(Cricinfo) It’s been a tough year for Bangladesh. After convincing home one-day series wins against New Zealand and Zimbabwe last year, which helped them go above West Indies in the ICC one-day international rankings, many expected 2011 to be the year Bangladesh would permanently shed the “minnow” tag.
Instead, they failed to make it past the group stages of the World Cup, were thrashed at home by Australia and then lost both the one-off Test and ODI series in Zimbabwe. Their captain and vice-captain were sacked after that tour and it is under Mushfiqur Rahim that they attempt a climb back up the rankings. In coming up against West Indies, they revisit the moment when it all started going wrong – when they were bowled out for 58 by the same opponents in a crunch World Cup game in Mirpur, a performance that caused their angry fans to aim stones at the team bus, only to hit the visitors’ bus instead.
Bangladesh’s strength at home is based on the effectiveness of their spinners on slow, turning tracks. West Indies, though, might not find the conditions as alien as sides like New Zealand and Zimbabwe. The pitches in the Caribbean of late have often resembled subcontinent ones, and four of West Indies’ batsmen will come to Bangladesh straight from having played for Trinidad & Tobago in the Champions League Twenty20 in India.
West Indies do not have Sunil Narine or Samuel Badree, who were so successful for T&T in Indian conditions, in their squad, but the presence of Devendra Bishoo and Andre Russell, who bowl a good slower ball, means they have an attack that can adapt to the conditions. They established their status as favourites by winning both their practice matches against a strong BCB XI outfit, one through a strong bowling performance and the other through a century from Marlon Samuels.
For Bangladesh, a Twenty20 international is the last way they would want to start a comeback. They have only played 16 in their history and their last T20 win came way back in 2007. For West Indies, Twenty20 represents everything that is right and wrong with their cricket. A shock win in England, and T&T’s eye-catching performance in the CLT20 suggest this might actually be the format in which West Indies see most success in the near future.
Mushfiqur Rahim is stepping into the shoes of a man who led from the front. Mushfiqur is as not as outstanding an individual performer as Shakib. He is safe behind the stumps and handy with the bat, but has not won Bangladesh as many games as Shakib has – he has just one hundred in limited-overs internationals. Having been handed the captaincy he will want to contribute more than just cameos down the order and may promote himself.
Marlon Samuels’ comeback to international cricket has not really taken off. But in the warm-up Twenty20, he blazed his way to 102 off 56 balls. In the absence of Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Dwayne Bravo, Samuels is the most experienced player in the West Indies limited-overs squad. This series is an opportunity for him to show he still has the capability to become the world-class batsman he was expected to be when he first arrived on the international scene, way back in 2000. Bangladesh has picked the uncapped Elias Sunny in their squad and may want to give him a chance before the one-day series starts. That may mean resting one of Mahmudullah or Nasir Hossain. Alok Kapali and Mohammad Ashraful are the experienced hands in the squad but there may only be place for one in the batting line-up.
With several senior players returning, the West Indies side will have a completely different look to the one that upset England at The Oval. They used just one specialist spinner in their XIs for both the practice matches but considering the conditions may play both Devendra Bishoo and Anthony Martin, meaning Kemar Roach could be left out. Kieron Pollard is not eligible to play in T20Is since he did not play the Caribbean T20, so Danza Hyatt will probably occupy a slot in the middle order.
Bangldesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal 2 Imrul Kayes 3 Naeem Islam 4 Shakib Al Hasan 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk) 6 Alok Kapali 7 Mahmudullah 8 Abdur Razzak 9 Shafiul Islam 10 Elias Sunny/ Nazmul Hossain 11 Rubel Hossain
West Indies (probable): 1 Adrian Barath 2 Lendl Simmons 3 Darren Bravo 4 Marlon Samuels 5 Danza Hyatt 6 Denesh Ramdin (wk) 7 Andre Russell 8 Darren Sammy (capt) 9 Ravi Rampaul 10 Devendra Bishoo 11 Anthony Martin/ Kemar Roach