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Unimpressive in Ireland
Tony Cozier - 21 May 1999

Flat WI win one

According to the established sporting addage, a win is a win is a win, and the West Indies' first in the World Cup here yesterday was straightforward enough, by seven wickets with three and a half overs in hand over Bangladesh.

In reality, it was achieved in spite of an indifferent performance in the field that evoked disturbing memories of the recent ill-starred tour of South Africa. As it often was then, and more recently against Australia in the Caribbean, the West Indies had the opposition reeling on the ropes but, through sheer indiscipline and mediocrity, failed to administer the knockout punch.

Bangladesh, an ICC associate member without Test status and in the World Cup for the first time, were allowed to recover from the pitiful state of 55 for four in the 23rd over after choosing to bat on winning the toss and reached 182 all out with four balls of their 50 overs left.

Phil Simmons and Jimmy Adams, two of the safest catchers in the team, dropped two sitters, a couple of run-outs were missed and at least ten runs were surrendered through fumbles and misses on a smooth, well-grassed outfield.

Simmons's miss, a lap high offering by Minajul Abedin, cost little as the batsman did not add to his two. Adams's, chest-high to extra-cover, was more expensive as it let off opener Mehrab Hossain, who came through the early difficulties to top-score with 64 off 129 balls.

Considerably more critical, and worrying, were the 25 wides conceded, all but six down the leg-side, and the general nonchalance. The match that is likely to determine whether the West Indies advance to the second round Super Sixes or not is against the efficient New Zealanders in Southampton on Monday and this was not an encouraging preview.

Hendy Bryan, in his first match of the tournament, was responsible for 11 wides in 9.2 overs that yielded a mere 19 from the bat, Merv Dillon for six, Phil Simmons four and Reon King three.

Although it was a blustery, crisp, overcast morning and the start was delayed for three-quarters of an hour by early rain, the white ball did not dart around uncontrollably, as it has done in some other matches.

Courtney Walsh had to carry the bowling on his own in the absence of his regular sparring mate, Courtney Ambrose with a sore right, and shamed his younger colleagues with his figures: 10-0-25-4 with just one wide.

King, in his first appearance, was less culpable than the others and his three for 30 were earned by quality bowling.

For Bryan, Simmons and the fielders, there could be no excuses, not even the strong, chill wind that persisted all day, tore the team flags from off their poles and had manager Clive Lloyd and his players dressed like Antartic explorers watching from their open air position beyond the boundary.

The simple explanation was that Bryan and the other culprits were as wayward as stray missiles over Kosovo.

It was no wonder that Walsh, in collecting his Man-of-the-Match award, commented that he ``really missed'' Ambrose.

The West Indies' effort also lacked an attacking flair that might have bowled out the tense, ill-equipped Bangladeshis long before their overs were up. As it was, they carried on to within four balls of the end.

When King claimed his second wicket with the second ball of the 23rd over, Minhajul caught behind off a tentative edge, Bangladesh had hardly played a stroke in anger and were neatly set up for the kill. Instead, the West Indies' effort suddenly went flat.

The pressure was eased as fielders were despatched to the deep and Mehrab, a well organised little right-hander, and Naimur Rahman took the opportunity to add 85 off the next 20.1 overs.

Mehrab treated Dillon to the indignity of a straight six off his last ball and Simmons was also hit around before he broke the stand in his final over, inducing a catch from Mehrab to deep midwicket off his slower ball.

It was then 140 for five with 7.3 overs remaining and Naimur and the tail saw to it that another 42 were added.

Walsh collected three of the last five wickets, including Naimur lbw for 45 in the first over of his second spell, to finish with four for 25 from his ten overs, enough to earn him the Man-of-the-Match award.

Bryan compensated for his wides, to an extent, with a spectacular tumbling catch at third man to remove Khaled Mahmud and his only wicket in the final over. But he needs to have his radar fixed if he is to play on Monday.

By the time the West Indies went after their target, the skies had cleared and the sun was shining brightly on the emerald green outfield. Haisbul Hossain and the left-arm Monjural Islam, a promising 19-year-old, posed some early problems for Sherwin Campbell and Ridley Jacobs but they soon settled.

By the time Campbell mistimed a high full toss from the off-spinner Mahmud into the breeze and into deep square-leg's lap, the score was 67 in the 21st over and the result was not in question.

Jacobs (51 off 82 balls with a flicked six over midwicket and five fours) and Adams (53 not out off 82 balls with six fours) both helped themselves to satisfying half-centuries. But Brian Lara spent only 25 balls over 25 before he mistimed his drive to be caught at extra-cover.

The captain is short of match practice and would have appreciated a longer stay in the middle. His greater worry this morning, however, would be with his support bowlers, his fielders and the overall attitude.

Source: The Express (Trinidad)