For teams like Bangladesh and West Indies, dead rubbers are no longer meaningless. The ODI Super League has made it certain that every game is now worth points, aimed towards direct World Cup qualification, or teams have to take the tortuous qualifiers route. Bangladesh cannot take the foot off the gas against a West Indies side that has hardly put forth a meaningful contest in the ODI series so far, particularly with bigger challenges lying ahead this year.
The home side has a number of options in their bench that they could test ahead of the more challenging white-ball assignments in New Zealand in March. Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam and allrounder Mohammad Saifuddin could get a run, since they are likely to be part of that squad as well, and are unlikely to play the Tests against West Indies next month.
Mohammad Mithun and Afif Hossain are capable options in the middle order, although that area is jam-packed in the current XI. Mahedi Hasan could be another interesting choice for quick runs lower down the order, or bowling in the powerplay. Taijul Islam is the other left-arm spinner in the squad, but he is slightly lower in the pecking order.
Tamim hinted that they could look at squad rotation after the second ODI while BCB president Nazmul Hassan believed it can be avoided so that they go into the game with their best possible side. It is a delicate balance but so far from what the visitors have displayed, it would be hard to fault Bangladesh if they are willing to experiment.
West Indies were bowled out for 148 in the last game, which was just 26 more than what they got in the first ODI. The top and middle order collapsed against Bangladesh’s accurate pace and spin combination. Against pace they have looked steady but as soon as spin has been introduced, they have looked all at sea.
Phil Simmons added opener Kjorn Ottley to the line-up in the second game, leaving out fast bowler Chemar Holder, but it still didn’t do the trick. The batsmen crumbled against no-frills spin bowling on a pitch that wasn’t exactly a minefield. Only Rovman Powell has looked like scoring runs freely, albeit later in the innings, but his position seems like a waste down the order. If West Indies are to usher in these newcomers with a little more confidence, some runs on the board would certainly be helpful before they walk to the crease.
The bowling has been somewhat impressive but that could also be due to Bangladesh’s own return to international cricket after ten months. Newcomer Akeal Hosein has looked confident in giving the ball a rip, but captain Jason Mohammed is stymied by lack of spin option, having to bowl himself a lot more.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
West Indies LLLLL
In the spotlight
There’s going to be more focus on Najmul Hossain Shanto after he got out for two low scores, particularly because some quarters believe Shakib Al Hasan should bat at No. 3, where Shanto is currently batting.
For West Indies to get a bigger score, perhaps the team management could give Rovman Powell a slight promotion in the batting order, so that he doesn’t get stuck again with their long tail. So far, Powell has looked like their most accomplished batsman.
Bangladesh have a large squad to choose from, but if the BCB president Nazmul Hassan’s words are anything to go by (and those are usually very important for the selectors and team management), Bangladesh wouldn’t like to tinker too much with their winning combination.
Bangladesh (possible) 1 Tamim Iqbal (capt), 2 Liton Das, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Soumya Sarkar, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Rubel Hossain, 10 Hasan Mahmud, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
West Indies have only Keon Harding and Jahmar Hamilton to try from their ODI squad, after Ottley became the seventh debutant of the series, in the last game.
West Indies (possible) 1 Kjorn Ottley, 2 Sunil Ambris, 3 Joshua Da Silva (wk), 4 Andre McCarthy, 5 Jason Mohammed (capt), 6 Kyle Mayers, 7 Rovman Powell, 8 Nkrumah Bonner, 9 Raymon Reifer, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Akeal Hosein
Pitch and conditions
The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium pitch is usually flat, and the evening dew makes batting under lights even easier. Eight out of the last ten teams batting second under lights have won matches at this ground. The weather is likely to be pleasant.
Stats and trivia
“We came here for 30 points but we still have chance to get ten points in this competition. We have got from 122 to 148, but we need to get into the 230-250, so that we can be competitive. Give the bowlers something to bowl at, and show mettle in that aspect. But definitely ten points would be the ultimate.”
West Indies coach Phil Simmons on what he is eyeing in the third ODI
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84