As Mushfiqur Rahim scored his eighth ODI hundred on a tricky wicket in Dhaka against Sri Lanka this year, the Bangladesh stalwart passed 6500 ODI runs in an impressive career so far.
This clash at Taunton is a must-win game for both West Indies and Bangladesh.
After a positive start for each, beating Pakistan and South Africa respectively, the two sides have gone off the rails with two losses and a no result apiece. The West Indies, with a poor showing in all three aspects of their game, have just been hammered by the disciplined Poms, while Bangladesh will be desperate to make up for the rain costing them a very good chance of getting back to their winning ways against Sri Lanka.
It’s no coincidence that Bangladesh have won all of their ODI matches this year off the back of a 50-plus run opening stand. With neither of the openers converting their starts, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim are being relied upon far too much to rebuild and put up a respectable total. Tamim Iqbal hasn’t had a great 2019 but his record against the West Indies isn’t bad – he’s scored runs against them recently by grinding out his starts.
Soumya Sarkar has played some decent knocks against the Windies, having scored four consecutive half-centuries in their last four encounters, averaging an impressive 49.33 against them. However, he needs to deliver when it counts under pressure in a World Cup match.
The pacers have to step up soon as the three seamers, comprising Mohammad Saifuddin, Mashrafe Mortaza and Mustafizur Rahman, have all gone for more than seven an over and need to execute their plans against a very powerful Windies side on such a small ground. Perhaps Rubel Hossain could come in and bring a bit more pace into the line-up. His ability to get his yorkers and bouncers will be handy, and although he isn’t as quick as Jofra Archer, he can use his pace to bounce the Windies batsmen out.
This Windies side have shown how heavily reliant they are on Chris Gayle and Shai Hope. If one of them doesn’t deliver, the other rarely does. Having Shai Hope being pushed around as opener and No. 3 this World Cup is hurting his form and the Windies’ chances of making the semi-finals. He should be opening with Gayle as he struggles to find the gaps at the beginning of his innings when the field is spread out compared to when he plays shots on the up during the powerplay overs.
The Windies bowling is way too one-dimensional. It’s very predictable that they want to bounce out their opponents and they don’t have a plan B should it not work. Andre Russell’s knees are another problem, but he should be fit for the clash at Taunton.
There’s a reason Bangladesh are ranked above the West Indies in ODI cricket, having won seven of their last nine clashes in ODI cricket and having won more ODI series than them between the last two World Cups. But that’ll count for nothing if they don’t turn up for their must-win clash.
Both sides have inspirational leaders who have no egos and have the ability to have players willing to die for them if needed. While the Windies batting line-up will like the short boundaries and a relatively flat pitch, I think Bangladesh will just prevail in a very tight contest. Fingers crossed the rain stays away.
Liton Das for Mohammad Mithun, Rubel Hossain for Mosaddek Hossain.
Darren Bravo for Evin Lewis, Ashley Nurse for Shannon Gabriel, Fabian Allen for Andre Russell if Russel isn’t fit.