealand’s bowling attack toiled away for little-reward in that first innings, four of their bowlers ended up bowling 30+ overs each for just five wickets.