St George`s: Kieron Pollard and Denesh Ramdin saved the West Indies from a humiliating defeat and engineered a three-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the first one-day international at the National Stadium in Grenada.
Reeling at 34 for five in reply to the tourists` total of 217 for nine, Pollard`s commanding 89 and Ramdin`s polished 74 turned the match on its head, their 145-run sixth-wicket partnership transforming the improbability of victory into a leisurely canter by the time the winning runs were hit by Jason Holder in the 40th over on Wednesday.
They played positively and exposed the limitations of the Bangladeshi bowling attack as visiting captain Mushfiqur Rahim was at his wit`s end to stem the flow of runs following the early clatter of wickets. Medium-pacer Al-Amin Hossain emerged with the bowling honours, taking three of the first five wickets to fall and finishing with four for 51.
He added the scalp of Pollard, who fell to an outstanding outfield catch by Mahmudullah as the big-hitting right-hander attempted to heave another six to take him closer to a hundred and his team nearer to victory.
"It was good to be able to put my head down together with Denesh to bring the match home," said Pollard.
"No-one needs to remind me about that. I know what I have to do and I`m glad I was able to deliver today."
Anamul Haque`s workmanlike hundred held the Bangladesh innings together as the visitors reached 217 for nine batting first.
Put in on a pitch that made free scoring difficult, the opening batsman`s 109 was essential to giving the innings some respectability with more senior players in the batting order failing to contribute significantly.
Fellow opener Tamim Iqbal and lower-order player Nasir Hossain were the next best contributors with 26 runs apiece.
"We were probably 20-25 runs short of being really competitive," said Musfiqur after the match.
"Our bowlers did a good job up front but after taking those early wickets we couldn`t sustain the effort."
Dwayne Bravo was the most successful West Indies bowler, finishing with four for 32, including the wickets of Mashrafe Mortaza and Anamul in the final over of the innings.
"There`s a lot of room for improvement because the top order of the batting, including myself, let us down again," said Bravo in reflecting on the victory. "The bowlers did their part definitely. We just need the batting to come up trumps."
Anamul`s knock occupied 138 deliveries during which he struck 11 fours and the lone six of the innings, a top-edged hook off fast-medium bowler Ravi Rampaul.
The 21-year-old`s two ODI hundreds have both come against the West Indies, his top score remaining the 120 compiled in the series in Bangladesh at the end of 2012. He lost Tamim after an opening stand of 41, the left-hander miscuing an attempted pull off Holder for Pollard to take the catch at short mid-wicket.
Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals until Nasir joined Anamul at 141 for five in the 34th over, the pair putting on 53 for the sixth wicket and giving the innings a bit of momentum before Nasir departed, caught at the wicket off a miscued swing at Rampaul as he attempted to accelerate the scoring.
Despite the greater urgency, Bangladesh still struggled to improve the run-rate significantly, leaving their bowlers with a tough task to prevent the West Indies overhauling what appeared, at that time, to be a modest target. The win was also a much-needed boost for a West Indies team whose coach Ottis Gibson was axed in the hours before the match. The second of the three-game series is at the same venue on Friday.