Taunton: Short balls are coming and Bangladesh is ready.
The batsmen have been taking bouncers in the nets in expectation that West Indies tactics will not change when they meet in a Cricket World Cup group match on Monday at Taunton.
Short-pitched deliveries have delivered for West Indies: seven wickets against Pakistan, five against Australia, and against South Africa before the match was rained out.
“We back ourselves to get new ball wickets,” West Indies captain Jason Holder says. Asked if he regretted bowling short unsuccessfully in the loss to England last Friday, Holder says, “No regrets.”
Bangladesh is fully aware of the West Indies fast bowlers’ abilities, having faced them in four tests (split 2-2), and nine one-day internationals (Bangladesh leads 7-2) in the past year.
The pitch, conditions and strategy will be different at Taunton, but Steve Rhodes, coach of Bangladesh over the past year, is confident they can handle the West Indies bumpers.
“I’m very, very happy with the way we play the white ball, particularly when it’s short,” Rhodes says.
“We’ve played against the West Indies bowlers, recently. So we are well aware of what they have got and we know what’s coming and we’ve got some plans to try and deal with that.
“We’ve got some good players ourselves. We’ll be hopeful that they are going to worry about some of our players.”
Because of the washed out game against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh has had almost a week off, which has been enough time for all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan to get over straining his left thigh while scoring a century against England.
Meanwhile, the West Indies will persist with its own star all-rounder, Andre Russell, despite him limping off at the Rose Bowl against England after bowling only two overs. Russell’s creaky knees are struggling to allow him to complete games.
“We have been trying our best to keep him on the park, but it is proving difficult,” Holder says.
“We have to persist. He is here for a reason. He can be a match-winner for us. We have just got to cope with him. Got to do everything we possibly can with him to keep him on the park.”
The risk is worth it? “Yes.”
After four games each, they have one win each. It’s time to get moving if West Indies want to reach its first World Cup semi-finals in 23 years, and Bangladesh for the first time.
Holder says, “We have got to make sure we beat Bangladesh.”
Rhodes says, “All we can do is win our games coming up, one at a time. West Indies is next, and try and win that.”