When Bangladesh national cricket team will take on West Indies on Wednesday in the first match of a three-match ODI series, it will be the Tigers’ first international fixture in 10 months. In comparison, the West Indies have played plenty of cricket in 2020 after the Covid-19 breakout including tours of England and New Zealand.
With this series, the two teams also commence their journey in the ICC World Cup Super League – a series of competitions that will determine The top eight teams of this competition will enjoy a direct entry to the World Cup 2023 in India.
In this series, Bangladesh will have a new-look batting order as Najmul Hossain Shanto will play at No. 3 and Soumya Sarkar will have to adjust at the lower order, maybe at No. 7.
At the same time, the Tigers are expected to have a new look pace-bowling attack as well. With the omission of the former captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, the team management will have a chance to test the bowlers like Hasan Mahmud and Shoriful Islam, who earned their maiden call ups to Bangladesh’s ODI set-up.
While Hasan has already played a T20I for the Tigers, Shoriful is a fresh face who just shone for the Junior Tigers playing a pivotal role during Bangladesh’s ICC U-19 World Cup-winning campaign in South Africa in early 2020.
In Tuesday’s last practice session before the series starts, Taskin Ahmed, Hasan and Shoriful were the most hard-working pacers in the nets. At least two of the 3 might be included in the playing XI along with the main pacer Mustafizur Rahman.
This series will also be marked as Shakib Al Hasan’s comeback series after serving a year-long ban imposed by the ICC for failing to report corrupt approaches made to him by the bookies.
Shakib played his last international game back in 2019 against Afghanistan at home. Since then, he was out of all cricketing activities until made a comeback to competitive cricket with the Bangabandhu T20 Cup which took place late last year. But he failed to impress either with the ball or bat. He played nine games in the event and scored 110 runs and took six wickets.
In his comeback match after serving the ban, Shakib will be batting at No. 4 as the head coach of Bangladesh, Russell Domingo and captain, Tamim Iqbal, revealed recently. Shakib was Bangladesh’s most successful No. 3 in recent times, notably during the 2019 World Cup. So moving to a lower position will surely pose a new challenge for him. But the head coach and captain believe this will give the premium allrounder some extra breathing space.
While Bangladesh are busy finalizing their playing XI, West Indies are looking forward to a fresh start as they are missing at least 13 members of their regular set-up. Most of them said no to this series citing their concern over the Covid-19 situation in Bangladesh.
“It is (playing well) something that we will look at. It depends on how you play on the day. Obviously, a lot of the guys will be making their debut. Once you have the belief within yourself and within the team that you can win games, these things are achievable. It showed in the India-Australia Tests. We have the same mindset of playing some good cricket starting tomorrow, and hopefully results can go on our side as well,” Jason Mohammad, the West Indies stand-in captain for ODIs, told the media in the pre-series media interaction.
Jason also expressed their concern over facing Shakib in the ODI series. He addressed Shakib as “one of the best” going around in the world now.
In contrast, Bangladesh’s captain Tamim Iqbal said that they are looking forward to their own game rather than thinking much about the opponents. He said: “We are focusing on our own game. We have to keep our process right. At the international level, every team is a strong team and they will surely play hard to win the games.”
The teams have faced off each other in 38 ODIs, and Bangladesh came up victorious in 15 occasions with losing 21 instances. 17 of those 38 matches were played in Bangladesh, and the hosts won six of them with losing 10, and the other match ended up with no-result.
The match will start at 11:30am, and T-Sports and Nagorik TV will broadcast it live along with BTV.
Six-time champions Dhaka Abahani Ltd maintained all-win run in the 13-team Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football beating all-losers Brothers Union Club by 2-0 goals in their second match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday.
By virtue of the day's victory, Abahani took a joint lead in the league table with Bashundhara Kings collecting full six points from two games.
Also read: BPL Football: Kings beat Police 2-1
Dhaka Abahani, which managed 1-0 victory over Bangladesh Police in the first match on Tuesday dominated the first half by 2-0 goals.
Brazilian striker Francisco Torres put Abahani ahead in the 34th minute from a penalty (1-0) while Haitian forward Kervens Belfort confirmed Abahani victory scoring one more goal in the 41st minute by an angular ground shot from danger zone (2-0).
Dhaka Abahani, which is struggling with only one trophy out of five in the last three seasons after emergence of Bashundhara Kings, put up a relatively better performance compared to the previous match.
Sheikh Russel KC will play Rahmatgonj MFS in Wednesday's lone match at 4pm at the same venue.
Bangladesh cricket team, along with the touring West Indies, are all set to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
In the first ODI of three-match between Bangladesh and West Indies, both the teams will perform a special act for the cause.
Nizamuddin Chowdhury, chief executive officer of BCB, confirmed the development but declined to disclose what the special acts will be.
“You have seen the West Indies team. They played a few matches during the Covid-19 outbreak and they showed some special activities to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We also planned to do something for this. You’ll come to know before the match what we’ve planned,” he told the media.
Three women started the Black Lives Matter movement in the US in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot dead unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. Protests erupted again last year after the killing of George Floyd, who died in May after a police officer knelt on his neck during his arrest in Minneapolis.
During West Indies’ England tour in June-July last year, they kneeled down to show solidarity with the movement. Hosts England also joined the cause.
Bangladesh will take on the West Indies in three ODIs with the first match taking place on January 20 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium while the second match will also be played at the same venue on January 22.
The third and final ODI of the series will be played in Chattogram on January 25. After this series, both the teams will lock horns in a two-match Test series.
Federation Cup champion Bashundhara Kings earned their second consecutive victory in the 13-team Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football beating Bangladesh Police FC by 2-1 goals at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Tuesday.
With the day's feat, star studded Kings dominated the league table securing full six points from two matches while Police are yet to earn any point after playing two matches.
Also Read: BPL: Mohammedan turn on the style in flying start
Brazilian forward Robson Robinho scored both the goals for Kings in the 16th and stoppage time of the first half (45+1) while Ivorian defender Lancine Toure netted the lone goal for the Police FC.
Robinho put the Kings ahead in the 16th minute of the match by a close range shot (1-0) while L Toure leveled the margin for Police in the 42nd minute from a goal mouth melee header (1-1).
Also Read: BPL Football: Dhaka Abahani manage 1-0 win over Police
But his joy was very short lived, as Robinho again rescued the Kings scoring his and the team's second goal just four minutes later with an angular shot from top of the box (2-1).
Police fought bravely with their mighty opponents till the final whistle in the day's match.
After waiting for over nine months, the game of cricket is all set to make a return to Bangladesh as the hosts are going to take on the touring West Indies on January 20 in the first encounter of three-match ODI series at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium.
Also read: Mehidy eyes to regain old form against WI
With this game, the Bangabandhu Bangladesh vs West Cricket Series will take the field. The next match of ODI series will take place on January 22 at the same venue while the final and third ODI will be played in Chattogram on January 25.
Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh’s new ODI captain, during the pre-series media interaction, said he is looking forward to establishing a Bangladeshi brand of cricket, and the West Indies series is his first assignment.
“What I always prioritize is to establish its own brand of cricket for Bangladesh. I always say that every cricket-playing country has its own style to play the game of cricket. So, I don’t think we should follow others. We may not be as strong as West Indies or we may not be well-built like Australia, but we still have some advantages which are missing by the other teams,” Tamim told the media.
Aiming to establish Bangladesh’s brand of cricket, Tamim is going to make some adjustments in ODI batting line-up as he is backing the decision to send Soumya Sarkar at the lower order and moving Shakib Al Hasan to No. 4 from his preferred position of No. 3.
“We’ve informed Soumya about his new role before the BCB President’s Cup. We told him that he would need to bat at a certain position and advised to prepare accordingly. So it’s not a surprise to anyone except some of you (media). Along with the batsman, we all know it long before,” he explained Soumya’s new role.
While explaining Shakib’s new challenge, Bangladesh captain said: “The message was very distinct to Shakib. I’ve also talked to him personally, and he said he has no problem to accept it. He understood it. And it (batting at No. 4) will give him breathing space because he is going to make a comeback after a long time. We all know how good he was at No. 4. His record is enough to back this claim. We are well-informed about it. He is happy to bat at No. 4. I have also told him to talk to me if he wants his previous batting position back, and he is okay with the decision.”
Shakib was Bangladesh’s No. 3 during the last ICC ODI World Cup in England where the southpaw accumulated 606 runs in five fifties and two centuries with the best figures of hitting 124*. Overall, he batted at No. 3 in 23 games and scored 1177 at an average of 58.85 with two centuries. It was known that Shakib had pushed the team management during the World Cup to allow hit to bat at No. 3.
Previously, Tamim led the Tigers in three ODIs in Sri Lanka, but he failed to shine as a captain as Bangladesh endured 3-0 to the Lankan Lions. During the last few years, Tamim led different teams in the domestic circuit.
“I captained in two domestic events right before playing the same role at the international circuit, which came as a big advantage for me. It was unfortunate that we’ve missed some international fixtures due to the Covid-19 breakout throughout the world. The two domestic events were very tough for me, but I’ve learnt a lot. I think people understand what they do by the time going, and I’ll also go through the same. And at the same time, you’ve to understand what the situation you’re facing off. I think you’ve to think differently sometimes,” he added.
Bangladesh will have to make this series a success in order to set themselves in a good position on the point table of the ICC ODI League so that they can end up as one of the best eight teams to ensure a direct World Cup entry in 2023, which might pose an extra pressure for the hosts in this ODI series.
Also read: WI emphasise spin bowling to check Tigers
“You always have to face pressure to win the games. We’ll play a maximum of 27-28 ODIs before the World Cup 2023. Every single game is important for us as long as we want to gather adequate points to ensure direct qualification for the World Cup. Every match is important for us so that we ended up as one of the best eight teams in the ongoing ICC ODI League,” Tamim told the media.
After the three-match ODI series, both the teams will lock horns in a two-match Test series starting from February 3 in Chattogram. The second Test and the final match of the series will take place in Dhaka from February 11.