Five years after a thrilling finish between West Indies and Pakistan elicited this response from Fazeer Mohammed at Windsor Park, we are back here once again. The T20I series opener between West Indies and Bangladesh will be the first match at the venue in five years and first since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
The lack of recent competitive cricket at the venue means that the pitch is an unknown quantity as West Indies and Bangladesh build towards the T20 World Cup, which begins in October in Australia. West Indies last played T20I cricket in February and Bangladesh in March. The hosts have made a number of changes in a bid to figure out their best XI. Bangladesh, meanwhile, lack confidence in this format. The 2-0 defeat in the preceding Test series only adds to their troubles.
Bangladesh’s ordinary ground fielding and catching also came under scrutiny in the Test series. Mahmudullah will now have to drag Bangladesh out of the mire, with the likes of Afif Hossain, Munim Shahriar and Mustafizur Rahman among the white-ball specialists.
Anamul Haque, Mosaddek Hossain, Nurul Hasan and Mehidy Hasan Miraz are also back in the T20I squad. Shahriar is a newcomer, having made his debut against Afghanistan on the back of a sparkling BPL season.
West Indies’ new-look squad will be led by Nicholas Pooran whose recent white-ball form isn’t encouraging. Pooran and new vice-captain Rovman Powell will have to lead the middle order in the absence of the now-retired Kieron Pollard.
Among the batting options are Shamarh Brooks, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers and Devon Thomas, while Odean Smith is an allrounder in the mould of Andre Russell.
Obed McCoy, Alzarri Joseph and Keemo Paul are among the bowlers making comebacks. Left-arm spinner Gudakesh Motie is the third spinner in the squad behind Akeal Hosein and Hayden Walsh Jr.
(Last five completed matches; most recent first)
West Indies: LLLWL
In the spotlight
Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman are Bangladesh’s strike bowlers in T20 cricket, but Nasum Ahmed is not too far behind. In the past 12 months, he has taken 35 wickets at an average of 17.45 and economy rate of 6.07. Nasum is known for varying his pace effectively, having done it at home against Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan recently. If Windsor Park does help the spinners, Bangladesh will be confident of Shakib, Nasum, Mahedi Hasan and Mehidy Hasan Miraz countering West Indies.
After his Player-of-the-Series performance in the Test series, all eyes will be on Kyle Mayers. The 29-year-old struck his second Test century, helping West Indies out of a tight spot in St Lucia, and can also contribute with the ball. He will open the batting in a line-up with seemingly less experience now, so Mayers must understand his role clearly. That he has the wood over Bangladesh might make things easier for him.
West Indies have six spots open since their last T20I against India in February. Brooks, King and Thomas are likely to find themselves in the top six, while Odean Smith will likely have a crack at the lower-middle order.
Windsor Park, which hosted two T20Is eight years ago, is a ground known for favouring spinners. There’s a slight chance of rain around the start time (1.30pm).
Stats and trivia
West Indies have a 7-5 win-loss record in 13 T20I matches against Bangladesh.
When Bangladesh toured the West Indies and USA in 2018, they won the T20I series 2-1.
Shakib Al Hasan is 92 runs short of becoming the second Bangladeshi to reach 2,000 T20I runs, behind Mahmudullah.
Nicholas Pooran is the only batter in West Indies’ squad to have more than 1,000 T20I runs. Brandon King’s 412 is the second highest.
“Munim [Shahriar] is a newcomer in the team while [Anamul Haque] Bijoy is back after a long time. I have to assure [them] they get enough opportunities, so that they can play their own game. I hope they will do well.” Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah is willing to give his players a chance to perform
“Bangladesh is a good white-ball team. They are fighters. They always play well against us. I am expecting them to come hard at us. I expect them to bounce back.” West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran isn’t taking anything for granted
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84