Rovman Powell questions Bangladesh's skills against pace

Mashrafe Mortaza finds a reason to smile in a press interaction AFP

West Indies captain Rovman Powell's claim that Bangladesh's batsmen "do not like" fast bowling drew a fairly strong reaction from his opposite number Mashrafe Mortaza. The two sides are tied one-all heading into the decider in Sylhet where pace, like in Dhaka, isn't supposed to play a major part because of the slow and low nature of the pitch.

"It is a fact. Bangladesh don't like fast bowling. We are definitely looking to exploit it and hopefully tomorrow we can do that," Powell said, when asked which area in the Bangladesh side he wanted to exploit.

An hour later, Mashrafe was asked if he also thought facing fast bowling was a problem for his side. But he disagreed, saying that it was losing wickets at the wrong time that hurt them in the second ODI, not pace.

"We have lost a wicket at the top but, largely, we have tackled their fast bowling in the first two matches," Mashrafe said. "Tamim, Mushfiqur, [Mahmudullah] Riyad and Shakib played them comfortably. If Tamim and Shakib didn't get out in those stages, things would have been a lot different. I don't think their pace bowlers have made much of an impact.

"There used to be a time when it was a problem, but not anymore. Extreme pace troubles any batsman but it is manageable when it is around 140-143 kmph."

He said that Oshane Thomas, West Indies' fastest bowler, has been handled well, with Shakib taking him on towards the end of the innings in the second game. "[Thomas] conceded at nearly six an over on both days," Mashrafe said. "If that makes him their best bowler, then we have handled him comfortably.

"I think the key has been losing wickets at important moments. We couldn't execute our plans, which is why we made just 64 runs in the last 10 overs. Not because of pace. Shakib took 16 runs off an over from the guy who bowls 147 kmph."

Soumya Sarkar and Mushfiqur Rahim fell to aggressive shots off Thomas, caught behind and caught at third man, after Imrul Kayes had also been caught behind in the fourth over. Imrul also fell to Thomas in the first ODI, bowled through bat and pad.

Kemar Roach has taken one wicket in the two matches so far but his change of pace, during the slog overs of the second ODI, troubled the Bangladesh lower order.

In five ODIs against West Indies' fast bowlers this year, Bangladesh's batsmen have a batting average of 47.33, a strike rate of 104.41 and at a run rate of 6.26. Bangladesh's batting average against pace in 2018 of 28.66 is a tad below their 10-year average of 29.16 but their run rate (5.39) and strike rate (89.88) are at par.