GROS ISLET – West Indies will hope to mark their 500th Test with a victory when they face Bangladesh in the second and final Dhaka Bank Test starting at the Beausejour Cricket Ground here today at 10 a.m.
They swept aside the visitors by ten wickets in the first encounter at Arnos Vale last week and with the added motivation of the historical landmark, will again fancy their chances of an equally dominant win.
West Indies played their first Test match against England at Lords in 1928, rising to the pinnacle of World cricket in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Windies have recorded 162 wins while suffering 168 defeats. There have been 168 draws and one tie.
And though their star has long receded, the significance of the second Test is not lost on the side’s newest captain Denesh Ramdin.
“This is a very special occasion … everyone is looking forward to it. This is very exciting. We will look to come out and give a good account our ourselves as we did in the last match in St Vincent so hopefully our bowlers can get the job done here and our batters can put runs on the board,” said Ramdin, who replaced Darren Sammy at the helm in June.
“I am honoured, happy and privileged to be the man leading the team in this historic match. This is not just a special occasion for us as players but also for West Indians everywhere and West Indies fans and supporters worldwide.”
He added: “This is something for us to cherish and celebrate and we will look to win and celebrate the match and the series. We want to pay tribute to all the great people who have contributed to the history and develop of West Indies cricket so that helps to add to the special occasion.”
Occasion aside, the Windies will want to emphasise the gulf between the two teams by again winning handily. They batted once at Arnos Vale, compiling nearly 500 runs, but that was built upon 21-year-old opener Kraigg Brathwaite’s marathon career-best 212.
Shiv Chanderpaul, Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo all got half-centuries against a Bangladeshi attack which lacked bite.
Gayle will miss the game as he deals with a personal matter and has been replaced in the squad by Guyana left-hander Leon Johnson. If he makes his debut, he will be the 300th Test player for West Indies.
The Windies will again field an attack laden with pace and with the pitch carrying grass, Ramdin is hoping his fast bowling trio of Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor and Shannon Gabriel can exploit conditions.
“I believe it will have a lot more bounce,” the 29-year-old wicketkeeper said.
“I’ve played a lot of matches here, first class matches and T20s, and a couple of 50-over matches and the ball has carried quite a lot throughout the innings so hopefully our faster bowlers can get the purchase here that they didn’t get in St Vincent.”
With tough assignments in India and South Africa ahead later this year, Ramdin knows the importance of stacking up victories now to create momentum.
He’s also still waiting for his first series win having conceded the three-Test rubber to New Zealand back in June, and says the historic moment presents the ideal opportunity.
“The type of cricket both teams are playing the match will have a result and once we do what we need to do as a team – as batters as bowlers – and execute the plans that we have set out in this match we should be able to come out on top,” Ramdin said.
“It would be fantastic to win my first series as captain in what is the 500th Test match. Over the last couple of days the guys have put in some really good work and we are raring to go come tomorrow.”
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who is the most capped West Indies Test cricketer and will be playing his 158th match, described it as a “great and special occasion”.
“This is a milestone that we have achieved and as a West Indian, I am proud and I want to keep the West Indies flag flying as high as possible.”
The 40-year-old left-hander made his Test debut over 20 years ago and has scored 11 499 runs with 29 centuries.
“I will remind the fellows in the dressing room about the history and where we came from…about the past and how as West Indians we have to fight as hard as we can. We are a people who will never give up . . . who will fight all the way.”
“As a youngster when I came into the team, I was among many greats, and I got a full appreciation of what it meant to represent the West Indies. We have a rich legacy and a great history and we are all happy to be part of this great match,” added Chanderpaul.
Very little has gone right for Bangladesh in the lead-up to the Test with seamer Al-Amin Hossain being reported for a suspect action and Imrul Kayes ruled out with a skin infection.
With Kayes out, Bangladesh are likely give Anamul Haque his first Test since October last year while Robiul Islam might also be preferred to Al-Amin.
Spectators will also be in for a special treat as the West Indies Cricket Board has announced a “buy one get one free” on tickets.
WEST INDIES (from): Denesh Ramdin (captain), Sulieman Benn, Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shiv Chanderpaul, Kirk Edwards, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Leon Johnson, Kemar Roach, Shane Shillingford, Jerome Taylor.
BANGLADESH (from): Mushfiqur Rahim (captain) Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque Bijoy, Imrul Kayes, Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Shamsur Rahman, Robiul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Taijul Islam, Shuvogoto Hom, Elias Sunny. (CMC/EZS)