18 May 2004 15:29
UNCONVINCING WINDIES HAVE A CHANCE TO SILENCE THE SKEPTICS (3rd ODI Preview)
by Fazeer Mohammed
ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada - Victorious but less than convincing over the weekend in St Vincent, the West Indies have yet another opportunity to convince the skeptics that there is a vast difference in class between themselves and Bangladesh when the third and final match of the Cable and Wireless One-Day Series comes off, weather permitting, on Wednesday.
A one-wicket victory in the opening fixture on Saturday was greeted with a mixture of relief and embarrassment by the fans at Arnos Vale, and while the 23 run win in the second rain-affected encounter hinted at a greater gap in quality, almost every aspect of this series has underscored it as a meeting of two teams at the lower reaches of the international standings.
"We want to try and win the series convincingly," said Ramnaresh Sarwan yesterday. "We are trying to put everything in place to do that. We never expected it to get down to a situation like on Saturday, but at least we did the most important thing and win the game."
Sarwan remains at the helm in the continued absence of regular captain Brian Lara and is trying desperately to put a positive spin on a lacklustre duel of fallen giants and struggling minnows.
"There's no question we're disappointed with the way we played on Saturday, but we set ourselves certain standards and want to maintain or even improve on that," he stated, while also hinting at one or two changes in the final
eleven. "I think it's a great opportunity for some of the younger players to step up and get an opportunity to play."
Quite naturally, most attention here is focused on the son of the soil, Devon Smith, become the first Grenadian to play at senior level for the West Indies in his homeland. The attacking left-handed opener has been sidelined by a fractured thumb for almost two months, and after scoring a hundred in the First Test against England in Jamaica, is keen to get back in the fray.
"I'm hopeful that I'll get a chance to play tomorrow," said Smith following the team's shortened practice session on the eve of the match. "The injury is about 95 percent recovered. I scored a hundred in a club match and felt good, but that level cannot compare with the highest level of the game."
With Sylvester Joseph failing at number three in the first match and then dropped down the order amid the crash-bang of the 25-over slog on Sunday, Smith coming in at the expense of the unfortunate Antiguan may be the
automatic switch, particularly as Ricardo Powell has seemed uncomfortable at the top of the order with Chris Gayle.
BOWLERS PERFORMED CREDITABLY
All the West Indies bowlers have performed creditably so far, but there may be the temptation to rest either Fidel Edwards or Tino Best ahead of the Test series and give Ravi Rampaul another opportunity to show his worth.
Hugely disappointed at being unable to pull off a shock win at the start of the series, the Bangladeshis are hoping that the Queen's Park Stadium pitch plays similar to the one at Arnos Vale, where their combination of medium-pacers and spinners kept the Caribbean side in check in both matches.
However the glaring inadequacies of their batting remain the greatest concern and they will have to play way above themselves to change the modest expectations of the top order.
All speculation may be rendered academic however by the continued unsettled weather in Grenada. While the conditions are not as depressing as for the
abandoned one-dayer against England three weeks earlier, more showers are
forecast for Wednesday, which could result in another shortened fixture. Light rain at midday on Tuesday interrupted the West Indies practice session, and with grey clouds continuing to hover over the hills surrounding the ground, Grenadians starved of international cricket this year are praying that the elements are much kinder when it really matters on Wednesday.
West Indies (probable) - Ramnaresh Sarwan (captain), Chris Gayle, Devon Smith, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ricardo Powell, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, Ridley Jacobs, Ian Bradshaw, Tino Best, Fidel Edwards.
Bangladesh (probable) - Habibul Bashar (captain), Hannan Sarkar, Mohammad Ashraful, Rajin Saleh, Alok Kapali, Mushfiqur Rahman, Manjarul Islam Rana, Khalid Mashud, Khalid Mahmud, Mohammad Rafique, Tapash Baisya.