Kieron Pollard
West Indies' captain Kieron Pollard talks to teammate Chris Gayle during the Twenty20 World Cup cricket match against South Africa in Dubai, UAE, on October 26, 2021. Image Credit: AP

West Indies and Bangladesh arrive in Sharjah to resurrect their ICC Men’s T20 World Cup campaign. Having lost the first two matches, they must win the Group 1 game on Friday to harbour hopes of qualifying for the semifinals. These are early days; more upsets could affect the race for knockout spots.

Right now, captain Kieron Pollard needs a win to restore the West Indies’ image as defending champions. They have hardly played like champions; pathetic batting has been at the heart of underwhelming performances. A paltry 55 was all they could muster against England, and they fared marginally better in the game with the South Africans.

What ails Windies batting?

The fizz is lacking in the normally effervescent Caribbean batting. Look at the batters: Chris Gayle, Pollard, Andre Russell, and Dwayne Bravo. All power-hitters who make bowlers quiver in their boots. And T20 is their favourite playground. None of them has made an impression, and their lies the nub of the problem.

Maybe, they need a sheet anchor to allow the rest to express their shot-making skills. Jason Holder, who’s been added to the squad, can do that. So can Roston Chase, who can send down off-breaks too. That will be handy since the attack has been largely toothless, especially against the Proteas.

Pollard, Russell and Bravo can staunch the run-flow in the middle overs and the slog. But they need bowlers to take wickets in the powerplay. Ravi Rampaul hasn’t delivered, and only left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein looked incisive.

A rare moment of joy: Bangladesh players celebrate the dismissal of England's Jos Buttler during the Twenty20 World Cup cricket match in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on October 27, 2021. Image Credit: AP

Bangladesh too are in the same boat. They are called the Bangla Tigers, but their displays have been anything but tigrish. A lack of intent was evident in the games against Sri Lanka and England.

The powerplays have been their Achilles heel. Liton Das and Mohammad Naim need to show more urgency without being too cavalier. Loss of wickets in the first six overs has undermined the scoring in the middle-overs and piles pressure in the slog. The result has been below-par totals.

Without a decent score, there’s no pressure. Without pressure, bowlers wouldn’t be effective enough. And none of the bowlers, including Shakib Al Hasan, looked like wrecking the rivals.

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So the worry is on both fronts, batting and bowling. And fielding too. They spilled several catches to let the Sri Lankans off the hook.

When two teams are desperate to win, their clash should produce a stirring contest. There’s little to choose in terms of performances. But on the sheer strength of the team, the West Indies should win. Unless they capitulate to the Bangladeshi spin.