– Saleque Sufi
When the world and sporting masses are deeply intoxicated with drugs of FIFA World Cup, 8th and 9th ICC ranked teams West Indies and Bangladesh lock horns in a very important test series from today. Fortunately there is a break for two days in world cup schedule which after series of dramas has entered quarterfinal round. Cricket admirers of Bangladesh would have time to divert attention to cricket.
The test series commences on Wednesday at Sir VIV Richards Stadium, Antigua with hosts expected to continue the trend of greener, bouncer pitches and a pace attack seeking to put visitors on the back foot from the outset . We are not sure that the cream of Bangladesh batting have bones dealing with fast rising deliveries of tearaway West Indian fast bowlers Shanon Gabriel and Kemar Roach.
We are not sure Bangladesh could make ideal preparation in low slow docile wickets in Bangladesh. West Indies crushed Sri Lanka in the first test but themselves crushed to loose the second test against a lively pace attack of the visitors. Bangladesh test squad does not posses that level of pace bowling without Mustafiz and Taskin. It will be a see saw battle of Bangladesh batting against Sri Lankan pace.
Bangladesh has climbed above West Indies in test ranking. West Indies will leave nothing unturned to win the series. The second test to follow at Sabina Park in Jamaica a week later, the tourists should keep in mind the quality of the playing surfaces for the just-concluded three-Test series against Sri Lanka, which ended on a bowler-friendly surface.
The Sri Lankans fought back to achieve a series-levelling four-wicket win, the first time a day/night Test was played in the Caribbean and the first time that a team from Asia had ever won a Test match at that famed venue. Bangladesh pace attack without two two key pacers Taskin and Mustafiz nursing injuries does not look to have same bites as that of the Lankans.
This two matches test series is very important for both teams . West Indies after relentless struggle in regaining its feet in test cricket has just started tweeting with a young team. They have got the better of Srilanka in a very difficult series. Bangladesh cricket is going through a state of topsy turvy over the last 12 months. West Indies in West Indies used to be a very difficult team to beat in their hey days . Bangladesh won a series against them but that was against a very depleted West Indies team as most of the front line players abstained for disputes with the board.
Bangladesh had very successful time in test cricket for a while drawing series against England and Austrlia at home and aginst Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka . But their cricket dipped from comprehensive series white wash in South Africa . Very recently rookies Afghanistan white washed them in T20 series. Shell shocked team tigers have lot to prove in unfamiliar Carribean condition where ball bounces and moves . West Indies in Gabriel and Roach have two fearsome fast bowlers in red hot form. Bangladesh does not play that well fast bowling . But on the other hand Bangladesh has a reasonably good batting unit and all round attack . Young West Indian batsmen may find Bangladesh quality spin attack a bit difficult dealing with.
Bangladesh are relying on the experience of Rubel Hossain to challenge what has proven to be a very vulnerable West Indies top-order batting. It remains to be seen if the uncapped Abu Jayed is given the opportunity to share the new ball in conditions which may actually be encouraging for the rookie. There is no doubt though that the Bangladeshis’ main bowling strength at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium will rest in the spin department in the shape of captain and all-rounder Shakib al Hasan, off-break bowler Mehidy Hasan and off-spinning all-rounder Mahmudullah.
Shakib and Mahmudullah are among six players of the present Bangladesh squad with happy memories of their first visit to this part of the cricketing world in 2009 when they dominated the Tests and One-Day Internationals against a West Indies team severely depleted by a standoff between the premier players and the regional administrators.
The tour comprises of tests , ODIs and T20s . We are not sure whether playing test series ahead of ODI and T20 would be ideal for Bangladesh in vastly different condition .Bangladesh can compete well if Batsmen can apply and present to bowlers enough runs to fight.