Mushfiqur tells players to step up in Shakib's absence
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has said the absence of the allrounder Shakib Al Hasan for the first two ODIs presents an opportunity for the younger players to step up. Shakib, who played the two Tests, was ruled out due to a shin injury and Mushfiqur said the presence of four new players in the squad makes the task all the more challenging.
"If we had Shakib we could have taken an extra batsman depending on the wicket," Mushfiqur said ahead of the first ODI in Khulna. "Now our batsmen have to take more responsibility and the bowlers also need to do the same as we have one option reduced. Those in the team are capable but it will be challenging for them."
It is unlikely that all four new players will be picked for the first two ODIs. Sohag Gazi and Abul Hasan made Test debuts against West Indies, while Anamul Haque and Mominul Haque are yet to play international cricket.
"It is a challenge for the new players as we think West Indies are stronger in ODIs than Tests," Mushfiqur said. "But at the same time those who are coming into the team have been performing in their respective areas. Hopefully whoever debuts will continue to do so, and we can perform as a team."
Bangladesh have played just four ODIs this year, all during the Asia Cup at home in March when they beat India and Sri Lanka. Though they lost to Pakistan in the final, Mushfiqur said his team will bank on the positives from their performance in the tournament, ahead of the five-match series against West Indies.
"We played well in the Asia Cup where there were a few big teams. We play consistently well in the one-day format so we are confident. We did not play too many one-day games too this year apart from the Asia Cup, so it is a challenge.
"The other positive thing for me is that some of our batsmen are among the runs. If they can remain confident it will help us settle quickly," he said.
Mushfiqur said West Indies were "the strongest team" going around in ODIs at the moment, but was confident that if they can be contained, Bangladesh will hold the advantage quickly. The new ODI rules allow only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle for 35 overs in an innings, and West Indies possess some of the biggest hitters in the game.
"If you see strength-wise, I think West Indies is the strongest team in the world at the moment. They have batsman like [Chris] Gayle, [Kieron] Pollard and [Marlon] Samuels who can play strokes at will," Mushfiqur said.
"But if we can maintain our line and length, and the spinners can get something from the wicket, we will be able to get them out. If we can contain them, build the pressure from both sides, hopefully they will also make mistakes."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent