Bangladesh are primed to win this ODI series against West Indies with a game to spare and although Roston Chase laughed off the possibility at the pre-match press conference, it is undeniable that his team has had a torrid time all tour. It is no stretch to imagine that they might suffer another batting meltdown on Tuesday.
However, runs – quick or slow – haven’t been forthcoming for West Indies. There were some encouraging signs in the practice one-dayer when they got a 300-plus total but they couldn’t deal with the lack of pace on the ball as Shakib and Mehidy Hasan bowled during the Powerplay, and then according to Chase, also had trouble against the pacers as the innings progressed.
With an attack that boasts two genuine fast bowlers and a bit of variety, West Indies must get a 240-plus total in Dhaka to seriously challenge the home side. Oshane Thomas and Kemar Roach can be a handful in any conditions but they need to be backed by runs.
Shimron Hetmyer had a blip in the first game but he has so far had a better Bangladesh tour than all of West Indies’ batsmen. They would expect him to produce another quickfire knock in the crucial encounter.
Mashrafe is nursing a hamstring injury and Bangladesh’s team management will be concerned by that, even as they experiment with four opening batsman, using Soumya Sarkar at No. 6.
West Indies have batsmen Chandrapaul Hemraj and Sunil Ambris, allrounder Carlos Brathwaite and left-arm spinner Fabien Allen to choose from, if they are looking to shake up things for the second game.
West Indies’ struggle on Sunday was not indicative that the pitch at Shere Bangla National Stadium is bowler-friendly. Bangladesh certainly showed that batting with a bit more purpose can pay off. Dew is unlikely to be an issue, neither is the weather.
The only passage of play where the visitors looked in some sort of control was their early burst with the new ball, when Oshane Thomas and Keemo Paul cranked up good pace and extracted awkward bounce to trouble the top-order. Perhaps that is something they could look to maximize. Also given the attacking single-geared mindset of most of their batsmen, it would ideally be better to stay mindful of the probable dew setting in and chase.
Another major difference was the ease with which Mustafizur Rahman and Mashrafe Mortaza stifled the opposition at the death with their wily cutters into the pitch, which given the uncertain bounce of the track made for a lethal combo. It was something Keemo Paul too used to decent effect to delay the defeat, but someone like Carlos Brathwaite, whose stock delivery has become the off-cutter, could be drafted into the eleven.
Totals of 195 these days are hardly a challenge, But had it not been for the tail wagging, the Windies would’ve finished with something more embarrassing. Their top-order worries have been well documented. Kieran Powell is without a fifty in his last nine international innings, Marlon Samuels’s highest score since the World Cup qualifiers was his last match’s 25, Darren Bravo looked scratchy on comeback, and most importantly, their skipper, Rovman Powell looks a misfit at number six in sub-continental conditions.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, aren’t short on openers, or on all-rounders. They have made their home a fortress. They’re on a merciless winning momentum, rolling over practically every opposition that dares to set foot. But the Windies are known to thrive on these moments of being written off to dish out a surprise. Tuesday (December 11) would be just in time to pull one of those out of the hat.