Bangladesh v West Indies, 21 May 1999by John Polack
To be brutally honest, a battle between West Indies and Bangladesh does not really shape as being one of the better matches in this seventh World Cup. But when one thinks that each of these teams lost its first match and is therefore under significant pressure, especially from fans at home, to lift the standard of its play (and then combines it with the notion that the match is being played in a most unusual venue for cricket) then the contest certainly begins to assume more than just a little fascination.
For the West Indians, it is, in truth, quite an important fixture. They urgently need to make up for their disappointing loss to Pakistan in Bristol on Sunday and to overcome the patchy form which preceded that loss in their home series against Australia. More importantly, they need to find the right structure in their side; too many times in recent games, they have conservatively opted to select a long batting list and have consequently suffered badly when it has come time for them to relieve Ambrose, Walsh and Dillon at the bowling crease. If nothing else, what this match certainly affords them is an excellent opportunity to boost their sagging morale, to gain some confidence and to start putting some desperately needed points on the World Cup board.
It is likely that the men from Bangladesh won’t be expecting any miracles but it will probably be the case that they will likewise be looking for a big improvement on their performance in their last game. Nerves and a sense of stagefright always had the potential to ensure that they did not play at their best but, to be frank, their effort against New Zealand at Chelmsford last Monday was by no means an auspicious World Cup debut. Frightfully loose shots and indiscreet judgement dominated their innings and then their bowlers never looked like possessing the penetration to greatly upset the Kiwi batsmen.
So, as we sit back and watch as the people of Dublin crowd in to the tiny Clontarf ground, will it be a much-needed West Indian win, or a stunning upset like the one Kenya famously produced over the men from the Caribbean in 1996? One really can’t do anything but predict the former, but then cricket is a game of glorious uncertainty!
Why you should watch: The introduction of World Cup cricket to Ireland should, in itself, make this an entertaining spectacle. (This is, in fact, the first time that the country will ever have played host to a one-day international match.) The West Indian batsmen have not been at their best lately, and this game may also represent the catalyst for a revival in their fortunes. If that is the case, take the opportunity to marvel at some glorious attacking bravado.
Players to watch - West Indies: Curtly Ambrose. Whilst this giant fast bowler is sadly edging closer to retirement, the mere sight of him tormenting batsmen with his alarming pace and bounce always makes for pleasurable viewing. Against a Bangladeshi line-up lacking experience against bowlers of his immense stature, watch particularly for some destruction in his opening spell.
Bangladesh: Akram Khan. The powerful Khan showed signs of suffering from the big occasion at Chelmsford, but he is too promising a player not to showcase his immense batting talent at some stage of this tournament. This may be a game in which he does just that.
Neutrals may care to enjoy: The Bangladeshis’ desperate battle to try and get on top of what will almost certainly be a revved-up West Indian pace attack. If the magical Lara is on song, he might just produce yet another of his memorable individual exhibitions here too.