The Bangladeshis get into a huddle © Getty Images
Bangladesh’s dominance over West Indies in the last twelve months has provided one of the foundation stones of their confidence coming into the World Cup. They have won seven out of nine ODI meetings in this period, winning bilateral series both home and away, and blanking West Indies 3-0 during the tri-series in Ireland last month.
The tri-series win was Bangladesh’s first trophy in an ODI tournament featuring three or more teams, a performance that came as a much-needed boost right before the World Cup. But despite having done so well against them in the recent past, Bangladesh will take West Indies lightly at their own peril, as they gear up for a World Cup meeting on Monday in Taunton.
The inclusions of the likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell and Nicholas Pooran – all of whom were absent from the Ireland tri-series – shouldn’t bother Bangladesh unduly; they have beaten West Indies sides featuring these players over the last 12 months. But the way West Indies have begun the World Cup – the manner of their play if not necessarily their results – should make Bangladesh wary.
West Indies crushed Pakistan in their opening game and were on top of Australia for large chunks of their next game. Their fast bowlers began promisingly against South Africa before that game was washed out and, notwithstanding their result against England, West Indies can be said to have found their mojo.
Bangladesh will be confident, but so will West Indies, who will want the points to go with the brightness of their play, and will come extra hard as a result.
The man best placed to comment on this contest is Courtney Walsh, the West Indies legend who is now Bangladesh’s fast-bowling coach. Walsh, who has been in charge for almost three years, knows both ends of the story, but it is the Bangladesh one that will interest him the most.
“We were very consistent in every department right throughout that tri-nation [series],” Walsh said. “We have been hampered a little bit by the weather here. It is out of our control. If we can get the consistency in the next couple of games, who knows what can happen?”
The hitting threat of Gayle and Russell looms particularly large – they have both been guilty so far of failing to convert menacing starts into bigger scores.
“We are coming up with some ideas and plans looking at their [West Indies’] current game [against England],” Walsh said. “They are two dangerous players we have to try to restrict, and get them out at the same time to have more control of the game. We will be focused on their team itself, because they have very good players in their team as well. I am sure we can perform as a team against West Indies.”
Walsh said the experience of beating West Indies with Gayle and Russell last July, in ODI and T20I series away from home, would certainly encourage Bangladesh. However, he pointed out that the stage being altogether different means that they cannot be satisfied with the results from the last 12 months.
“It is a big plus for us. They are two world-class players. But it is a different tournament. We have to do it all over again,” he said. “We will be looking in the context of the game itself. We will be seeing players who didn’t come to Bangladesh or play against us in the West Indies.
“They are probably full strength. We have been playing consistently well against West Indies. As long as we don’t take anything for granted or become complacent.”
Mohammad Saifuddin celebrates after removing Colin de Grandehomme © Getty Images
Walsh said the Bangladesh bowlers have shown the consistency over the recent past to compensate for their lack of express pace. Mustafizur Rahman has had an up-and-down time at the World Cup, in terms of his figures, and went for 75 in nine overs against England, but Walsh felt he has been bowling well.
“You have to have pace sometimes but for me, consistency, control and execution is more important. If you don’t have the 140-150kph [pace], then you have to compensate [for] that. We have certainly been consistent, hitting the right areas and getting good variation. The guys have been working hard but you will have bad games here and there. Consistency is the key for us, and try to get good variation.
“[Mustafiz] went for a few but I don’t think he bowled badly. I just think that when he played against a side like England, every loose ball that he bowled went away for boundaries. When that happens, the figures don’t look good. I personally thought he bowled well in this game, probably 80 per cent of the way that he bowled. If the 20 per cent that went for boundaries didn’t go, figures won’t have looked so bad.”
Rubel Hossain hasn’t been picked in any of Bangladesh’s matches so far, and Walsh said he was ready and raring to go.
“He had a very good season last year. He is bowling pretty well this year too, but because of the formation of the team, he hasn’t been able to get in. I just hope he takes his chance well with still a couple of more games left in the tournament.
“He has been bowling well in the nets so it is a plus for Bangladesh cricket. Hopefully whenever he gets his chance, he will make it count.”
Walsh said tackling West Indies’ quicks in the early exchanges would be crucial as to how the rest of the match unfolds for Bangladesh. “It will be difficult against the new ball against any team. But I don’t think it will be a lot difficult for us once we negotiate well. Wicket is under cover so anything could happen in the first couple of overs. Normally there are high-scoring games here.
“We are hoping for the same. We have enough quality players in the Bangladesh side to cope with it. We are not overawed by the wicket. Once we get a solid start, we will be okay.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo