CHATTOGRAM, Bangladesh, (CMC) – Left-hander Kyle Mayers became only the second West Indies batsman to hit a double hundred on debut as an under-strength West Indies pulled off the highest ever successful run chase on the Asian continent and the fifth highest in Test history, to stun Bangladesh by three wickets in the opening Test here Sunday.
Starting the final day on 110 for three in pursuit of an improbable 395 for victory, West Indies defied all odds to reach their target late in the final session with 15 balls remaining at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.
At the heart of the victory was an astonishing unbeaten 210 from Mayers who batted the entire day to lead the second highest successful chase for the Caribbean side following their 418, 18 years ago in Antigua which remains the highest by any side.
Mayers found an ally in his overnight partner Nkrumah Bonner who hit 86, and together they added 216 for the fourth wicket in a partnership that marked only the second time two debutants have put on more than 200 runs in a Test innings.
The epitome of concentration and combining selective aggression with a sound defense, the 28-year-old Mayers struck 20 fours and seven sixes in an innings spanning 310 balls and just under seven hours at the crease.
Bonner’s knock was no less significant, the right-hander facing 245 balls in just short of 5-½ hours, and counting 10 fours and a six.
Their enterprise denied Bangladesh’s bowlers any success for the first two sessions and West Indies found themselves well placed at tea on 266 for three, still requiring a further 129 runs for victory in the final session.
Drama unfolded when Bonner, unbeaten on 79 at tea, perished in the first over after the interval and when Jermaine Blackwood followed for nine soon afterwards, Bangladesh were back in the contest with the Windies stumbling on 292 for five.
However, Mayers dominated a 100-run, sixth wicket stand with Joshua Da Silva (20) which revived the run chase and put West Indies in sight of victory.
Though Da Silva and Kemar Roach (0) fell in the space of 14 balls late on, Mayers fittingly hit the winning runs with a single to mid on off off-spinner Nayeem Hasan to earn the Windies a historic win.
The result came against the backdrop of a depleted side being selected for the tour after six first team players, including regular captain Jason Holder, declined selection due to COVID-19 fears, and interim skipper Kraigg Brathwaite said belief had been key for the inexperienced unit.
“I believed in this team from day one. Obviously a lot of people said different stuff but for us, it was just to believe in ourselves, back our plans and we did that right down to day five,” said Brathwaite, who top-scored with 76 in the first innings.
Added Mayers: “I’m always a positive person. I always believe in my ability and believe that the team can reach places so I was always positive.”
A virtual unknown in international circles before Sunday, Mayers wrote his name into the record books as he carried West Indies to an unlikely win and a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
The Barbadian became the sixth batsman to score a double-century on debut, with his 210 the highest score in a fourth innings by a player on debut and only behind Lawrence Rowe’s 214 as a debutant for West Indies.
Mayers also joined the legendary Sir Gordon Greenidge as the only other batsman in Test history to score a double hundred to achieve a winning result.
With Mayers resuming the morning on 37 with Bonner on 15, West Indies first faced the ultimate challenge of avoiding defeat on a wearing pitch and against a battery of spinners.
However, both batsmen were self-assured and Mayers was first to his half-century 40 minutes into the session in fortuitous circumstances when he collected a single to third man, after being dropped at slip off off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz (4-113).
The pair posted 87 runs in the session to take West Indies to lunch on 197 for three and while Mayers, unbeaten on 91 at the break, managed only 26 runs in the second session, Bonner took the initiative to score freely and raise his half-century in the fifth over following the resumption.
Mayers, meanwhile, crawled after lunch and reached his hundred approaching the first hour, with an edged boundary off left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman.
Only 69 runs came in the session and the pendulum swung when Bonner lasted just six balls after tea before being hit in front by left-arm spinner Taijul Islam (2-91) and Blackwood was then bowled charging Nayeem after facing only 11 balls, further increasing the pressure on Mayers.
He hardly blinked, however, and with the support of Da Silva, moved into the 140s with a boundary to third man off Nayeem before reaching 150 on the verge of the last hour.
With West Indies on 334 for five at the start of the final hour, Mayers upped the tempo by clearing the ropes at long on with Mustafizur before smashing Mehidy over long off for another six.
The last of his seven sixes took him to 198 and he completed a sensational double hundred with a single to point off Nayeem, with the Windies needing just 10 runs to win.
Another six off the first ball of the next over all but confirmed victory and not even the wickets of Da Silva and Roach could tarnish the result.