After their recent ODI series win in a foreign soil after nine years, rejuvenated Tigers will take on T20 champions West Indies in the first of three match T20 series at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts. The match is scheduled to start at 6:30 am today.
Bangladesh certainly are underdogs against the T20 world champions West Indies. When it comes to T20I’s Bangladesh are miles behind other test playing nations. They rank tenth in the ICC T20 rankings, recent whitewash in the hands of Afghanistan shows yet again that Tigers need to improve vastly in this format of the game. However, if the Tigers approach all the games with correct mindset and approach they certainly can beat the Windies. Dashing opener Tamim Iqbal needs to take his splendid form in 50-over format to T20’s. He scored two match winning centuries in the just concluded ODI series and was named player of the series. Tamim needs to fire on all cylinders as his batting is pivotal to give a blazing start for his team. He is likely to partner with Soumya Sarkar, who is out of form for a long time. He needs to rectify his mistakes and get his form back before falling down the pecking order.
Bangladesh have plenty of other batting experience in their ranks. Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah were among the runs in the ODI series. But that only underscores Bangladesh’s overdependence on the senior pros, especially given Sabbir Rahman and Mosaddek Hossain’s parched run in the ODIs. Everyone should contribute to overcome Windies. Liton Das, who sat out the ODIs, is likely to get some game-time, alongside Ariful Haque, who is also part of the T20I squad.
In bowling, it will be interesting to see how the Tigers will get on without leader Mashrafe. Absence of 38-year old hard hitter Chris Gayle, who was rested, will be big plus for the bowlers. Mustafizur Rahman will once again lead the bowling attack, with Rubel Hossain, Abu Hider and Abu Jayed for company in the pace department. Mehidy Hassan Miraz, who has been in good form, and left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam, considered a T20 specialist, could both be in contention for a place in the XI.

“T20 is West Indies’ most favoured format. T20s are our most difficult format. But I feel if we play to the best of our ability, it is possible to win the series,” said skipper Shakib Al Hasan

West Indies have plenty of firepower to call upon. Despite the absence of Chris Gayle, West Indies have Evin Lewis and Andre Fletcher in the top order, alongside Marlon Samuels, Carlos Brathwaite, an in-form Rovman Powell, and the returning Andre Russell, to bat through the 20 overs.

The bowling attack, comprising Samuel Badree, Sheldon Cottrell, Ashley Nurse, Keemo Paul and the team would be further bolstered with the availability of Russell and Brathwaite.

West Indies have a good record against Bangladesh in T20 cricket, West Indies have won three and Bangladesh 2 out of six matches they have played against each other, while one game ended-up without any result. Tigers have only once won a three-match T20I series, beating Ireland in 2012. It is now time for Tigers to forget all the previous stats and look for glory in the T20 format.

Talha Kamal