“Overall, there is enough fuel in the tank of Windies bowling attack to explore the vulnerability in the Bangladesh batting line-up”
The forthcoming two-match Test series between Bangladesh and the Windies is expected to be a highly competitive event. At home on those dry low pitches, the Tigers are always a tough nut to crack, especially while playing against a non-sub-continental team. Whereas West Indies, who are now officially known as the Windies, are coming here following a full tour of India, where they have encountered similar conditions. Hence, in terms of acclimatisation, the visitors should have some sort an advantage and it was evident from their performance in the two-day warm fixture in Chittagong recently.
In July-August this year, when these two teams locked horns in the Caribbean, Bangladesh were just blown apart in the Test series as the hosts wrapped up both the matches within three days on those juicy pacer-friendly surfaces. In the space of five months, as expected, both line-ups remain almost identical except this time the Windies will miss the services of the regular skipper Jason Holder, who has been ruled out of the tour due to a shoulder injury. In his place opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite will lead the side and this time, his boys need to be right on their toes to beat Bangladesh at their own backward.
In this series, the biggest challenge for the Windies will be countering the spin-threat and from this point of view, their batters’ recent experience of tackling India’s spin-trio of Kuldeep Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be invaluable to them. In India, they may have faced a 0-2 throbbing in the Test matches, but both in Rajkot and Hyderabad, there were patches when the likes of Roston Chase, Kieran Powell showed glimpses of their talents. Even during the ODIs, Shai Hope and Shimron Hetmyer had a wood over India’s much talked about wrist-spinners.
Well, there is hardly any doubt about the kind of talent these young Windies batters possess. The area of concern is their temperament and execution, in which the new coach Nic Pothas and the rest of the support staff need to work on.
The stand-in skipper Brathwaite is a key man in this Windies batting line-up. He is one of those traditional old-fashioned top-order batsman. And with his expertise of handling spin, the team management certainly wants him to play the anchor role. Brathwaite, alongside his opening partner Powell Indies’ is in the top of Windies’ Test run-makers chart this year. Shane Dowrich and Chase aren’t far behind.
Furthermore, a lot of focus will be on young Sunil Ambris, the hard-hitting middle-order batsman from St. Lucia. Prior to the Test series in India, he scored a counter-attacking hundred in a warm-up fixture but failed to live up to the expectation in the Test matches. In Bangladesh, the youngster would like to rectify his mistakes.
The impressive fact about this Windies line-up is, they bat deep, right down to No. 9. If all the batsmen can come up with a collective show, there is no reason why the visitors cannot put up competitive scores on the board. And skipper Brathwaite believes the ‘right attitude’ on the part of each of his batsman can serve the purpose.
“I just think Test cricket is a mindset,” he said in the pre-match presser. “They have some good spinners but you need to have some good fast bowlers, so whatever our plans are, we have to believe in them, and back them. We must have the right attitude towards each bowler. It will serve us well.
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“It was quite similar conditions in India. It was good for us. The two-day game was also good for us. It will put us in good stead. Young Shimron Hetmyer, Sunil Ambris and Shai Hope are raring to go and we are really looking forward to the challenge,” he added.
The bowling, meanwhile, has a lot of potential. With Kemar Roach coming back in the side, their pace department will get a much-needed boost. In fact, his opening burst with the new ball alongside Shannon Gabriel will be a key aspect of their gameplan. Whereas Devendra Bishoo will be their main spinner. Also, considering the conditions, left-arm tweaker Jomel Warrican may get preference in the XI ahead of medium pacer Keemo Paul. Furthermore, Chase can also chip in with his more than handy part-time off-spin.
Overall, there is enough fuel in the tank of Windies bowling attack to explore the vulnerability in the Bangladesh batting line-up.
Presently, the Windies are at a process of building a team for the future. The Courtney Browne-led selection panel has already made it clear that they will only invest in those who value international cricket and playing under the Windies banner. And following their last home season, one must feel the tactics have started to produce desired results. And now, despite the outcome in the India tour, the boys from the Caribbean are well prepared to make their presence felt in Bangladesh.