Windies keen for turnaround as they take on Bangladesh

Imagine the India of late 1980s and 90s and its love for the game of cricket that almost bordered on the obsession. Now, multiply that by 10 times and you would get a clear picture of Bangladesh’s craze for the game.

There is no doubt that cricket still remains the most popular sport in India by a great distance but the emotions are tempered now, in victory as indeed in defeat. Bangladesh is going through a similar phase that India was experiencing not more than a decade ago.

The Sher-e-Bangla National stadium on Tuesday will bear testimony to that when the hosts take on West Indies in a Group 2 match of the World T20.

Irrespective of the way the result goes, the emotions are going to be extreme. The 25,000-plus capacity crowd and millions others in front of their TV sets won’t settle for anything less than a victory against an opposition they had some success in the past. A win for the home team is sure to lift the mood of the entire nation while a pall of gloom will envelop in case of a setback. And we are only talking of a best case scenario because the memories of the stone-throwing incident after Bangladesh’s defeat to West Indies in a World Cup match in 2011 here are still fresh.

“Yes, 2011 memories are there, but we have played them (West Indies) in two more series after that and even won a few games,” said Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim on Monday. “Those (winning) memories are there too. We must focus on playing well.

They also didn’t have a good game last night (against India). They will be under pressure too as it’s a must-win match for them. If we apply ourselves well, we can win.”

The home team, which suffered an unexpected reversal at the hands of Hong Kong in the qualifier, would have taken note of West Indies’ difficulties in handling India’s spinners and with their own set of slower bowlers in Abdur Razzaq, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah, Bangladesh would hope to tie down the big-hitting Caribbean batsmen in familiar conditions.    
    
West Indies know another defeat will seriously hamper their progress. With due credit to Indian bowlers, it must be said that West Indies batsmen were way too diffident in their approach, playing out as many 66 dot balls. T20 is as much about hitting sixes and boundaries as it’s about rotating strike. Windies coach Ottis Gibson, however, backed his batsmen. 

“We are blessed to have players who can hit the ball into the stands. I’m sure most people would want to hit the ball for a six rather than attempt a quick single and pull a hamstring. The Indian bowlers bowled well last night. When you look back on the game against India, most of our best players, Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels, Narine, Dwayne Bravo, Sammy, they all play a lot of IPL cricket and I think the Indians know them quite well. A lot of the plans they had for them last night seem to come out of IPL. Bangladesh will be a different opposition. We know that we have to win from here if we have to remain in the competition and that’s all we are focusing tomorrow.”

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