Simmons confirms WI to play two spinners; Permaul in reckoning


By Akeem Greene

Head Coach Phil Simmons has indicated that West Indies will play two spinners against Bangladesh in the first Test, which starts Tuesday (23:30h Eastern Caribbean time) at Chattogram.

The move is of little surprise given the conditions and the fact when they last toured in November 2018, three frontline spinners and two-seamers made the starting XI.

Judging from the success of the West Indies pace group in recent years, the temptation might have been to stick with such at the possible expense of playing a batsman short.

But, based on reports, the pitch conditions point to little assistance for the faster men.

In a Virtual press conference on Monday, Simmons stated: “The most important sign from the tour match is just the guys’ attitude in trying to put in place the things that we are working on and to spend time at the crease and develop their understanding of the wickets here…the spinners are always going to have an impact, whichever two of the three main spinners play, so it is something we are looking forward to see how much of impact [they make].”

In the previous two-Test tour, which West Indies lost, Bangladeshi spinners took all 40 wickets, while the West Indies spinners took 21 of the 30 wickets (Bangladesh only batted thrice) and Jomel Warrican, who is expected to challenge Veersammy Permaul for second spinners role, had eight scalps – the most by a West Indies bowler.

In the Three-Day practice match against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI, Rahkeem Cornwall bowled 16.4 overs and took 5-47, Warrican had 3-25 in seven overs, and Permaul, who only bowled in the second innings, was wicket-less in his 11 overs, which went for 21 runs.

Phil Simmons keeps an eye on a West Indies training session (Raton Gomes/BCB)

Simmons, in response to a question from News Room Sport, indicated that Guyanese Permaul, who was the leading spinner last Four-Day season, is still in the reckoning for selection in the first Test.

“Everybody who is here is close [to playing] so I won’t say one is closer than the other. I think he has bowled well since he has been here. He works hard as does everyone in the squad, but he does work hard and he is up for selection. Everyone is fit and raring to go, so maybe tomorrow evening we will decide on what the final XI is.”

Off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz and left-arm spinners, Taijul Islam and Shakib Al Hasan, all of whom are in this current Bangladesh squad, took a combined 34 wickets in the last series.

During the recently concluded ODI series, which West Indies lost 3-0, 13 of the Caribbean side’s wickets went to spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Mehidy Hasan, who averaged a mere 10.07 and conceded just 2.72 per over through the series.

Simmons had called on the Caribbean batsmen to “play spin better”, and indicated Monday they have been looking to employ different tactics.

“We have been working predominately on playing spin, using your feet, the crease or sweeping, whichever one suits the particular batsman the best. So we have just been pushing them harder to work on all of the disciplines of playing spin.”

West Indies are in search of their first away series win since they defeated Zimbabwe in October 2018. Both West Indies and Bangladesh are at the bottom of the ICC Test Championship table, a reflection as well in the Test rankings in eight and ninth respectively.

Unlike the visitors, who are on their third Test series during the pandemic, this will be Bangladesh first and the coach felt while the hosts remain favourites, if West Indies can strike in the early sessions, they can pose a challenge.

“I think the little vulnerability could be early in the Test because as mentioned before, they have not played any International Test cricket for a year now and getting back into it might be a little of vulnerability early-on, but I am sure that will be taken care of because they have a fairly experienced team…so it might not last long but if it [vulnerability] does happen, we have to take the opportunity and seize it.”

West Indies, who are without several of the senior players due to concerns over COVID-19, have not won a Test series in Bangladesh since November 2012.

Bangladesh squad: Mominul Haque (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Yasir Ali, Saif Hassan, Mustafizur Rahman, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Shadman Islam, Nayeem Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Abu Jayed, Ebadat Hossain, Hasan Mahmud.

West Indies Test Squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (captain), Jermaine Blackwood (vice-captain), Nkrumah Bonner, John Campbell, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Kavem Hodge, Alzarri Joseph, Kyle Mayers, Shayne Moseley, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, Raymon Reifer, Jomel Warrican.

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