MIRPUR, Bangladesh, CMC – Lendl Simmons hit 122 to set West Indies up for a 40-run victory over Bangladesh in the first One-day International yesterday.
The loose-limbed opener earned the Man-of-the-Match award, after he stroked eight fours and two sixes from 124 balls in his maiden international hundred and shared a century partnership for the second wicket with Marlon Samuels to lead to West Indies 298 for four from their allocation of 50 overs after they were put in to bat.
West Indies – under the leadership of Denesh Ramdin due to an upset tummy to Darren Sammy – then restricted the Bangladeshis to 258 for seven on a docile Sher-e-Bangla Stadium pitch to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series which continues on Saturday at the same venue.
Simmons has promised much before with eight half-centuries, but he never reached a hundred in his previous 28 innings in 29 matches.
He however, reached his hundred from 112 balls, playing left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan into mid-wicket for a single in the 37th over.
Simmons got into stride with a drive past Shafiul Islam for his first boundary and followed up with a pair of fours off Rubel Hossain in the following over.
A drag was typically put on Simmons and the rest of the West Indies batting when spin was introduced, but he emerged to blossom with some fine strokes in the later stages of the innings, including four fours off Shafiul in the 40th over.
He shared 67 for the first wicket with compatriot Adrian Barath, whose innings came to an early close, when he retired-hurt on 21 in the 15th over, hobbling away with a hamstring injury.
The diminutive West Indies opener became the first batsman to fall victim of the new international rule that prohibits runners for injured batsmen and took no further part in the match.
Samuels came to the crease and put on exactly 150 with Simmons, further breaking the spirit of the typically spritely Bangladeshis.
He made 71 from 78 balls that included half-dozen fours and a pair of sixes, but he was fortunate on 46, when he edged Shakib between the legs of Bangladesh captain and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim in the 37th over.
Simmons was caught at short fine leg off the first ball of the 42nd over from Rubel Hossain essaying a scoop, and three balls later, Samuels was caught at deep backward square leg playing a hook, as the Bangladesh fast-medium bowler finished with three wickets for 65 runs from 10 overs.
Kieron Pollard smote two fours and three sixes in 41 from 25 balls and kept the momentum going in the closing overs with a stand of 59 with left-handed compatriot Darren Bravo before they fell in the space of five balls inside the last two overs.
Ravi Rampaul bowled steadily, but Kemar Roach was expensive, when Bangladesh started their chase, but the hosts never seriously challenged the imposing target.
Devendra Bishoo had Tamim Iqbal caught behind for 21 to give West Indies the breakthrough in the 13th over, and makeshift opener Naeem Islam gathered 52 from 82 balls to lead a stand of 78 for the second wicket with Imrul Kayes, whose 42 from 52 balls contained five fours.
But West Indies undermined the Bangladesh chase, when they claimed three wickets for eight runs in the space of 12 deliveries.
Andre Russell had Islam caught at deep mid-off in the 28th over, Rampaul had Mohammad Ashraful dubiously caught behind (there are no umpire referrals in the series) for two in the next over and Marlon Samuels had Kayes caught behind in the following over.
West Indies never lost their composure the remainder of the way, although Shakib in tandem with Mushfiqur and Alok Kapali, with whom he added 55 for the sixth wicket, made things interesting down the stretch with some fierce hitting.
Rampaul, Russell, and Samuels all finished with two wickets apiece.