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What now for West Indies?

PROBLEMS: Windies skipper Jason Holder

BANGLADESH'S shock, but deserved victory by 7 wickets, has driven a nail through the heart – and out the other side – of West Indies’ prospects of attaining the semi-finals of this World Cup competition.

The presumed novices led by the superlative batting of Shakib Al Hasan (124 n.o.) and Liton Das (94 n.o. from 69 balls) have learned what is expected of this code of cricket quicker than have the supposed masters of the art who seem unable to learn from their mistakes. From here the action moves to Manchester, often a city which has been favoured for West Indies, where it is hoped that may be able to rally strongly enough to win all their next matches outright and, with a little bit of help from the weather impeding their rival, just maybe.

Where some of their renowned rivals had treated the West Indies fast bowlers with reference the Bangladesh batsmen did so with something approaching scorn.

Perhaps they were too flippant, for the next ball after cutting Andre Russell for six on reaching the half-century partnership Soumya Sarkar was caught by Chris Gayle at slip. Yet they still went for their shots flamboyantly as if they – not me – had a train to catch.

But it wasn’t a train which caused their haste, but the onset of rain. Not that it daunted them one bit – they just played through the shower. Although the Pakistanis had been near panic-stricken and the early Australian bats awestruck the Bangladeshis were buoyant. Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan sailed past the 100 runs mark with sun serenity that a wan sunt felt compelled to shine.

It needed more than a bowler to break their spell. Sheldon Cotterrell fielded smartly to his own bowling, picked up and threw out Tamim before he could regain his crease. Memories of Roger Harper at Lord’s all those years ago!

Taken with his superlative boundary catch against Australia at Nottingham, Cottrell has made quite a name for himself as a fieldsman. Fortune, indeed, favoured the brave. When Shakib Al Hasan sliced a towering potential catch over his head, the ball fell between wicketkeeper Hope running back and the fielder coming forward. Perhaps one of them should have shouted “Excuse me” and taken it.

Yet singles, and the wides, kept ticking up ominously – West Indies please note! Then the fours started to flow again. Shakib A Hasan, surely the batsman of the tournament, and L C maintained the pressure against bowlers who continued to bowl short, even though that bluff had been called and over-exposure to pace has now made the batsmen immune, until victory was attained.

Hope - Shai Hope that is – had sprung consistent, if not quite eternal, through the West Indies 321-8 runs innings. He batted steadily for his 96 with a more measured tread which allowed his more flamboyant colleagues to go for their runs. Criticism of his batting is misjudged.

It is better that somebody should stay around and add runs by being there rather than for everybody to fire on all cylinders and perish in the onslaught. The West Indies batsmen found some of their form against Bangladesh on the smaller ground at Taunton which is more suited to their style of play. More than that they did so in weather that was distinctively English and a Carnival crowd that was more in keeping with Dhaka or, at the least, Brick Lane.

This is Somerset – where the cider apples grow. The locals were prepared to put away their bottles of scrumpy for a moment to contemplate the early arrival at the crease of Chris Gayle, the latest in the line of big-hitters. For this is Taunton, one of the smallest grounds on the circuit and the home of big-hitting.

Viv Richards, Ian Botham and Arthur Wellard have all smote their mightiest smites here. The suspense did not last long. Gayle had not even opened his account when he was caught at the wicket off Mohammad Saifuddin.

Following a fast pace set by Evin Lewis (70), most of the batsmen had got started into their innings around Hope’s composed presence until with the end of the allotted overs approaching he, too, fell for the lure of the big hit and in trying to complete his century with a boundary was caught out in the deep.

The Bangladeshi media corps had descended on the press-box en masse and en fete. Can you blame them? It was their party. I looked around at my hundred or so colleagues and could recognise only myself and two others as being from the West Indian press. The few West Indians in the crowd were swamped by the cheering Bangladeshis. T

The malaise has set in when reporters, commentators and public cannot bother to lend their support.

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