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The Electronic Telegraph Bangladesh v West Indies, Group B
Martin Johnson - 21 May 1999

West Indies keep heat turned down

West Indies (183-3) bt Bangladesh (182) by 7 wkts

The so-called carnival of cricket has yet to strike a chord with Bangladesh, who have been here since April 15 and are in danger of going home with nothing more to show for it than chilblains and webbed feet.

Neither have the West Indians been exhibiting too much World Cup joie de vivre, although yesterday's weather would have made Dublin's trawlermen think twice about putting to sea.

The West Indies won comfortably enough, with 3.3 overs to spare, but did little to repair their reputation as a side who struggle to rise to the small occasion. There was that famous loss to Kenya in the last World Cup, and they have been reminiscing in Dublin all week about the day, in 1969, when Ireland bowled them out for 25. ``In fairness,'' said one of the Clontarf Cricket Club members, ``25 all out was not a fair reflection. Bejaysus, we had them 12 for nine at one stage.''

Early-morning rain delayed the start by 45 minutes, and if a biting northeasterly did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the 3,500 spectators, it was pretty unkind of the locals to consign the Bangladeshi radio commentators to an outside bench. An estimated 30 million listeners back home must have thought there was a pneumatic drill going in the background, although it was merely the sound of chattering teeth.

However, the fact that spectators in the more elevated seats required ice picks to get there did not prevent the absurd business of two drinks breaks per innings - presumably to ensure that one of the World Cup sponsors, Pepsi Cola, received their contracted amount of TV exposure. Irish coffee would have been more appropriate in conditions alien to both sides, although with 10,000 Bangladeshi restaurants in England alone, the World Cup tiddlers will at least have felt at home over the dinner table.

If the temperature made it forgiveable for the West Indian fielders to put their hands in their pockets, there was less excuse for keeping them there when the ball came their way. They dropped two routine catches and, at a conservative estimate, gave away 20 runs in the field. Unless they can locate some adrenalin for their next game against New Zealand on Monday, the West Indies will be thawing out back in the Caribbean sooner than they would like.

With Malcolm Marshall having been admitted to hospital for an exploratory operation, the West Indies have been forced to employ an emergency coach - and in the light of the 25 wides they sent down yesterday it was a surprise to discover that Clive Lloyd, the manager, has temporarily taken over, rather than Devon Malcolm.

Henderson Bryan, Curtly Ambrose's replacement, looked at times as though he would struggle to hit the sightscreen never mind a set of stumps, and with five no-balls to add to the West Indies' palsied fielding, it enabled Bangladesh to cobble together a semi-respectable 182 from 49.2 overs.

Twenty-two yards of black pudding would have produced more pace than this pitch, and Bangladesh at one stage looked as though they might bat through 50 overs without reaching three figures. They were, however, revived by a fifth-wicket partnership of 85 between Mehrab Hossain and Naimur Rahman, and were even setting their sights on something above 200 until Courtney Walsh (seven overs for 11 with the new ball) returned for his second spell.

Mehrab is Bangladesh's only century-maker in their 28 one-day internationals, and once he found a partner to stay with him, he unveiled an impressive array of shots. The opener batted for all but the final seven overs of the innings for his 64 - Bangladesh's first World Cup half-century.

Bangladesh's big game in this World Cup, for which optimistic punters can now get better odds than their initial quote of 1,000-1, is against Scotland, but cricket is so popular in Bangladesh that crowds of 50,000 are not uncommon for club matches. They now need full Test status to realise a potential demonstrated when their under-19s beat the West Indies and England during the last Youth World Cup.

Their bowling attack yesterday was too lightweight to cause the West Indies any serious problems, although they did have one minor triumph in dismissing Brian Lara for only 25. This may well have left their hosts (in keeping with Irish tradition, they took the entire Bangladeshi squad out for dinner last night) regaling them over the aloo gobi with tales of how they had once dismissed an entire West Indian team for 25.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk