Walsh-inspired Bangladesh bowlers put heat on Windies

Thursday, June 20, 2019

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TAUNTON, England — West Indies entered their Cricket World Cup match against Bangladesh on Monday with plenty of talk centred on their fast bowlers and how they were going to attack the Bangladesh batsmen.

But in fact, it was the Bangladeshis, guided by their bowling coach and West Indies great former fast bowler Courtney Walsh, who caused a stir. Bowling first in the encounter, they delivered on testing lines while varying their lengths to keep the batsmen guessing.

It was the kind of display that their much vaunted counterparts failed to replicate, instead sending down a plethora of misdirected short balls and numerous innocuous, fuller deliveries.

“I think the new-ball bowlers bowled brilliantly today. We didn't give them any easy balls to hit. It's been key to our success, especially in our bowling department,” star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan told journalists during the post-game press conference.

The West Indies score at the end of the opening 10-over powerplay was a disappointing 32-1, the lowest of the tournament. Over the same period Bangladesh raced to 75-1.

And they never looked back.

The sensational Shakib and pugnacious Liton Das drove, cut, pulled, hooked, and swatted them to all parts leaving a stunned West Indies set-up searching for answers to what went wrong.

For the Caribbean men, watching Bangladesh blitz their way to 322-3 with 51 balls to spare must have been a bitter pill to swallow.

Shakib hit 124 not out for his second century of the tournament, while Liton struck an unbeaten 94.

The West Indies bowling just wasn't up to scratch, rendering 321-8 inadequate on a good batting pitch surrounded by relatively small boundaries.

On the other hand, the Bangladesh seam bowlers — none capable of express pace — deserve praise for their exploits, particularly in the early part of the West Indies innings.

The role of Walsh, who took a three-year deal with the Bangladesh team back in 2016, cannot be overlooked.

The 56-year-old Jamaican is the highest Test wicket taker from the West Indies, accounting for 519 dismissals from 132 matches in the longest format. In 205 One Day Internationals (ODIs) he captured 227 wickets.

The experience and expertise have been passed on to his bowlers, and they executed almost to perfection on Monday.

Mohammad Saifuddin was particularly good up front, and nabbed star batsman Christopher Gayle for a 13-ball duck with one that kissed the bat edge through to the wicketkeeper. He ended with 3-72 from 10 overs.

Left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman was just as instrumental, claiming the day's best figures of 3-59 from 10 overs.

Captain Mashrafe Mortaza went wicketless for 37 runs from eight overs, but his economy rate of 4.62 was by far the best by any bowler in a high-scoring contest that saw everyone else conceding six runs or more per over.

“We know if everyone does their job, especially in bowling, and the fielders back it up well, we'll have a decent ODI bowling attack. We might not have the pace like England or Australia, but all the bowlers, they have the skill,” Shakib stressed.

Bangladesh are scheduled to face Australia at Trent Bridge today, while the West Indies next game is set for Old Trafford on Saturday against New Zealand.

- Sanjay Myers

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