MIRPUR, Bangladesh, CMC – After promising much before with eight half-centuries, Lendl Simmons came good with his maiden international hundred to lead West Indies to a 40-run victory in the first One-day International yesterday.
The 26-year-old opener earned the Man-of-the-Match award for his 122 that was the rock upon which West Indies built a challenging total of 298 for four from their 50 overs after they were sent 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.
Naturally, Simmons was delighted to have clinched his maiden in a match-winning effort for the visitors.
“I’m truly delighted to get my first hundred for West Indies and the fact that it came in a West Indies victory makes it an even better feeling,” he said. “It was a special knock. I would like to dedicate [this] innings to my mother and daughter.”
In this year’s home series against Pakistan and India, Simmons posted scores of 51 twice, 76 and 77 not out against Pakistan, as well as 53 and 67 against World champions India, but this innings was extra-special for another reason.
It eclipsed an innings of 117 from compatriot and batting legend Brian Lara that stood for 12 years as the highest individual score by a West Indies batsman against Bangladesh.
Simmons was relieved that he could make the transition and looked forward to the remaining two matches in the series.
“I got some very good starts against Pakistan and India, but I couldn’t convert them into hundreds,” he said.
“I was happy I managed to carry-on all the way. I know I have to accept the responsibility of giving the team a platform.
“I always aim big. I always try to give the team a good start so we could get the foundation and look to build big scores. It worked well and we are looking forward to the matches ahead.”
Simmons shared 67 for the first wicket with compatriot Adrian Barath, whose innings came to an early close, when he retired-hurt with a hamstring injury.
He also featured in a partnership of exactly 150 with Marlon Samuels, whose impressive form on the trip continued with 71 from 78 balls.
“The pitch was nice [for batting],” he said. “The ball came on to the bat. I was trying to get the pace of the [pitch] as fast as possible.
“We didn’t get the start we wanted in the first five overs, but we got to our target by the end of the first Power Play. Then we just went on with the momentum.”
He said: “Marlon has been in great form from the start of the tour and he was playing really well. He is showing his ability with both the bat and the ball and we are playing around him.
“He dominated the Twenty20 and [in this match] he showed his class. He has been an inspiration. All the guys see that he has form. Our partnership was a good one and it got us to a good score which won us the match.” The second ODI takes place tomorrow at the same venue.