West Indies proved yesterday just why they are a feared side in T20I cricket. They are not the best T20I side in the world by any means, as their ranking of seventh shows, but on their day the World Twenty20 champions are unstoppable.
Yesterday at the Sylhet International Stadium was one such day and what came through both in left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell's four wickets for 28 runs and Shai Hope's 16-ball 50 was the clarity of thought and the unadulterated aggression they employ in the narrow scope of the game's shortest format.
The game was played on a fast wicket that suited their fast bowlers and hard-hitting batsmen, but it is instructive that player-of-the-match Cottrell implied that he barely noticed the wicket.
"I won't say happy," he replied when asked whether they were happier with this kind of wicket after they lost the Test and ODI series on slow and low surfaces. "I don't know if it was slow or fast or bouncy or whatever. We just played cricket on the day. We decided to just come out and play hard cricket. Whatever we do we do it hard. That's just it."
They first bowled out Bangladesh for 129 in 19 overs, and Cottrell did the initial damage by getting rid of Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar, both of whom fell trying to flat-bat short deliveries straight over the infield. Much like his answer to the question about the pitch, Cottrell said that there was no definite plan to target Bangladesh batsmen with short deliveries, but just to go out there with an aggressive mindset.
"Our plan in this game was to just bowl aggressive in whatever we do, whether bowling yorkers, length balls, short balls. Just to bowl aggressive, and it paid off."
Hope had played innings of very different character in the ODIs, during which he hit two back-to-back unbeaten tons, but Cottrell was not surprised.
"It wasn't surprising at all. He has been in form for a while now; he's currently eighth in the ODI rankings as a batsman. I mean once you are in form as a batsman you have to cash in, and he showed a perfect example of that."
West Indies are at the end of a journey across the subcontinent, playing a full tour of India before coming to Bangladesh. When asked how the result in the previous series in Bangladesh and the one yesterday were so different, the Jamaican cast his eyes homeward.
“As I said it's a different format and most of the guys are looking forward to going home," Cottrell said with a smile. "It's closer to home and so we play our best cricket now. We just came together, it was just cricket on the day for me."