Mercury set to rise with first T20I in Sylhet
12:00 AM, December 17, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:40 AM, December 17, 2018

Mercury set to rise with first T20I in Sylhet

One of the taglines in the advertisement campaign for a series between Bangladesh and West Indies would very likely have been 'anything's possible' because they are two of the more mercurial teams in world cricket. But by the time Bangladesh won the ODI series following a thumping victory in the Tests, that unpredictability gave way to a kind of certainty that Bangladesh will finish on top as West Indies were completely outclassed.

However, it is likely to return in full force when the first T20I at the Sylhet International Stadium gets underway at 12:30pm today. Interestingly, the starting time was rescheduled thrice due to technical errors with one of the floodlight towers.

West Indies are reigning world champions in the format and for the first time on tour could be said to be on equal terms with the hosts, or even favourites, although Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes would not go so far as to say that. Bangladesh, meanwhile, do not have as good a resume in the format as they do in ODIs. They will however draw a lot of confidence not just from their recent dominance but also from the fact that one of their best results was a 2-1 win against the very same opponents away from home in St. Kitts and Florida in August this year.

It will be the hottest time of the day in an otherwise chilly Sylhet, and the heat will also be on Bangladesh because of the big-hitters West Indies possess in the likes of Evin Lewis -- who has two T20I hundreds -- and skipper Carlos Brathwaite, who famously won the 2016 World Twenty20 by hitting the first four balls of the last over bowled by England's Ben Stokes for six.

Bangladesh have a 4-4 head-to-head record against the world champions and both sides will believe that they can win the series. Bangladesh had a minor scare yesterday as skipper Shakib Al Hasan had to leave practice when he was hit on the toe by a Mohammad Saifuddin yorker, but Rhodes later said that Shakib was fine and that he would be very surprised if there were any issues today.

Six of the top seven -- Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib and Mahmudullah Riyad -- are virtually set in stone. It remains to be seen whether Mohammad Mithun will get a game as the seventh batsman or whether one or both all-rounders Ariful Haque and Saifuddin gets the nod. Mustafizur Rahman and Mehedi Hasan Miraz are certainties in the bowling department, with the last slot expected to be contested between pacer Abu Hider and left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam.

Today's match at 12:30pm.

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