Saturday, February 24, 2018

Ready to win

Windies start Test series vs Bangladesh


Warming up: West Indies fast bowler Tino Best lets fly during a practice session in Dhaka, Bangladesh, yesterday. West Indies and Bangladesh will play two Tests, starting today. —Photo: AP

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Darren Sammy said West Indies were ready to chase more success when they face hosts Bangladesh in the first Test, which opens on Tuesday at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium here.

West Indies are looking up and have been moving towards a goal - a rise up the Test rankings, though this series will not take them past Sri Lanka, even if the latter concede their series to New Zealand. What West Indies can do is move further ahead of New Zealand and Bangladesh and, more importantly, take their cricket to a higher plane, a level they have been seeking for the past 15 years. Captain Darren Sammy wouldn't want a slip-up against a team they have beaten in all but one series, the one where none of their top players turned up.

As ammunition, he has Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine and Fidel Edwards, while for the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Darren Bravo and newcomer Veerasammy Permaul there is much to play for. It is now a team that has more and more places that are being contested, a phenomenon which is an important aspect of an improving cricket team, coupled with the stability which West Indies have began to develop in some areas of their Test team.

Bangladesh are seeking both competition for places and stability but as of now, only some places in the middle order are held firm and the spot for the second spinner is up for grabs. The national selectors had to call up a 22-man preliminary squad a week before the first Test only because they didn't have enough opportunities to see how some of these players have been performing. The washout of the three-day practice match was as much a blow to West Indies as it was to some of the batsmen who could have furthered their cases. It will be those who were there last year who get preference.

Captain Mushfiqur Rahim will need Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan at their best from Tuesday if his team has to have any chance of taking the game to the opposition. Bangladesh will, realistically, want to push the game to the fifth day but for that to happen, much will depend on how they handle the first session, with bat or in the field.

West Indies captain Sammy said though his side was disappointed that the only practice match scheduled ahead of the Test had to be scrapped, the players had used the time wisely, working on specific areas of their game.

"The same thing happened to us a few years ago in Sri Lanka," he said. "We still had some specific work which we were doing and this time it is no different.

"The batsmen look in good form and the bowlers look ready to go, so yes, we are disappointed we did not get into the middle and play – but we are still confident that we can get the ball rolling in this series."

Sammy said West Indies respected the home team, but his side was well aware that they would be tested by opponents that relish playing on home soil.

"People will expect us to beat them," he said. ". . .We are not going to take them lightly. We will give them the respect they are due like we do with any other opponent.

"But we are confident that we can go out there and play a brand of cricket that will give us a series victory."

He said: "Complacency is something about which we have spoken. We left the Caribbean as World Twenty20 champions, but this is a different format. Winning the WT20 gave the players a lot more confidence, but we are quite aware that we have to guard against complacency.

"We must remember that cricket is played in the middle. Once we can execute our team plans and we get the performances from different players, we are confident we can win the series here."

Reports indicate that the pitch has played quite lively in two domestic first-class matches this season.

Sammy said he however, expected it to be typical of what had been produced in previous matches, but felt his side was well equipped to handle whatever surface was prepared.

"It looks like a pitch on which you will have to be patient in the batting and the bowling, so it will be about consistency in the execution of the plans you put in place," he said.

"We are tempted to play two spinners, particularly Veerasammy Permaul, since he was part of the Sagicor WIHPC team that last month played here.

"He has done really well here, so he makes a strong case for a place in the side, but the selectors will have to decide what they feel is the best combination for us to win the Test."


West Indies from: Darren Sammy (Captain) Chris Gayle, Kieran Powell, Darren Bravo, Assad Fudadin, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Kirk Edwards, Denesh Ramdin, Sunil Narine, Fidel Edwards, Veerasammy Permaul, Tino Best, Fidel Edwards

Bangladesh (possible): Mushfiqur Rahim (captain) Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique, Shahriar Nafees, Naeem Islam, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Nasir Hossain, Elias Sunny, Shahadat Hossain, Rubel Hossain