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West Indies Look To Maintain Momentum


A resurgent West Indies will be in a stronger opposition when they take on an ambitious Bangladesh in Friday's World Cup Group B match in Dhaka.

Faced with the loss of Dwayne Bravo, the twice champions have tweaked their original strategy, showing more trust in their spinners as well as entrusting senior players such as Chris Gayle with leadership in the batting.

This strategy paid dividends as West Indies crushed the Netherlands by 215 runs earlier in the week to give themselves just the kind of boost they needed in the tournament.

Bangladesh enters this contest with the added advantage of home support, and on the back of an impressive win over the Irish in Mirpur last week.

That's not to say that West Indies do not have the skill to overcome the opposition’s conditions. Chris Gayle's patient 80 against the Netherlands was an uncharacteristic mature performance from an explosive player.

Gayle's new-found sense of responsibility and Pollard's promotion have strengthened the West Indies batting order that seemed so fragile in their defeat by South Africa.

At number three, Darren Bravo has invoked comparisons with Brian Lara, while Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's experience should provide the Windies lineup with much needed depth.

While Kemar Roach's hat-trick has grabbed the majority of the headlines, the West Indies has shown a serious tactical flexibility when they opened the attack with left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, and played a second slow left armer in Nikita Miller.

Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mohammad Ashraful, 8 Naeem Islam, 9 Shafiul Islam, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Rubel Hossain.

West Indies (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Devon Smith, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Ramnaresh Sarwan, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Devon Thomas (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Sulieman Benn, 10 Nikita Miller, 11 Kemar Roach.

Keep an eye out for Bangladesh's captain, Shakib Al Hasan. The host captain is an aggressive cricketer and top grade left-arm spinner. He is capable of rattling through his overs almost before a batsman even has a chance to react, and no-one in the home team is more prepared to pressure a Windies team riding a wave of momentum.

For the West Indies look to a new and refreshingly mature Chris Gayle. As Virender Sehwag proved for India in the tournament opener, high run scoring is possible here if a batsman is willing to put his weight behind the ball. Gayle will tear this attack apart and if, as per the majority of the time, he is in the mood to wield the willow, a large total is on the cards.

According to the groundsman a spinner-friendly wicket is on the cards. The weather conditions are not an issue, so dew should be even less of a factor under the lights.

Like Zimbabwe, Bangladesh's fortune hinges on their spinners, who can be accurate enough to suffocate any batting line up. Abdur Razzak, Naeem Islam or Shakib Al Hasan may not be world recognised turners of the ball but their accuracy has been the key to their team's success.

Even though Bangladesh has come on in leaps and bounds over the years, even an out-of-form West Indies batting line up should be enough to bring this one home.

Interesting Statistic: Chris Gayle needs one run to reach 8000 in ODIs.




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