West Indies are facing an uphill battle to have a full-strength squad to face Bangladesh. Their side have already been let down by top players who have pulled out from the tour to Bangladesh. The Windies have been on a touring spree since cricketing activity resumed after Covid-19 pandemic. After touring England and New Zealand, the West Indies have set their foot on Bangladesh soil. A total of 9 uncapped players have been replaced in the 15-man ODI squad.
Phil Simmons, the head coach of the West Indies, strongly believes that this a fabulous opportunity for the team to come up trumps against a spirited side like Bangladesh. Simmons is hoping that the West Indies get the better of the Bangla tigers this time, as Bangladesh have defeated the West Indies twice in the last two bilateral series. Bangladesh are a strong force at home, they have won 8 out of the last 10 games played at home. Their squad is bolstered with the addition of Shakib Al Hasan, who returns after completing the ICC suspension levied on him. In addition to their star allrounder Hasan, Bangladesh also have their main core of Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mahmudullah.
Simmons wasted no time in admitting that home team Bangladesh are the clear favourites going into the ODI series. He went on to add that, “We can’t argue with the fact that Bangladesh are favourites. Sometimes experience plays a part but sometimes enthusiasm and hunger trumps experience. We do have a few experienced players. We left the Caribbean with the aim to win the ODI series. You might say that we don’t have our full team, but at the same time we have a team here which is hungry, wants to do well, and eager to play, fight and scrap in these conditions.
Simmons, at the same time he was happy for the young uncapped players who will be getting game time against a formidable side especially with the qualification for ODI World Cup Super League in 2023 . He stated, “ It is the tournament to qualify for the [2023 ODI] World Cup, so it’s a start. My rule and message to all the players here is that you are not here to fill in. You are here to give yourself a chance. You have a chance now to seal your place in the team,” he said. “If you do well here, it augurs well for you moving forward. You come here and do well in the three ODIs and two Tests, you are putting yourself in a place from where nobody can move you. Only you have the opportunity.”
The coach believes with a busy cricketing calendar in 2021, it is fantastic that they are getting a chance to test the bench strength of the nation. He went on to add, “When we went to England, we carried 25 players. We have seen couple of young players including the two that made their debut in New Zealand, come through from that. We have seen a few of the other young players that we know on this tour that we didn’t know before. This opens up the pool,” he said. “Some of the places are in the players’ hands. If they do well here, they can put themselves in line to play most of these series coming up.”
Simmons has pinned his hopes on players like Akeal Hosein and Hayden Walsh to come good in this tour. He reserved high praise for the duo whom he believed have had a fantastic CPL. Simmons expects Akeal Hosein to develop into a quality allrounder as he has the talent to work on. It will be interesting to see how a bunch of hungry, enthusiastic West Indian team fares against a well oiled home unit, Bangladesh.