By the time Bangladesh started their practice at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton, West Indies’ batting had been dismantled by England in Southampton. Bangladesh are set to face West Indies in their fifth World Cup match on June 17 in Taunton, but unlike their opponents, will have had six days’ gap between matches since their last World Cup game against Sri Lanka in Bristol was abandoned due to rain.
As the Tigers practised for the first time since the washed-out game against Sri Lanka on June 11, the focus had already shifted to their next match, namely the small size of the Taunton ground and what it would mean for the bowlers pitted against West Indies power-hitters like opener Chris Gayle and all-rounder Andre Russell.
“We are looking at their game now. We are coming up with some ideas and plans. They are two dangerous players we have to try to restrict, and get them out at the same time to have more control of the game,” said Bangladesh bowling coach Courtney Walsh yesterday. “We will be focused on their team itself, because they have very good players in their team. I am sure we can perform as a team against West Indies.”
That confidence comes from Bangladesh having beaten the West Indies home and away in ODI series in 2018, and also in three matches in Ireland on way to lifting their maiden ODI multi-team trophy less than a month ago. While Gayle and Russell were not a part of the tournament in Ireland, they were part of the team that lost 2-1 against Bangladesh in West Indies last summer.
“It [beating them in the West Indies] is a big plus for us. But it is a different tournament. We have to do it all over again,” Walsh said.
With it raining for much of the last week in Taunton -- relenting only to allow the game between Pakistan and Australia on June 12 -- the pitch is a bit of a mystery and Walsh said that whether or not they change their playing eleven would depend on the nature of the wicket. At the end of three matches, each of Bangladesh’s pacers in skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman and Mohammad Saifuddin have conceded runs at more than seven an over. That has drawn cries to include benched pacer Rubel Hossain in the team.
“He had a very good season last year. He is bowling pretty well this year too, but because of the formation of the team, he hasn’t been able to get in,” Walsh said. “Still a couple of more games left in the tournament, so whenever the selectors are ready for him I just hope he is also ready.”
Walsh also admitted that Taunton, with one of the shorter square boundaries in England, may prompt a rethink of their bowling strategies.
“Because of the size of this ground, we might have to re-think some of our attacks, plans and strategies. It is a much smaller ground, so we have to ensure we are more spot-on and consistent, and try to create the pressure.”
Against England, West Indies lost wickets at the top and that hampered their chances of posting a formidable score. Walsh said that they would learn from the strategies England used, one of which may be to use Mustafizur Rahman -- normally seen as an old-ball bowler and one who has bowled just five overs in the first 10 overs of three matches so far -- with the new ball.
“It depends on the opposition with the new ball. We have tried him. If he gets into his rhythm pretty early, he can get us early wickets. It depends on the surface too but it is not something we have ruled out. It gives us a bit of edge if he can get the bounce with the new ball, left-arm over and around the wicket. There’s every possibility he could do it here.”