WI must win series against Bangladesh for selectors’ sake

The West Indies senior team as well as its selectors will have their hands full and pressure piled up on them to win the two-test series against Bangladesh which starts today, especially since the selectors are already under fire for their decisions.

The move to retain Devon Smith and Miguel Cummins in the 13-man squad named for the series, shows the faith the selectors have in the two who were the weakest links in the side but afforded the chance to play all three tests against Sri Lanka.

Smith scored 91 runs at an average of just over 15, less than fast bowler Kemar Roach while Cummins claimed only three wickets at an average of 73 after sending down 77.4 overs.

Part time spinner, Roston Chase averaged 13 with four wickets from just 19 overs.

Smith, who was recalled after being the leading run getter in the regional tournament, was given another chance at international cricket after a three-year hiatus but failed to capitalize.

Surely in any top ranked side that performance would have been the final nail in the coffin of his career and would have cost him his spot in the team.

Like Smith, Cummins failed to come to the party with bowlers having a field day and was thought by many pundits to not have a chance in the final test after the choice was made to replace batsman, Hetmyer with all-rounder Paul.

However, bizarrely, Cummins was given another opportunity and lived up to expectations by failing to take a single wicket in the match.

It is evident that the selectors are showing consistency in rewarding mediocracy while making it evident, performance is not a criteria when selecting a side.

Regardless, West Indies are favourites, having won their last five test matches against this side.

However, both sides have made drastic changes since they last met in 2014.

For starters, West Indies skipper Jason Holder has never played  against Bangladesh.

Holder has become a full-fledged all-rounder, currently ranking sixth in the test player rankings while rated at 54th and 25th in the batting and bowling rankings respectively.

Also in the spotlight will be Kraigg Brathwaite who will look to lead the batting line up. Brathwaite averages 58 against Bangladesh with his best, 212, coming against them. With the ball, Roach has been the most successful, claiming 25 wickets at an average of 20 while Shannon Gabriel has taken five at an average of 29.

Bangladesh, on the other hand will be coming with their all with their top order looking solid. Tamim Iqbal averages 45 in the Caribbean with a century and five fifties against the hosts.  Skipper, Shakib Al Hasan, who is the number one all-rounder in the format, has scored five half centuries at an average of 53 against the West Indies while taking 29 wickets, 13 of which were in the Caribbean.

Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah are also decent against the locals, averaging 39 and 30 with the bat respectively.

Iqbal seems to be in good knock, scoring a stunning 125 in the warm up match against Cricket West Indies President’s XI. Mahmudullah also scored a century in that match with Al Hasan stroking 67.

Gabriel was exceptional in the previous series against Sri Lanka where he was the leading wicket taker and had the third best bowling figures by a West Indianand he will be looked upon to replicate or better that performance.

Similarly, leading run scorer of the Sri Lanka series, Shane Dowrich will be expected to carry the middle order as he did previously.

With history on their side, the locals will feel confident heading into the series with a chance to advance their disappointing ranking from ninth (only above Zimbabwe), to eighth, above Bangladesh.

But this can only be accomplished with a series win since a draw will result in the teams remaining on the same rating points.

The West Indians seem to be lacking the killer instinct as well as the right think-team, but this can be expected after rarely being in a position of dominance in recent times.

In the drawn series against Sri Lanka they won the first test, drew the second and lost the third.

Despite that, Cricket West Indies has expressed confidence in the side, praising them for the drawn series that should have been won.

Their satisfaction with the mediocre performance  coupled with their faith in the underachievers, should result in the West Indies selectors  feeling the wrath  of the Caribbean if the team fails to win this series.

The first ball bowls off at 10:00hrs at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua today.

Around the Web