There will be very few secrets between the sides when Bangladesh take on West Indies in their World Cup game today in Taunton. They have played each other home and away over the last year and both sides have a fair idea of the players they will come up against today at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton, where the match will start at 10:30 am (3:30 pm Bangladesh time).
Both sides will be understandably desperate to win the match as they each have three points from four matches in the World Cup so far. Both started well with Bangladesh winning against South Africa and West Indies blowing away Pakistan. Two losses and a washout followed for each side.
Bangladesh have dominated West Indies in the recent past, winning seven out of nine ODIs played in the West Indies, Bangladesh and most recently, the tri-series in Ireland last month. However, this West Indies team -- with the return of power-hitters like Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis and Andre Russell -- pack a bit more punch than the one that lost three matches against the Tigers in Ireland.
Their bowling has also become more aggressive, with five pacers in Oshane Thomas, skipper Jason Holder, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Russell and Carlos Brathwaite looking to bounce batsmen out. Russell, one of the more feared hitters in world cricket now, is a doubt for today’s game as he did not practise yesterday after a lingering knee injury kept him to just two overs in their match against England on Friday.
Bangladesh’s practice has also been fit to purpose, with the Tigers facing a lot of short deliveries in the nets over the past two days. That ploy resulted in Mushfiqur Rahim sustaining a painful blow to the right forearm while batting in the nets on Saturday morning, and while he was present at practice yesterday, he did not bat at the nets. An X-Ray done Saturday evening revealed no fractures and skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza said yesterday that Mushfiqur was ‘totally fine’, so him not batting at the nets may have been a precautionary measure.
While the opposition may hold no surprises, the pitch and ground may yet confound the Tigers. There has been grass on the wicket over the last two days, which may influence Bangladesh to play an extra pacer in Rubel Hossain. It will have to be an extra pacer because pace-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin seemed to have recovered from some back issues. If Rubel were to be included, it would most likely be in place of a batsman in Mosaddek Hossain as off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz has been the most successful against West Indies over the last year and has also been Bangladesh’s most economical bowler in the four matches so far.
Bangladesh would be heartened by the fact that there is no rain forecast for today, although that is subject to change in England. If the grass is mown off and the sun shines today, it may well be a battle between Bangladesh’s spin and West Indies’ power hitters, with the side that keeps it together better winning out in the end.