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1st Test – West Indies v Bangladesh, St Vincent – Preview

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Last Updated on 10 years by Charbel Coorey

Mushfiqur Rahim and Denesh Ramdin pose with the trophy.

With all the ODI cricket going on in England & Zimbabwe, Test cricket between the West Indies and Bangladesh begins in St Vincent. Both sides have quite a bit to prove here, with the West Indies looking to recover after losing their last Test series at home to New Zealand and Bangladesh looking to build on their solid Test form over the last few years. However, despite Bangladesh’s decent Test form, 2014 has been a terrible year and the selectors look as if they are losing the plot. The West Indies also have had their own challenges to deal with ahead of this series, with Sunil Narine & Andre Russell choosing to play in the Champions League T20 instead of this Test series. Nonetheless, they look comfortable favourites here.

Both the West Indies and Bangladesh have played just the one Test series each thus far in 2014, with both sides losing at home. Bangladesh lost 1-0 to Sri Lanka in January-February but did very well to bounce back with a draw after losing by an innings and 248 runs in the first Test of that series. West Indies lost 2-1 to New Zealand, failing to extract revenge for their heavy 2-0 away defeat to the same opponents in the West Indian winter. Therefore, both sides will have motivation to do well here. For the West Indies, they’ll want to improve their home form in Test cricket – they’ve won only two of their last eight home Test series (against New Zealand in 2012 and Zimbabwe in 2013), which is a poor record for any top flight Test team. For Bangladesh, they’ll want to build on some good Test cricket they’ve played since the West Indies toured Bangladesh in late 2012. Despite the Windies winning that series 2-0, Bangladesh spurned a great chance to win the first Test of that series, getting bowled out for 167 chasing 245 on the final day. Since that series, Bangladesh drew a Test in Sri Lanka, won a Test in Zimbabwe, held New Zealand to a 0-0 draw in their two Tests against them at home, and picked up a draw in their last Test match against the Sri Lankans. In fact, they’ve won one, drawn three, and lost just once in their last five Tests, a solid record for a team that has struggled in Tests since their arrival in 2000.

However, despite these positives for Bangladesh, they are in a mess. As a massive follower and fan of the team, 2014 has been a difficult year, as the team has wasted many winning positions in the limited overs formats. Losses to Afghanistan and Hong Kong this year have made things worse but they have a chance to put that behind them with a good showing in this Test series. However, I don’t think this will happen for a couple of reasons.

Mominul Haque celebrates his 2nd Test hundred v NZ, 2013

The first is that the selectors seemed to have lost the plot. The fact that I’m hearing rumours that Mominul Haque might be left out of the side is just terrible. His record in Tests stands at 755 runs at an average of 75.50. How can you even think of dropping a player who has shown great potential so far? How can you think of dropping a player from the Test side because a few low scores in ODIs? It is ridiculous and if Mominul is not picked here, then the selectors should have a long look at themselves because they would be doing a terrible job. Also, the way Robiul Islam has been treated since his heroics in Zimbabwe last year has been pretty disappointing. He was unbelievable in Zimbabwe, swinging the ball late and bowling deliveries that even top batsmen would have struggled with. Since that series (where he won man of the series), he was picked to play whilst injured against New Zealand last year (then dropped) and then was dropped after the first Test against Sri Lanka this year when the plan was for him to bowl short. When a bowler can move the ball, why get him to bowl short on slow Bangladeshi tracks when his top speed is barely 130km/h? He’s a good prospect, he must play over Rubel Hossain who averages over 81 with the ball after 19 Tests. I can also go on about doubts over Shamsur Rahman’s place in the side and why someone like Marshall Ayub isn’t on tour but you and I haven’t got all day.

The second reason is Bangladesh’s mindset. Sure, the realistic goal for them with an inexperienced bowling attack would be to draw the two matches in the series. However, Bangladesh must play the game with intent. They must try to take wickets when they bowl and play with discipline when they bat. You should never enter any match without intent to try and put the opposition under pressure. If you play well for the first few days and a draw is a possibility, it is then you work hard to try pick up the draw. Say Bangladesh bowl first and play for a draw from Day 1, the West Indian batsmen can break all sorts of records as their opponents will only try to keep the runs down which doesn’t work at Test level. Sure, Bangladesh’s bowling stocks seem very weak without Shakib Al Hasan and Sohag Gazi, but you need to give yourself the best chance of competing. Spreading the field out and having no catchers in place won’t help you to compete. Showing intent is especially important as there is a chance that Jason Holder might bat at number 7, meaning that the West Indies might play with quite a long tail. Playing defensively, especially with the ball and in the field, won’t help Bangladesh’s cause at all. They must search for wickets with the ball.

For the West Indies, they have fewer concerns. Fresh off a 3-0 clean sweep of their opponents in the ODIs, they’ll be looking forward to a good outing in the Tests. Their bowling attack looks pretty decent despite the absence of Sunil Narine and their batsmen, who will be led by Shivnarine Chanderpaul, fresh off a big score of 183 for St Kitts against the Bangladeshis, will look to cash in against an inexperienced Bangladesh attack. As a Bangladesh fan, the signs don’t look good for my team and I back the West Indies to prove my fears right.

Batsmen to watch:
For the West Indies, Denesh Ramdin tortured the Bangladeshis in the ODI series, snatching victory away from them in the 1st ODI then thumping 169 in the 3rd ODI to help complete the clean sweep. As captain of the Test side, he’ll want to continue his good form with the bat and get off to a winning start in this series.
For Bangladesh, Mominul Haque must play. If he does, I’m interested to see how he will go in the West Indies. While he batted beautifully at home against New Zealand and Sri Lanka (scored 3 centuries in 4 Tests), he batted on pretty flat surfaces. He’ll be challenged more here especially with the opposition more aware of his strengths and weaknesses. How he plays the short ball is key but he has the talent to make a good score or two. I think common sense will prevail and he will play.

Bowlers to watch:
For the West Indies, Jason Holder is touted as a bowler with immense potential. He’s tall and can cause problems for the Bangladeshis with extra bounce. A good performance here will certainly increase his confidence for the future.
For Bangladesh, their bowling stocks are looking extremely thin. It is difficult to see how they are going to pick up regular wickets (especially with their mindset) but Al Amin Hossain can be one who nips out a few for Bangladesh. He was super in the ODIs and despite his high Test bowling average, he hasn’t had much luck at all with plenty of chances missed off his bowling in his Test appearances.

West Indies likely team: 1. Chris Gayle, 2. Kraigg Brathwaite, 3. Jermaine Blackwood, 4. Darren Bravo, 5. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6. Denesh Ramdin (wk & C), 7. Jason Holder, 8. Kemar Roach, 9. Shane Shillingford, 10. Suliemann Benn, 11. Jerome Taylor

The Bangladesh team that I think is best given their squad: 1. Tamim Iqbal, 2. Shamsur Rahman, 3. Imrul Kayes, 4. Mominul Haque, 5. Mushfiqur Rahim, 6. Nasir Hossain, 7. Mahmuduallah, 8. Shuvagoto Hom, 9. Taijul Islam, 10. Robiul Islam, 11. Al Amin Hossain

Prediction: I expect Bangladesh to have a few good moments in the game but if they are to genuinely compete, I think they need to bat first and get runs on the board if they are to put the West Indies under any sort of pressure. As a massive fan, I really hope they do that because I love seeing them do well, especially in Tests. However, because of Bangladesh’s lack of confidence, the absence of star allrounder Shakib Al Hasan, selector confusion and thin bowling stocks, I expect the West Indies to grab a win on either the 4th or 5th day of the match and take a 1-0 lead in the two match series.

Charbel Coorey
Charbel Cooreyhttps://cricblog.net
Charbel is the owner & founder of cricblog.net, based in Sydney, Australia. He started the website to fulfill his love for the game of cricket. Charbel has also been featured on other publications including OP India, Times of India, and The Roar, among others. For any story tips or questions, you can contact Charbel at charbelcoorey@cricblog.net.

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