Flawed teams resume rivalry
August 20, 2014
Start time 0930 local (1330 GMT)
The penultimate ball of the last ODI series between Bangladesh and West Indies is a mini YouTube sensation. Elias Sunny, having thought that Nasir Hossain's slice off Andre Russell had gone to the boundary, began uprooting the stumps in celebration.
"The way Nasir hit that ball and started celebrating, I thought the ball went to the boundary," Sunny said. "He thought I had completed the run so he started to celebrate. I returned from very near the popping crease. I would have completed the run if I knew it wasn't a boundary. It was due to excitement. The ball was dead when the team had entered the field. If I had walked towards the striker's end, I the ball would have been live and that could have been risky."
The West Indies players were beside themselves with laughter even as they retrieved the ball. Chris Gayle wasn't too serious with his protest, but he did speak to the umpire through the giggles. The next ball, Nasir cut a boundary, giving Bangladesh the rightful claim to beating a full-strength West Indies side at home, after nearly giving it away a few times. After Bangladesh raced to a 2-0 lead in Khulna, West Indies hit back to level the series and set up a tie-breaker in Mirpur, which Bangladesh clinched through gritty performances.
This time, the series promises similar thrills as both West Indies and Bangladesh have a lot to prove, say and play for. The home side's last assignment had them losing the three-match Test series against New Zealand and drawing the T20s. They haven't won any series or tournament this year apart from a three-match T20 series against England and a one-off ODI against Ireland.
Under Dwayne Bravo, West Indies have now won three out of seven ODIs this year, and 11 out of 25 since he took over from Darren Sammy. Bravo himself has been the team's best batsman and bowler this year, averaging 93.50 and taking 12 wickets in seven ODIs. But apart from Lendl Simmons, none of the other batsmen have even crossed 200 runs this year, while none have reached double-figures in the wickets column apart from left-arm spinner Nikita Miller, who has taken 10 wickets. They will also have the issue of going into the series right after Ottis Gibson's departure from the West Indies set-up.
Since mid-July, the West Indies players have been busy in the Caribbean Premier League. The T20 tournament ended on August 16, four days before the first ODI. Simmons was the tournament's top-scorer, with Chris Gayle in third position. Among the bowlers, Ravi Rampul was the leading wicket-taker and Sunil Narine the only other bowler in the ODI squad among the top ten.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, are not the happiest cricket team in the world at the moment. They are in their favourite destination but in 2014, they have only drawn one Test against Sri Lanka and won two T20s, against Nepal and Afghanistan. They have a losing streak to break in one-day cricket, their favourite format, and several players including Tamim Iqbal are out of form.
On top of everything for the visitors is the absence of Shakib Al Hasan due to a six-month suspension. The only solace in this case is that they beat West Indies 3-2 in 2012 without Shakib. Whether that will motivate them further is a different question, as the losses this year should be motivation enough for a turnaround.
Two flawed teams can make for compelling viewing. For Bangladesh fans, it would mean staying up till the wee hours of the morning but that is an adventure that has given them a lot of pleasure in the past.
West Indies LLWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Chris Gayle hasn't played an ODI since November 21 last year when, in an effort to avoid being run-out, he fell awkwardly and pulled his hamstring. He has played T20s and the Test series against New Zealand this year, scoring just the two fifties.
Mashrafe Mortaza has continued to lead Bangladesh's pace attack, having become a sharper customer as the years have gone by. Though he has taken just four wickets in five ODIs this year, he has looked threatening with the new ball and having new balls from both ends has actually helped him maintain composure later in matches.
It would make sense for the West Indies to play the tall Jason Holder against a side not too comfortable with pace and bounce. Kirk Edwards is expected to return to the side in the absence of Kieran Powell and Dwayne Smith, the pair that opened in West Indies' last ODI. Nikita Miller might miss out if West Indies decide to play the extra seamer.
West Indies (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Kirk Edwards, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Lendl Simmons, 5 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 6 Dwayne Bravo (capt), 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Darren Sammy, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Jason Holder, 11 Kemar Roach
Bangladesh may wait till the last minute to decide whether to include Sohag Gazi or Abdur Razzak in the specialist spinner's role. Imrul Kayes has been told by the coach that he will bat at No. 3, and it is likely that Mominul Haque will bat just after him.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Anamul Haque, 3 Imrul Kayes, 4 Mithun Ali/Mominul Haque, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Abdur Razzak/Sohag Gazi, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Al-Amin Hossain
Pitch and conditions
Last year's three-match series between West Indies and Zimbabwe was played at St George's, where the overall run-rate was a shade over five per over, and the bowler's struck after every 46 balls on an average. Suffice to say there will be decent batting conditions but since it will be a 9.30am start, the team winning the toss will have second thoughts before deciding to bat first.
Stats and trivia
- Imrul Kayes has played just a solitary Test and ODI this year, scoring a century and a fifty respectively
- Marlon Samuels, the highest scorer in ODIs between these two sides, has been left out
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84