Will unpredictable Bangladesh dazzle or disappoint?
It's been said before that Bangladesh are most dangerous in Twenty20. That in twenty minutes of violent batting or strangulating left-arm spin, they can turn a game on its head. It's a back-handed compliment actually that seeks to turn their flaws while playing Test cricket or 50-over cricket into strengths for Twenty20 format. However, after this summer of cricket where they weren't totally outplayed by India and England, their fans would be hoping for a good performance in the Caribbean.
The slow West Indies pitches, in theory, should suit them and this is where they were instrumental in knocking out India from the 2007 World Cup. More importantly, this is where they achieved their first overseas Test and ODI series wins against a Test-playing nation not that long ago. Tamim Iqbal, who has been in great form in the last one year though he is just back from an injury, would be their main hope with the bat and much will be expected from the usual suspects - Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Ashraful and Aftab Ahmed.
Overall, Bangladesh's statistics aren't impressive. They won three out of their first four Twenty20 games, which included a fabulous win against West Indies when Ashraful and Aftab unfurled sparkling knocks, but they have lost their last ten games.
Strengths and weaknesses
It's still their unpredictability that is their strength and weakness. On their day, they could play as awesomely as they did in the thrashing of India in the World Cup but can combust as spectacularly as well. In Tamim, they have as good an opener as any other side and in Shakib they have one of the better allrounders going around in the circuit but their seam department is a worry. Mashrafe Mortaza has been busy fighting injuries, Syed Rasel is steady and Rubel Hossain is not consistent yet.
Look no further than Tamim Iqbal. For long, Bangladesh have had many attacking batsmen but lacking in discipline, but Tamim has been rapidly maturing in the recent months and is blossoming into a fine world-class player. He has the shots and is now showcasing his strong temperament as well.
Shakib Al Hasan has already established himself as a world-class allrounder and it was he, more than Mortaza, who should have got into an IPL team. He is a fiercely ambitious man and one who has never shied away from facing the heat, be it on the field or out of it. He bowls like a miser and tries to bat like a millionaire.
Mahmudullah is another young player who is maturing quickly. He has converted himself from being a "hitter" who used to bat at No.8 in domestic cricket into a responsible lower middle-order batsman who bowls handy offspin. If Bangladesh top order combusts, it will be Mahmudullah that the management will look to get them to a decent score.
# For someone who has dazzled in Tests and one-dayers recently, Tamim is yet to prove himself in the Twenty20 format - he averages just 13.38 from 13 games
# Ashraful has just one fifty in 13 games but the stunning 27-ball 61 against West Indies is the knock with the highest strike-rate for any innings over 50 by an Bangladeshi batsman.