Bangladesh's quicks seize their chance to make a mark

Mustafizur Rahman celebrates a wicket AFP

Having adopted a spin-heavy bowling attack for the two-Test series, Bangladesh bowling coach Courtney Walsh had said the fast bowlers could look to make a mark in the limited-overs leg. During the first ODI, the seamers did exactly that, and their efforts handed Bangladesh a win in Dhaka.

It started with Mustafizur Rahman bowling an accurate set of six balls to Shai Hope and Darren Bravo in the 10th over, giving away only one run. Mustafizur, who bowled the only four overs of pace in the two Tests against West Indies, was also effective in his remaining nine overs, finishing with figures of 3 for 35. Rubel Hossain and Mashrafe Mortaza also finished with three wickets each, as Mashrafe bagged his first Player-of-the-Match award in two years.

Mashrafe had spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Mehidy Hasan Miraz opening the bowling. The move had little to do with the conditions - it was more about exploiting Kieran Powell and Shai Hope's weakness against spin.

Following Shakib's early dismissal of Powell, Mashrafe removed Bravo and Hope in a short burst to stymie West Indies' recovery. Rubel then dismissed Marlon Samuels in the 40th over, and Mustafizur snuffed out the late chargers - Roston Chase and Keemo Paul - and gave away just eight runs in his last three overs.

While Mashrafe used the two spinners up front, he used the tried-and-tested tactics of using himself and Rubel through the middle overs, saving Rubel and Mustafizur for the last five overs. This strategy has worked well for the side in the last four years.

Among sides who have played at least ten ODIs this year, Bangladesh's fast bowlers are the third-most economical in the last 10 overs behind South Africa and India. In the last four years, their average of 19.66 in ODIs puts them above New Zealand, Pakistan, England, Sri Lanka and West Indies.

There's been growing confidence among Bangladesh's ODI quicks, and after the win on Sunday, Mashrafe was delighted with how they had changed the game on the day.

"Our pacers have always bowled well in this format," Mashrafe said. "It might be a different issue in Tests, particularly in those wickets. Mustafizur, myself we are all pretty much similar type of bowlers. We bowl cutters on a length. Rubel has pace and other variations. He tries the bouncer when batsmen go after him. There's no doubting his ability and we shouldn't judge him after one performance. We can't forget he took us to the Asia Cup final."

Mashrafe, who recently decided to set foot in politics, said his focus hadn't shifted from cricket.

"Of course there would be talk if I did badly, which is quite normal," he said. "I don't think focus moved in my 18-year long career, so why would it change now?

"I know myself quite well. I have been trying hard in the last few days, trying to bowl in the right areas in training."

West Indies allrounder Roston Chase, who made 32 off 38 balls, said the pace bowlers had been harder to score off than the spinners.

"When I went out to bat I thought that the pace was harder to get away than the spin," Chase said. "Based on the wicket, I thought the pacers really used their options well - they varied their pace on the wicket and it was helping them a lot.

"They bowled really straight and they didn't give us any width for us to cash in on. Spin played a big part in the Tests, but I thought the pacers really showed their worth today."