The fired up Tigers of Bangladesh will be stalking the out-of-sorts West Indies team as they look to draw first blood in Saturday’s opening ODI Series, a day/night affair to be played at the Dhaka Stadium.
Having lost the Test series, the Windies lost further momentum when they succumbed to Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar’s twin tons in Thursday’s practice game. However, it must be considered that the visitors have been playing with a young side, and were hit with a few blows when the likes of skipper Jason Holder and Shannon Gabriel were brought down by injuries and suspension prior to, and during, the Test series.
The Windies’ guiding light for the year continues to be Shimron Hetmyer, who has maintained the form he displayed in the initial Home series in the Caribbean
versus the Tigers, wherein he slammed his first ton. He has now, with the bat, dominated the current Away series.
The Guyanese has jumped to career best spots in both ODIs and Tests; but despite some impetus from Hetmyer, Shai Hope in particular, and Roston Chase, it was bits and pieces with regards to the runs scored by the other batsmen.
With a shift in formats, the Tigers will also carry the momentum from the last series which they won in the Caribbean, and coupled with the fact that they pulled off such a heist with the likes of Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Sheldon Cottrell, Ashley Nurse and Holder in the Windies team, the hosts will be rearing to pick up where they left off.
The Windies will be looking for a definite turnaround of their fortunes, but with Bangladesh having a seasoned batting order, with a number of prolific knocks coming in 2018 from Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Shakib Al-Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad, who have been carrying the side, that achievement would not be easy in coming.
The Bangladesh top-order is one of the more dangerous, if risky, ones in limited overs cricket, and for the Caribbean side to topple them, the Windies would need some fire from pacers Oshane Thomas and Kemar Roach up front. The Windies secondary lot of bowlers includes Carlos Brathwaite; Devendra Bishoo, who will provide some spin; and possibly Keemo Paul, who missed out to Sherman Lewis
on playing in the last Test.
Guyanese left-hander Chandrapaul Hemraj will likely open the batting and get a chance to further his international career, with his countryman Hetmyer a possible candidate at the top of the order.
Rovman Powell, playing his first match as skipper, would have a lot of pressure placed on him, given that it’s his first run in that capacity and this is an international stage wherein the Windies have been looking for a way up. The Jamaican’s form with the bat in the recently concluded T10 series, wherein he smashed 80 and 61 both unbeaten, could inspire some confidence in the Windies, especially with the Tigers playing a variety of spinners.
At 37, Marlon Samuels, the oldest player in the side, has been one of the foremost underperformers for the latter half of 2018. After scoring 101 versus Canada in the Regional Super50, Samuels failed to get past 25 in the Indian tour, with 24 being his highest score.
His class is undeniable, but as the most senior batsman in the side, he should be desperate to show his worth, especially with a number of talented youngsters sitting on the sidelines.
Mashrafe Mortaza is a good leader, and has been doing a fantastic job as 50-Over skipper, leading with the ball and down the order with some handy knocks. As leader of the bowling unit, Mortaza will want the likes of Rubel Hossain and the star Mustafizur Rahman to carry their weight in the fast-bowling department.
Class spinner Mehedy Miraz Hasan, who ended the last Test with 12 victims, will provide handy support to Shakib and possibly Mahmudullah’s part-time spin.
The young Caribbean side, with a new skipper and enormous talent in the set-up, could easily regain their lost momentum and assert themselves as contenders in limited overs cricket.
Bangladesh would meanwhile want to retain their psychological advantage over the visitors, and continue on their way to possibly sweeping the series. The match is set to bowl off at 3:00hrs on Sunday.