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West Indies seek to extend dominance against Bangladesh in Test series

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Denesh Ramdin (Right) has been making rapid strides as batsman since his elevation to captaincy © Getty Images

Kingstown: Sept 4, 2014

West Indies and Bangladesh commence a two-Test series at the Arnos Vale Stadium in St Vincent on Friday with the hosts heavily favoured to extend their dominance over the visitors from the preceding limited-over matches. The visitors may take some heart in returning to the scene of an historic Test triumph over a severely depleted Caribbean side on their last campaign in the region five years ago.

However their performances in last month’s One-Day Internationals (ODIs), where they were swept 3-0 and were only really competitive in the first match, hardly bodes well for this fixture and the following Test in St Lucia. Usually strong in the spin bowling department, Bangladesh go into the brief series without their hero from the 2009 tour, left-arm spinning all-rounder Shakib al Hasan, who remains unavailable for national duty to suspension for disciplinary violations.

To make matters worse, skipper Mushfiqur Rahim will not be able to call on the services of off-spinner Sohag Gazi, whose bowling action was reported as suspect by the umpires during the second ODI in Grenada.He has since returned home and his place is to be taken by the left-arm spinner Elias Sunny, although it is questionable whether he will be match fit for the first Test.

Given their limited bowling resources, Bangladesh’s best chance of avoiding being trampled by the West Indies again will be for their batsmen to rise to the occasion on what are expected to be placid pitches for the two Tests. Mushfiqur and Nasir Hossain compiled hundreds in the high-scoring drawn three-day match against a St Kitts Invitational XI in Basseterre over the weekend.

And with 22-year-old Mominul Haque carrying an impressive record of three hundreds in seven Tests and an average of 75.50 into the series, determined and resolute batting seems the only option for Bangladesh to thwart a West Indian side keen to make amends under new captain Denesh Ramdin for a 2-1 home series loss to New Zealand in July. Two key players, mystery spinner Sunil Narine and experienced all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, are unavailable for the Tests due to commitments with their Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises for the Indian Champions League tournament, which gets underway September 13.

However Narine’s absence gives gangling left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn another opportunity to cement a place in the Test side after bowling successful marathon spells in the three matches against the New Zealanders. With four faster bowlers named in the squad of 13, the nature of the pitch on the first morning is likely to determine whether tearaway pacer Shannon Gabriel gets the nod or if the selectors will keep faith with the trio of Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor and Jason Holder.

While the shortcomings of the West Indies batting line-up were exploited by the efficient New Zealanders, these two matches against a much less reputable bowling attack offer the Caribbean batsmen the prospect of a run-feast. One has already whetted his appetite.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the Kingstown 40-year-old who has played more Tests – 156 – than any other West Indian and is second only to Brian Lara for the most runs by a West Indies cricketer – 11,414 – compiled 183 in the warm-up match against Bangladesh at Warner Park.

It is an ominous portent for Mushfiqur and his men. While Chris Gayle continues to struggle for runs at the top of the order in 2014, opening partner Kraigg Brathwaite and middle-order player Darren Bravo both hit hundreds against New Zealand.

Jermaine Blackwood, who scored 63 in his debut innings against the Black Caps in Trinidad and was promptly dropped for the third and final Test in Barbados, is likely to have the chance to make the selectors regret that act of omission.

Squads:

West Indies: Chris Gayle, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin (c), Jason Holder, Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach, Sulieman Benn.

Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque, Imrul Kayes, Shamsur Rahman, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim (c), Mahmudullah, Shuvagata Hom, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain.

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