By Shashank Kishore in Sylhet
The Bangladesh Women team will have boisterous home support, but Merissa Aguilleira’s side is riding high after defeating England
Bangladesh went down to Pakistan and South Africa in its warm-up games. Prior to that, it lost 3-0 against India on turning tracks at Cox's Bazar. How the side copes with the pressure when the spotlight is on will be a test of not just ability, but also temperament.
Three days of intensive and rigorous training, focusing on skill sets and fitness, has put the side in a good space ahead of a maiden appearance at the mega event, and the coaching staff led by Shane Deitz, the former South Australian cricketer, has stressed on the need to play with nothing to lose.
Bangladesh's biggest problem has been an inability to consistently put up defendable totals. The batters have been bogged down early on, forcing them to play catch-up.
It's interesting to note that no member in the squad of 15 has a half-century in Twenty20 Internationals. That is why Salma Khatum, the captain, alongwith Rumana Ahmed and Lata Mondal, the team's most experienced players who have featured in each of the 18 T20Is it has played, will have their task cut out when Bangladesh bats.
On the other side of the spectrum is West Indies. Fast-improving, known for eye-catching celebrations, and with a passion that ensures there's no dull moment when the players are on the field. Cricket is as much a confidence game as it is about ability, a fact West Indies would readily testify to. It is fascinating how one good win can transform a team into a different unit.
The Merissa Aguilleira-led side failed to notch up a single win on its tour of New Zealand last month, being blanked 4-0. But that team looks a pale shadow compared to the side that landed in Bangladesh a couple of weeks ago. England, the overwhelming favourite, was beaten by nine runs in an exciting clash, where West Indies bowled and fielded like the players' lives depended on it.
Deandra Dottin, the talismanic allrounder, failed with the bat but made her presence felt with the ball. Her four wickets in the second half of the England innings put the brakes on the scoring and added to the pressure, ultimately leading to England's lower order caving in. Once again, she will hold the key in a batting order brimming with talent and firepower.
The concerns are the injuries to Stafanie Taylor and Kycia Knight, the openers, who set the foundation for the win with an 87-run opening stand. Taylor twisted her knee while backing up on the field, while Kycia appeared to have pulled her hamstring while preventing a boundary. Both players were wincing with pain and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.
The men's motto of 'One team, one people, one goal' has led the women into making one of their own, with Aguilleira announcing that 'Keeping the faith' was the women’s motto. The sense of pride with which Aguilleira speaks is hard to miss, and her infectious passion drives the team while holding the mix of flamboyance and text-book style together. A win on Wednesday will help the side inch another step closer to the semifinal.
Bangladesh: Salma Khatun (capt), Jahanara Alam, Rumana Ahmed, Fargana Hoque, Ayasha Rahman, Lata Mondal, Sanjida Islam, Fahima Khatun, Panna Ghosh, Sharmin Akhter, Nuzhat Tasnia (wk), Khadijatul Kubra, Shohaly Akther, Shamima Sultana, Shaila Sharmin.
West Indies: Merissa Aguilleira (capt, wk), Shemaine Campbelle, Deandra Dottin, Chinelle Henry, Kycia Knight, Kyshona Knight, Stafanie Taylor, Stacy-Ann King, Shanel Daley, Natasha McLean, Anisa Mohammed, Subrina Munroe, Shakera Selman, Tremayne Smartt, Shaquana Quintyne.