By Ravendra Madholall
West Indies should start with the psychological advantage against Bangladesh as the pair of test matches begins on Thursday at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua and Barbuda.
History reveals that West Indies won their last test series outing against England, 1-0 in their three-match rubber while Bangladesh went down to Sri Lanka, 0-1.
In addition to that, the hosts are marginally higher than Bangladesh with respect to the International Cricket Council’s MRF Rankings. West Indies sitting at number 8 while Bangladesh occupying the number 9 spot.
West Indies also showed prowess in every department when they stunned the English lads with their comprehensive ten-wicket victory last March in Grenada, much to the elation of their loyal fans.
In favour of West Indies they have statistically played an unprecedented 563 test matches beginning way back in 1928 while Bangladesh inaugurated their test status in 2000.
A fleeting look at the composition of the Caribbean squad reflects that the team is a mixture of youths and seniors and that should be enough to test the visitors on a track that is known to be responsive and later down deceptive.
Batting will centre on obdurate opener and skipper Kraigg Braithwaite while vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood is another batsman with experience and is doing duty in the middle.
Brathwaite’s opener John Campbell might have felt lucky to be given another chance since Guyana Harpy Eagles’ opener and the consistent batsman Tagenarine Chanderpaul was deep in contention for a debut.
Chanderpaul scored heavily in the recently concluded Cricket West Indies regional four-day tournament and had some ardent supporters calling for his inclusion for the opening showdown.
However, apart from those three frontline batsmen, Nkruma Bonner and Kyle Mayers have been steady scorers and are likely to bring stability in the middle. Wicketkeeper/batsman Joshua DaSilva has displayed great competence both in-front and behind the stumps and his responsible role against England catapulted him to be a more reliable batsman now.
Versatile all-rounder Raymond Reifer is a capable batsman and his recent performances while executing his trade with the bat, they can count on him to add something substantial.
His left-arm seam bowling could be an asset in this version of the game and the variation is useful at this Stadium.
His fellow Barbadian and ace fast-bowler Kemar Roach will ask to take up the responsibility while inexperienced Jayden Seales, Alzarri Joseph and rookie Anderson Phillip are increasingly becoming matured.
Gudakesh Motie was selected based on his outstanding performances over the years in representation for Guyana. The left-arm orthodox spinner got the nod ahead of his compatriot Veerasammy Permaul and Barbadian Jomel Warrican both of whom were regular members and first choice spinners with identical action. If selected in the playing X1, Motie could add variety against this Bangladesh inform batsmen.
The second test is slated for St. Lucia.