By Faisal Caesar
West Indies will be touring Bangladesh after almost nine years. The last time they visited the country in 2002, they blew the home team away. But two years back in the Caribbean Islands, Bangladesh beat West Indies in both Test and ODIs. Shakib Al Hasan led Bangladesh from the front and the rest of the team responded to their captain’s dynamism. Following the swirl of recent controversies, Shakib has been sacked as captain, making way for young Mushfiqur Rahim.
The combination of a poor Test record, off-field chaos and dismal performances in recent times makes Bangladesh the clear underdogs against the Windies.
West Indies, on the other hand, scored a shock win over England recently in a T20 game at The Oval. That would do them a world of good as the Englishmen were still on a high after annihilating India in all forms of cricket.
The Bangladeshi batting poses concern. It’s dependent heavily on Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. Bowling is the main strength of Bangladesh, led by Shakib. The man has gone through a lot of hurt and humiliation and he may just give expression to that anger by compelling on-field performances – both, with bat and the ball. Over the years Shakib’s bowling has proved critical in taking crucial wickets. His arm ball is lethal even to the very best in the business.
It will be interesting to see how Mushfiqur, the new captain, uses Shakib. It will be to his credit and Bangladesh’s advantage if Mushfiqur seeks the rich experience of Shakib in setting fields and plotting strategies. Shakib bowling in tandem with Rubel Hossain will test the Windies batsmen.
I’m hoping that Shahriar Nafees is retained in the team. I’m also hopeful that young Shuvagata Hom is given a chance, instead of wasting more time on Mohammad Ashraful. Hom deserves a place and so far has proved his worth.
It’s not going to be easy for Mushfiqur Rahim, who has to deliver as both as a captain and player to shut up the trenchant critics.
Yes, the West Indies will start favourites, but in Shakib and Tamim Bangladesh have two proven performers who can rattle the visitors.
(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)