West Indies seek inspiration from India’s historic Gabba triumph

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By Akeem Greene

It’s a different format, different conditions, and vastly different quality in teams, but for interim West Indies One-Day International captain, Jason Mohammed, the biggest takeaway from India’s remarkable triumph against Australia on Tuesday will be one of self-belief.

A battered and bruised India defied the odds and registered their second successive Test series victory ‘Down Under’, this time against a full-strength Australian side.

It was the first time since 1988 that Australia suffered a Test loss at the Gabba.

The flip side was that throughout the series, and more so the Test at the Australian fortress, India fielded a side with little Test experience due to the absence of their first-choice players.

West Indies are in the same predicament since they too are without their first-choice squad for this tour, mainly because of players concerns over COVID-19.

West Indies have lost all five of the previous encounters with Bangladesh (Photo by Saeed KHAN/AFP)

The weakened squad took another blow when frontline spinner Hayden Walsh Jr. was ruled out of the three-match ODI series after a positive COVID-19 test.

All-rounder Romario Shepherd, who was initially selected, did not travel after he returned a positive result in Guyana.

West Indies might not be battered or bruised as yet, but they are certainly taking serious punches before the series commences Wednesday in Dhaka from 01:30h (Eastern Caribbean time).

“There will be a lot of guys making their debut, but once you have that belief within the team that you can do well and win games, these things are achievable and it showed in the India versus Australia series,” Mohammed in response to a question from News Room Sport at Tuesday’s Virtual presser.

“We obviously have the same mindset; we are just looking to play some good cricket starting tomorrow [Wednesday] and hopefully, the results can go on our side as well.”

The return of the dynamic all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will further boost the Tigers

In the 15-man squad, only six players have played an ODI before, and that has been reduced to five with Walsh Jr. being ruled out.

Mohammed indicated himself and the uncapped middle-order batsman Andre McCarthy will have to support the uncapped left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein due to Walsh’s absence.

The 34-year-old skipper is making a return to the team after two years, and has an uphill order in leading the inexperienced troops.

In the last 10 meetings with Bangladesh, West Indies have only won twice and lost the other eight. On the last tour, they lost 2-1, with a much stronger and experienced team.

Bangladesh have won their last five consecutive ODIs against West Indies, their third longest winning streak against a top side.

“Everyone has played a lot of First-Class cricket, but it is a big jump [to international cricket]. We have to try and encourage the guys as much as possible and I think the most important thing is the belief within everyone and the guys are up for it.”

He added, “As a coach and captain there’s not much you can do, you can help sharpen up some skills, but it is up to the individual in how they prepare and how they go in the games.”

Mohammed is hoping they can restrict the hosts to the average first innings total of 267, which has been the mean of the last five List A matches at the Shere Bangla National Stadium.

The last ODI played at the venue was December 2018, and West Indies successfully chased 256 in 49.4 overs, led by Shai Hope’s 146*.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s new ODI captain Tamim Iqbal will welcome the return of one of the world’s best all-rounders, Shakib Al Hasan.

Despite the consistent dominance against the West Indies in recent years, Iqbal did not write off the visitors’ chances in the series.

“West Indies are always competitive; sure they are missing some players but I am sure the new guys will be up for the challenge and you know in international cricket if you want to win the game, you have to work really hard and I am sure both teams will try to do it. It is just who starts well and finishes well will be the key.”

The second and third ODI will be contested on January 22 and 25.

Bangladesh ODI squad: Tamim Iqbal (capt), Shakib Al Hasan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Afif Hossain, Soumya Sarkar, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Mehidy Hassan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mahedi Hasan, Hasan Mahmud, Shoriful Islam.

West Indies ODI Squad: Jason Mohammed (Captain), Sunil Ambris (Vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Joshua Da Silva, Keon Harding, Jahmar Hamilton, Chemar Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Andre McCarthy, Kjorn Ottley, Rovman Powell, Raymon Reifer.

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