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Tamim Iqbal returns from injury with match-winning ton against West Indians

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Bangladesh Cricket Board XI 314 for 6 in 41 overs (Tamim 107, Sarkar 103*, Chase 2-57) beat West Indians 331 for 8 (Hope 81, Chase 65*, Rubel 2-55) by 51 runs (DLS method)

Tamim Iqbal marked his return from injury with a blazing century for the BCB XI. The touring West Indians – under brand-new captain Rovman Powell – lost their only warm-up game before the three-match ODI series that begins on Saturday in a high-scoring rain-hit contest.

Tamim, who fractured his left wrist during the Asia Cup in September, scored at a strike-rate close to 150, as he pummelled the West Indian bowlers for 13 fours and four sixes, making a 73-ball 107 while chasing 332.

ALSO READ: Tamim, Shakib return to Bangladesh’s ODI squad

In a game where the BCB XI bowlers were themselves clattered for 331 in the first innings, Tamim joined forces with No. 3 Soumya Sarkar early in the chase to add 114 runs for the second wicket in just 83 balls. Sarkar smacked a quickfire unbeaten ton of his own, finishing on an 83-ball 103, as BCB XI won by 51 runs (via DLS method) with rain stopping play in the afternoon.

Even if it wasn’t for the downpour, BCB XI were anyway cruising towards their target of 332 on the back of the Tamim-Sarkar stand. When the game stopped after 41 overs in the second innings at 314 for 6, the hosts were just 18 runs away from victory. What would disappoint Bangladesh, though, is that the next highest score among the six other batsmen was only 27.

ALSO READ: Rovman Powell to lead West Indies’ 15-man ODI squad

Earlier in the day, the West Indians, too, had a field day with the bat after winning the toss. A century stand between openers Kieran Powell (43) and Shai Hope (81) gave them a rapid start, but five wickets in the middle overs derailed their progress. Mehedi Hasan Rana and Nazmul Islam shared two wickets each as the visitors went from 101 for no loss to 176 for 5. But a late surge by the unbeaten Roston Chase and No. 8 Fabian Allen took them past the 330-run mark. Chase finished on 65 off 51 balls, while Allen hit a 32-ball 48. Rubel Hossain and the captain Mashrafe Mortaza were the only two bowlers to concede less than six per over.

As for the West Indian bowlers, spinners found the most reward, with Chase and Devendra Bishoo taking four wickets between them. Chase’s offspin dismissed both Bangladesh openers while Bishoo’s legbreak earned him the wickets of Mohammad Mithun and Ariful Haque. Allen, the left-arm spinner, chipped in with Towrid Hridoy’s wicket. The West Indian pacers, though, found it harder on a batting-friendly surface. Keemo Paul and Kemar Roach went wicketless at over 9 per over while Oshane Thomas leaked 57 runs in his seven-over spell.



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‘As long as he is alive, Hope will play tomorrow’ – Brathwaite

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When the best player on tour is injured, the captain and the team management tend to get nervous. Perhaps many captains would think, or even say in private, that they would do anything to ensure that he or she plays the next game. Carlos Brathwaite, West Indies’ T20I captain, said this about Shai Hope, whose back-to-back unbeaten centuries have been the visitors’ only batting beacon in Bangladesh in the past week.

Hope felt dizzy after receiving a blow to the head during Friday’s third ODI in Sylhet, but he trained with the squad on Sunday, ahead of the first T20I.

“Shai [Hope] is in beautiful batting form, fresh off two back-to-back unbeaten centuries,” Brathwaite said. “Even if Shai has to play with a stretcher, I will volunteer to carry the stretcher between the wickets. He is fine and in good spirits. He is out practicing, so hopefully he is close to 100 per cent. As long as he is alive, he will play tomorrow.”

ALSO READ: WI look to break five-game losing streak against upbeat hosts

Brathwaite’s side will further be boosted by the return of Evin Lewis, who missed the India tour and the Bangladesh ODIs. “He is one of the better batsmen in the world. For the last 18 months or so, he has three T20I hundreds and also centuries in regional and franchise cricket all over the world.

“He is a definite plus for any team. It is a positive to have in our side. Hopefully he will deliver some big performances which will help us win the game and the series,” said Brathwaite.

But of course, injuries and unavailability have been a major bother for the West Indies. Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell and Jason Holder are injured, while Chris Gayle has been busy with league commitments.

“We have had some informal chats about it. We can’t do much as players if we continue to lose. We don’t have much power or say. The group of players needs to find a way to win, regardless of who is and who is not selected. When we start to win, we can pull on experiences on learning how to win games.

“Evidently you become more experienced and confident, and start creating your own brand of cricket. We haven’t been able to, because of a lot of chopping and changing for different reasons. The feeling in the dressing room is that whenever a team is picked for a tour, we put our heads together as a unit, and find a way to win games. Once we do that, West Indies cricket will find a way to the top, whichever format,” he said.

Brathwaite believes West Indies’ favourite format can get them the much-needed win in this tour, which would also be a bounce back from their wretched year in T20Is. They have won just two out of 12 games in 2018.

“The people back home deserve a Christmas gift,” he said. “We hope to close out the year with a win. We still think T20 is our premier format.

“We obviously haven’t had the results to be in the recent past proud of. But here’s a chance to turn things around and ending 2018 in a good way.”



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Williamson’s fluency allowed me to keep going – Latham

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The tempo at which his team-mates – particularly Kane Williamson – built their own innings, helped Tom Latham get through some tough spells, and assisted in his getting to a seventh Test hundred.

Latham went to stumps on 121 off 256 balls – his strike rate a respectable 47 for the day – but had been much slower at the start of his knock. He had been 16 off 86 balls at one stage, and also went through another period – when he was on 50 – in which he did not score a run for 17 balls.

Williamson, meanwhile, made 91 off 93 balls. To the pair’s 162-run second wicket stand, Latham’s contribution was only 67.

“At the start of my innings, I wasn’t playing that quickly, but the way Jeet Raval played and the way Kane came and played – that took the game to the opposition and kept the scoreboard ticking over,” Latham said. “It was good for me. I could just keep going. The most important thing we talk about was making those partnerships big ones, and I managed to get a good one with Kane.

Williamson had signaled his aggressive intentions early, hitting three fours off the first three deliveries he faced. Two of those strokes were especially memorable back-foot punches either side of point, off the bowling of Lahiru Kumara. He would go on to hit 10 fours in his innings, and had little trouble finding gaps in the outfield in between the boundaries.

“Kane came out and hit the ball fantastically well – I guess he’s a world-class player and is hitting the ball unbelievably well in all conditions,” Latham said. “You look at some of the shots he plays – from ball one – those early boundaries set the tempo for his innings and he kept doing that. He’s a fantastic player and one to get a few more tips off. When guys are going like that it’s almost easier to give them the strike and let them do their thing.”

For Latham, this was his first trip to triple figures since January 2017, and breaks a relatively lean spell that goes back at least six innings. In the three Tests in the UAE, Latham mustered only one 50, and averaged 16.5 across the three Tests. Which is why, he said, it was important to start slowly and build from there.

“The slow start was about trying to get them to bowl to me as much as possible. Coming from the UAE where the conditions were a lot different, it was important for me to try and wait to score when the ball was a lot straighter, or when it was shorter or fuller.

“I didn’t have the results I wanted in the UAE, but I felt like I was hitting the ball alright. The biggest thing was the trust in my own game, and the trust that I can do it at this level. It’s been a while since I made a big score, but it was nice that I managed to do that straightaway.”



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Repeat finger blow spells trouble for Aaron Finch

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Aaron Finch was taken for x-rays on a possible fractured right index finger on day three of the second Test in Perth. Finch was struck a painful blow in the 13th over of the innings by Mohammed Shami in more or less the same spot where he had twice been struck by Mitchell Starc in net sessions earlier in the summer.

The finger troubles for Finch had begun when Starc hit him on the bottom hand during training for the first ODI of the season, also in Perth against South Africa last month, and the same spot was hit by the same bowler in Australia’s main training session before the first Test in Adelaide, whereupon Finch muttered the words “same finger” before seeking treatment from the team doctor Richard Saw.

After struggling in both innings of the Adelaide Test, Finch scrapped his way to a half-century alongside Marcus Harris on day one of the Perth Test, and having reached 25 not out in the second innings was quickly wringing his right hand after the blow from Shami.

In obvious pain, Finch received extensive treatment on the field before it was decided that he must retire hurt to seek further information on the seriousness of the blow. The umpires then called for tea about a minute earlier than scheduled, and Finch did not resume in the evening session.

It’s not the first time Shami has inconvenienced an Australian batsman this series, having also struck Tim Paine on the right index finger in the second innings in Adelaide and duly creating a wave of concerns given the captain’s long history of troubles with the digit.

More to follow…



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