The West Indies have Marlon Samuels to thanks for getting the side over the line in a tight finish and keeping this series against Bangladesh alive (4th ODI: 8.30am GMT, Friday).
Samuels’ 126 in the third ODI on Wednesday secured the Windies first win of the one day leg of the tour and as the two teams prepare for this match, the Bangladesh lead now stands at 2-1 with two games to play.
Samuels’ incredible match-winning effort underlined how much strength there is in this West Indian line up. It also highlighted just how much the batsmen have been underachieving as a unit. The tourists’ bowlers finally found some form in the third game and restricted the hosts to a sub-par 227 all out from 49.1 overs.
The problems remain in the batting department however and Samuels aside, there was little support as the visitors stumbled to their target. Chris Gayle in particular has been a big disappointment but like many of his team mates, you wouldn’t bet against the Jamaican left hander to rediscover his best form and take Friday’s match away from the opponents.
Bangladesh’s bowlers battled bravely as they tried to keep Darren Sammy’s side beneath that 227 target but their own innings highlighted how brittle their batting can be. For a few years now, the Bangladeshis have relied heavily on runs from Tamim Iqbal and Shakib al Hasan and when those two batters fail, the team can collapse under the pressure.
In this series, Tamim has been in reasonable form but Shakib is missing altogether as he nurses a shin injury. Meanwhile, there have been some outstanding individual performances – Anamul Haque made a patient century in the second game in Khulna – but there needs to be some consistency if the hosts are to win the fourth match and clinch the series.
At least the Bangladeshi side has a longer tail these days and that was in evidence on Wednesday when the bulk of the team’s runs were scored by Mahmudullah at number seven and Sohag Gazi at number nine. There are more fighting qualities about this team and whatever happens, Bangladesh offer far better value than those odds of 5/2 suggest.
Bowling may be the issue for the rest of this series however and although the wickets have been shared around, Bangladesh need a bowler who can strike at the top of the order while keeping the runs down in the way that Sunil Narine does for the West Indies.
Narine will have a key role to play on Friday and the mystery spinner hit his best form in Dhaka with impressive figures of 4/37. Bangladesh’s batsmen will have to work out a way to play Narine effectively now that he is back to his best.
Overall, the West Indian side hold the key to this fourth ODI and this match should see some star batsmen return to form. A powerful display from Chris Gayle alone should be enough to clinch this match and set up a thrilling climax to the series on Saturday.