West Indies are the firm favourites to crush Bangladesh…….
The age old practice of scaring off wild animals with drums to keep them off crops will attain all too different meaning as Bangladesh set foot on Caribbean shores after four years. Dubbed as the Tigers, Bangladesh are likely to be intimidated by the Caribbean calypso given the recent upswing of the hosts in Test cricket.
This is Bangladesh’s fourth visit to the islands – 2004, 2009 and 2014 being the others. They have tasted success once but that came against a depleted Windies outfit. Both teams have come quite a distance since the last time they met in 2014. Two of the prime architects of Windies’ win then – Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Sulaiman Benn – are no longer in the setup although the Man of the Series, Kraigg Brathwaite, is well and truly one of West Indies’ big players.
Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel are still around but what makes them different is what makes Windies a formidable unit in Test cricket. Bangladesh, on the other hand, have improved by leaps and bounds as a nation but are nowhere near where they should be as a touring side, particularly outside the sub-continent.
What makes Bangladesh vulnerable
The biggest drawback Bangladesh have at the moment is the inability to impose themselves upon the opposition. In away Tests since the last Windies tour, Shakib-al-Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim are the only two to have formidable averages. That stems from brilliant individual knocks against New Zealand but aside from that Bangladesh have little to boast about outside their comfort zone.
The only four centuries they have outside home since the Windies tour of 2014 have also come from Shakib and Rahim (two apiece). The inability of Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar and others to step up and support the duo have hurt Bangladesh big. Unlike at home, where their crafty spinners cover up for their shoddy batting performances, Bangladesh are sitting ducks on tracks that offer a bit for seamers.
The bowling inspires even lesser confidence. Shakib-al-Hasan once again leads the numbers with 17 wickets in 5 Tests but those have come at an average of 41.05. Mehidy Hasan with 16 scalps comes next but has an average in the 60s. The fact that no frontline bowler has an average lesser than 40 in the last four years outside the sub-continent perhaps shows why Bangladesh’s supposed rise in Test cricket is a myth.
|Bowler||Wickets outside sub-continent since September, 2014||Average|
Why Windies are firm favorites to demolish the Tigers
Combine Bangladesh’s dismal show with the fact that Windies have been overpowering as a Test unit in recent times and you have the recipe for a lop-sided series. While on paper it appears to be a contest of equals, Windies’ recent upswing hasn’t been any kind of fluke. Right from their dominant bowling attack to their solid batsmen, Windies have oozed self-belief and morale of the highest standards.
They are no longer pegged back by the departure of some T20 stars. Instead, they have groomed a vibrant set of Test players who more often than not understand their roles in the side. The presence of a fabulous coach further helps the Windies. They have intimidated Pakistan, England and Sri Lanka in recent times, mostly with the help of a penetrative bowling attack capable of bowling out teams with panache and flair.
They say Test cricket is won by bowlers and Windies’ show in recent times has been an example. The fact that Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope, their two formidable top order batsmen, had little to do in West Indies drawn series against Lanka recently show the strength in the team.
Roston Chase, Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich form an impermeable lower middle-order that has annoyed the best of teams. What they have lacked up front with the bat, the trio has made up for with mind-blowing performances. Much of Windies’ fortunes have hinged on these three in recent times and they could use the series to brush up the problems in the top order.
All said and done, their bowlers make up for most of the discussion. Shannon Gabriel is turning into a world-class bowler and his skiddy pace and bounce is sure to keep the Bangladeshi batsmen guessing. Unsure in defence and footwork, Bangladesh’s top order are likely to find Gabriel and Roach too hot to handle. If that weren’t enough, Jason Holder’s new-found accuracy in line and length and ability to shape the bowl will pose a different question. Keemo Paul could replace the unimpressive Miguel Cummins. He has real pace and could be a valuable addition to the three in the squad. Add in Devendra Bishoo’s skill and Roston Chase’s ability to chip in and you have a bowling attack that could blow away the best of teams, forget the Bangladeshis.