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Bangladesh in for battle

Bangladesh in for battle

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by Earl W. Robinson

This weekend International Cricket returns to the Arnos Vale Playing Field. Bangladesh, the minnows of Test cricket, will square-off against the West Indies tomorrow and Sunday, in back-to-back limited overs matches.{{more}}
Since their inaugural match in the Asia Cup Tournament against Pakistan on March 31, 1986, this Asian team has contested 85 Limited Overs International (LOI) matches. So far, they have lost 79 and won four. The other two have been abandoned as no result. Both were against the West Indies. Three of their four victories were achieved before they acquired Test status. The four wins have been against Kenya in 1998, Scotland and Pakistan in 1999 (World Cup matches) and Zimbabwe in March of this year at the Harare Sports Club. That is their only success since becoming a Test nation.
Habibul Bashar, who has been appointed captain on this tour, led the Bangladeshis on that occasion. Leading by example with the bat, he top-scored with 61 out of a total of 238 for 7 in the allotted 50 overs. Rajin Saleh (57) and Mohammad Ashraful (51 not out), who received the Man-of-the-Match award, made useful contributions.
In reply, Zimbabwe reached 230 for 9 when their allotment of 50 overs was completed; this Bangladesh won by eight runs.
Included in the squad to appear on the weekend are Hannan Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahman and Tareq Aziz. These three players are not strangers to the Arnos Vale Playing Field. All were in the Bangladesh “A” line-up that defeated the Windward Islands by eight runs in the 2002 Busta Cup Match.
In my opinion, the most promising and accomplished batsmen for the tourists are the 19-year- old Ashraful and 20-year- old Alok Kapali. Both are right-handed.
It will be fitting if both players could spend some time at the crease and provide some entertainment with their stroke-play. A worthwhile contest against the West Indies bowlers is necessary. Patrons and viewers want a good contest. Now, what about the West Indies? On this ground, they have a phenomenal record. From 1981 to 2003 they have lost, only one of the 13 matches. Losing to Pakistan in 1993 is the only blemish in the record books.
Their 165-runs victory over England in 1994 set the trail for their 11 consecutive victories. England (3), Australia and New Zealand (2), India, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka (1) have been the teams to have suffered in the past ten years.
The inconsistent performance of this present team has left a lot to be desired. So far in 2004, West Indies played 10 marches: five each against South Africa and England. Half of those ended in defeat for Brian Lara’s men; of the remaining matches, they won three and the other two e were no results.
Every time fans think this team has turned the corner, the players remind them that they are now approaching the bend.
On January 25 this year against South Africa at Cape Town, they were bowled out for 54 in 23.2 overs. Their lowest limited overs team total.
In the recently concluded series against England, in particular in St. Lucia, they left fans with the belief that they knew how to deliver a knock-out punch. Totals of 284-5 and 282-6 enabled them to win by five wickets and four wickets respectively. The victories allowed them to take a two-to-one lead. However, by the time they reached Barbados, it was back to square one. The fortunes of this team fluctuate like share prices on the stock exchange markets. In spite of their inconsistent performance, it is refreshing to see youngsters like Dwayne Bravo, Dwayne Smith and Ravi Rampaul making a name for themselves. Should these players continue to perform consistently well the West Indies should be able to make it pass the preliminary round of the Cricket World Cup in 2007.
This they failed to do in 1999 and 2003. Note, during the last two World Cup tournaments, the major host went packing early. England in 1999 and South Africa in 2003.
Looking ahead, the West Indies will be hosting four top teams prior to that tournament in 2007. South Africa and Pakistan should be in the region next year, while India will travel to these shores in 2006. Just before the major extravaganza, defending champions, Australia, will make their visit.
With so much talk in the air about the 2007 World Cup Tournament, Vincentians are eager to know how many of the 51 matches will be staged at the Arnos Vale Playing Field.
My major concern is: what future is there for the Ground D after 2007 if a Test is not played there in 2005 or 2006? It means ten years will pass with just a solitary Test at the venue. Will the Arnos Vale Playing Field be a one-Test wonder? Can we afford to spend so much money without having major matches there?
At this time of writing, I have no knowledge of the West Indies squad for the weekend. Against such a weak opposition I would expect that players like Dinesh Ramdin, Tishan Maraj and Jason Bennett are given the opportunities to showcase their abilities at the international level. Ramdin and Maraj showed good skills at the last Under-19 World Cup tournament in Bangladesh. These are the players the selectors should be moulding for 2007. Mervyn Dillon and Ridley Jacobs should be rested for this one-day series.
Rally around the West Indies but remember to love cricket. Weather permitting, the West Indies should take an unassailable lead in the series at the end of Sunday’s match. Next Wednesday it should be 3-nil when the Grenada match is completed.
Finally, I must extend congratulations to Maintain Muralitharan, the Sri Lankan off-spinner, for becoming the highest wicket-taker in Tests. Just over a week ago, he surpassed Courtney Walsh’s record of 519 wickets.
Murali took eight of those wickets here at Arnos Vale in 1997, when history was made.
His haul of 8 for 141 was the best in the match.
His final wicket in that match was Walsh’s. Walsh made a duck that carried his tally to 25, thus surpassing Danny Morrison’s (New Zealand) record of 24. At the end of his career Walsh had carried his figure to 43. This world record is still intact.
Just remember, records are there to be made and to be broken.
Cricket fans, have a lovely weekend!

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