Mashrafe Mortaza's side head into Monday's match against West Indies at Taunton with respectable form but just three points in the bank
Mashrafe Mortaza’s side head into Monday’s match against West Indies at Taunton with respectable form behind them but just three points in the bank.
Bangladesh shocked many - and not some others - by opening their World Cup campaign with an impressive 21-run victory over South Africa at The Oval.
The Tigers pushed New Zealand all the way in a back-and-forth thriller at The Oval but ultimately fell short, before Eoin Morgan’s England proved too strong despite a Shakib Al Hasan century at Cardiff.
They haven’t played since that defeat, with their match-up against Sri Lanka at Bristol abandoned without a ball bowled. That, a match Mortaza & Co would have backed themselves to win, could be very costly.
Ad for their status in world cricket, Bangladesh have arrived. In truth they arrived a long while ago for those paying attention. But for all that, for all the impressive phases, for all the people proved wrong at this World Cup, it won’t matter if points and position are not earned from it.
The Tigers enter the contest with a couple of major injury concerns as well as scrutiny over the form of their skipper. Mortaza has taken one wicket and gone for more than seven an over so far, but Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes has backed his captain, saying: "I think Mash really is a warrior."
As for the treatment table, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan are both off full fitness. The former was hit on the hand by Mustafizur Rahman in the nets while Shakib has been nursing a thigh injury.
Mehedi Hasan, who has five tournament wickets, has been Bangladesh’s most-economical bowler so far. The spinner has a decent record against West Indies’ big guns too. He will be hoping to keep them in check in Somerset.
It’s a similar story for West Indies. Four games down, three points earned. After thrashing Pakistan by seven wickets in their opener, Jason Holder’s men couldn’t get over the line, falling to a narrow defeat against Australia at Trent Bridge.
Sheldon Cottrell had South Africa on the ropes at Southampton before rain washed the whole thing out. At the same venue, an eight-wicket humbling by the hosts followed and leaves West Indies in urgent need of a win to bump them back towards that top four.
Andre Russell is the primary fitness concern. The box-office allrounder is battling his body to get on the park. He showed on several occasions against England, that he is far from match fit.
Opener Evin Lewis has started his tournament poorly, with scores of 1 and 2 against Australia and England. Chris Gayle needs help at the top and Lewis is the man the Windies need to step up.
So then, two sides battling form, fitness, the weather and time running out. It could have the makings of a cracking contest.
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