Sunday, February 25, 2018

Powell impresses Gray, Davis


Impressive display: West Indies opening batsman player Kieran Powell attends a practice session in Khulna, Bangladesh, yesterday. Bangladesh and West Indies play their second and final Test beginning tomorrow. –Photo: AP

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The West Indies' 77-run win over Bangladesh in the first Test in Dhaka was expected. Kieran Powell's two centuries in the match was not.

His 117 and 110 helped West Indies to their eventual win but it was also a sign of the maturity of the 22-year-old batsman and the great strides he has taken since making his debut last year.

Former West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray and former Windies Test batsman Bryan Davis agree that Powell's knocks in the first Test augur well for the team and that it was a tremendous effort by the Nevis batsman.

Gray described Powell's centuries as one of the best performances in recent times and noted that his work highlighted the benefits of handling players properly.

"People have to know how to manage their players properly by putting them in the format to improve them," he said, and added that, " the West Indies management has done that with Powell."

"His patience has improved very well. He has shown technical improvement. He is learning to build an innings. He was also aggressive when he was younger and you see the patience level now. His concentration has improved," Gray added.

In contrast, Gray noted, Adrian Barath, who made his Test debut with a century against Australia in 2009, is being given more opportunities to play T20 (for Trinidad and Tobago) and his ability to concentrate for long periods in the Test arena has suffered.

"They (West Indies) are managing the players better than we (T&T) are managing Barath," Gray added.

With Powell's recent good form, the opener has cemented his place in the batting line-up, meaning fellow Test openers Barath and Kraigg Brathwaite will have a hard time getting back into the squad.

"It will be hard for him (Barath) to get back into the Test team with (Chris) Gayle coming back and now with the amount of runs Powell has been scoring. Barath will have to work extremely hard when he plays four-day cricket and he has to bat conventional," Gray said.

"The best team in the world has the best substitutes in the game. The guys (in the Test team) cannot afford be complacent and they will have to work hard to keep their place," he added.

Davis also had good things to say of Powell.

"He is taking his opportunity and is playing with a lot of mental strength...He is playing like a master. It was a fantastic effort by a young cricketer to play two innings like that. It is a tremendous effort and shows mental strength," Davis said.

In terms of the result, Davis said although he expected a West Indies win, the match could have been a lot closer given the deterioration of the pitch on the fourth and fifth days.

"I was so happy to see the way we are playing. It shows we have a winning attitude right now and the team fights right down to the wire. I always felt confident that we would win. I saw the deterioration of the pitch and I knew they would be struggling to make 250 but it might have been closer than it was," said Davis.

Gray was also impressed with fast bowler Tino Best whose five-wicket haul on the final day helped to bring home the win as Bangladesh collapsed to 167 all out after being set 245 to win.

"You have to understand Best," said Gray.

"He did not have a consistent bowling action...he needed a lot of work. He is very exuberant but his performance in the second innings was because of the bowling he did in the first innings," Gray added.

"I am happy he has done well because when people look at his performances, they remember the past but not his maturity now. I am happy for him.

Davis was also happy to see Best get his five wickets.

I was looking for (Ravi) Rampaul to be the man and not Best because Rampaul is a bit more accurate than Best. I was surprised yes (by Best's performance in the second innings), because I never rated (him) highly because I always thought he was never accurate enough and he always looked wild.

"I hoped he would pick up some wickets so I am very happy for him. He tries hard and fights a lot. Everybody in the team is fighting now and that is important," Davis ended.