West Indies eyeing rare ODI series win

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(Match starts at 2am on Friday December 14, 2018)

Both Test series between Bangladesh and West Indies this year panned out similarly, with the home team dominating. The ODI series, however, have been closer contests.

After Bangladesh won the first ODI convincingly in Dhaka, West Indies bounced back with a tight win to level the series.

The teams were in a similar situation in July this year, and it was Bangladesh who prevailed then, winning the final ODI to clinch the series 2-1.

While hopes of an encore are alive for the hosts, the visitors, buoyed by the series-leveling win, would for their part hope to keep the trend of the away team winning the ODIs going.

While West Indies were not entirely convincing in the second game, their first win on the tour sure was a much-needed boost. Shai Hope displayed guts to take them through in a difficult chase on a challenging pitch in Dhaka.

He found little support at the other end but the starts that Darren Bravo and Marlon Samuels got are little things the visitors can build on.

Like many of them, stand-in captain Rovman Powell too is due for runs, particularly quick ones, if West Indies are to impose themselves on the Bangladesh bowlers. Keemo Paul batted well in the first two games but his batting position suggests that his contributions are at this stage seen as a bonus. Overall, West Indies need all-round discipline in their bowling, and a bit more patience from their batsmen.

Bangladesh would be wary of slip-ups in the decider. Losing wickets in clusters after a big partnership has been a long-term problem, and both seniors and newcomers have been afflicted with it. It might be slightly easier for batsmen to get going from the start in Sylhet, but guarding against a collapse has to be quite high on their priority list.

Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan would all be disappointed with their fifties given how they were well set at the crease for bigger things. Mahmudullah would also not have been too pleased getting out in the 41st over, usually the time when he is at his destructive best.

But Bangladesh also have to look beyond these four and Mashrafe Mortaza when looking for performers. Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar are due for some runs, while Imrul Kayes may be fighting for his place in the side despite scoring 349 runs in Bangladesh’s previous ODI series, against Zimbabwe. If the trio can step up in this crunch game, it will ease the pressure off the big guns.

Shai Hope anchored the innings with a brilliant knock in the second ODI

In the spotlight

Analysts have already started to discuss Oshane Thomas‘ pace, which despite being wayward at times, has had somewhat of an impact on the Bangladesh batting. He has so far taken four wickets at an average of 22.00 in the series.

Mustafizur Rahman has the best economy rate, 5.30, among bowlers who have bowled in the last five overs of an ODI on at least ten occasions since his debut. Therefore, he should treat his 16-run penultimate over in the second ODI as a one-off.

Team news

As it usually does after one or two low scores, a question mark will hang over Imrul Kayes’ place in the top order with Mohammad Mithun a likely replacement; in that case, Soumya Sarkar will bat at No 3. Rubel Hossain may well have staved off the vultures too, after a decent showing in the second game.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Liton Das, 3 Imrul Kayes, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Soumya Sarkar, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

West Indies may not want to tinker with their winning combination, which means Chandrapaul Hemraj gets another go.

West Indies (probable): 1 Chandrapaul Hemraj, 2 Shai Hope (wk), 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Roston Chase, 7 Rovman Powell (capt), 8 Keemo Paul, 9 Devendra Bishoo, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Oshane Thomas

Pitch and conditions

Sylhet offers an altogether different pitch than Dhaka, with hope for truer bounce and a bit more pace on the ball. There’s usually dew around early evening. Weather is set to be clear.

Stats and trivia

Shimron Hetmyer has scored three ODI hundreds this year – joint fourth in the world, closely followed by Shai Hope who has scored two.

Mustafizur Rahman is Bangladesh’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs this year with 29 scalps at an average of 20.58. Mashrafe Mortaza has taken 24 wickets, while Rubel Hossain has 23. (ESPNCricinfo)

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