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In the bag

West Indies players (from left) Devon Thomas, Darren Bravo, Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine doing stretching exercises this morning.

KHULNA – Tonight begins West Indies’ quest to whitewash Bangladesh in the five-match One-Day International series.

And as captain Darren Sammy stressed last night such a score-line will help the West Indies team to improve its One-Day rankings. But as is his wont, he has stressed to his side that beating the home side will not be easy.

“5-0 gives us five ranking points. 4-1 gives us one and 3-2 might lose us ranking points. I will let the guys know of this but first we will look to win the series. If we play to our potential, it [5-0] is possible. We will take one thing at a time now,” he said.

After the Dhaka Test, Sammy had said that they were able to push for a win because they took the Bangladesh challenge seriously. The situation got a little out of control in the second Test when Bangladesh put up a decent first innings total, thanks to No. 10 Abul Hasan’s debut hundred, and the 184-run tenth wicket partnership shared with Mahmudullah. West Indies rode out that challenge again, and dominated the rest of the game to win the series 2-0.

“Bangladesh keep coming back when you think they’re down. In the last Test, the No. 8 and No. 10 put on a partnership in the first innings,” he said. “We are not taking them for granted. But once we play to our full potential, we could be a very destructive force,” he said.

West Indies switched into the one-day mode with a massive win in the warm-up game against BCB XI on Wednesday. The highlight of that game, which could also be a forewarning for Bangladesh, was West Indies’ total of 361 under the new fielding restrictions. Chris Gayle, who didn’t play in that game, was the only batsman without a big score in the Tests but Sammy believes it is a matter of time before he fires with the bat.

“Our batsmen took responsibility to score the bulk of the runs in the Test series. We have at least six guys coming in for the ODI series. They all had a go, and they scored a lot of runs in the practice match, so it is tough to select the team with such bench strength.

“Chris [Gayle] turns up anytime. He is the best batsman in limited-overs cricket right now. He’s the most dangerous in any format. I am not worried about him. He has his routine, and has scored all over the world. Good for us if he’s due some runs, not for Bangladesh.”

Sammy’s captaincy and patience will be tested under the new rules of having just the four fielders outside the 30-yard circle for 35 overs during the match. He said that the umpires have assured of helping out the captains during this series if an extra man is stationed outside the circle by mistake, though he has already devised a plan to remember the new rule.

“I will just remember to keep mid-off or mid-on up. I have studied it quite well and I think I have trained my brain to keep monitoring. We have enough senior players in the team to help me along, and the umpires said they’ll look out for the odd fielder outside.”

Sammy said that the new rule is going to put pressure on the fielding teams, especially on the spinners. However, he said that it also presents an opportunity to cut the singles down.

“Teams were scoring 300-plus with five guys outside the circle. Now it is only four. I feel sorry for the spinners, they have to find an extra way to bowl and be economical. We have to find one person in the ring which could put more pressure on the batsmen, and no easy singles to get.”

Bangladesh will enter the match without their most valuable player in Shakib al Hasan, out for the first two matches with an injury. In his absence, greater responsibility rests on the shoulders of the explosive batting talent that is Tamim Iqbal and all-rounders Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain. The latter had an excellent Test series with the bat and his star continues to rise rapidly.

It is likely West Indies will enter the match with only one front-line fast bowler in either Ravi Rampaul or Kemar Roach and depend on Sunil Narine and a combination of their medium-paced all-rounders to complete their bowling attack.

The forecast is for excellent weather and the wicket at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium is expected to be a batsman’s paradise. The match starts at 11 p.m.

West Indies (possible): Chris Gayle, Kieran Powell, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith, Marlon Samuels, Kieron Pollard, Andre Russell, Devon Thomas (wk), Darren Sammy, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul.

Bangladesh (possible): Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque, Jahurul Islam, Naeem Islam, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), Nasir Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza, Sohag Gazi, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain.

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