The glaring absence of Chris Gayle stood out as the West Indies prepared to open their Bangladesh tour with a Twenty20 international in Dhaka on Tuesday.
The explosive left-hander was omitted for the tour, which also includes three one-dayers and two Tests, following a breakdown in his relationship with the West Indies Cricket Board following the World Cup earlier this year.
As his compatriots warmed up in Bangladesh, Gayle emerged as the second highest scorer in the Twenty20 Champions League in India with 257 runs in six matches for the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Gayle, 32, has played 91 Tests, 228 one-dayers and 20 Twenty20 matches for the West Indies and has two triple-centuries in Test cricket to his name.
But coach Ottis Gibson played down the absence of both the star batsman and leading all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, saying he was happy with the progress his young side was making.
“Whenever Chris Gayle does come back, we will welcome him in the set-up,” Gibson told reporters on Monday. “The team we have here is the one our selectors have given us.”
‘Moving on nicely’
Gibson reminded reporters that the current team had beaten England in a Twenty20 international last month.
“We are moving on nicely,” he said. “We are quite happy with the progress we are making and hopefully the team will continue the same way on this tour.”
Bravo, who was also not considered for selection despite being fit, turned out for the Chennai Super Kings in the Champions League which ended in Chennai on Sunday.
The same day, Marlon Samuels made up for the two stars’ absence from the national side with an unbeaten 102 off 56 balls to help the tourists trounce a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI by 75 runs in a Twenty20 warm-up.
The West Indies piled up 195-3 in their 20 overs and restricted the home team to 120-6 to record a comprehensive win.
On Tuesday captain Darren Sammy’s men return to the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka where they dismissed Bangladesh for 58 in a World Cup game in March on their way to a nine-wicket romp.
Wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim will begin his reign as Bangladesh’s new captain with the Twenty20 clash, with all-rounder Mohammad Mahmudullah as his deputy.
Playing smart cricket
Rahim replaces leading all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who was sacked last month after a disastrous tour of Zimbabwe where Bangladesh lost both the Test and one-day series.
“We are better prepared now than we were against Zimbabwe and that will help us to perform well,” said Rahim.
“We are not as good as the West Indies. We are still learning. But if we bat, bowl and field to our potential, we can win the series. We will play every match to win.”
Bangladesh’s Australian coach Stuart Law hoped the series will reflect the cricketing talent in Bangladesh.
“We want to play smart cricket,” said Law. “There is so much talent in the ranks. If all the 11 do their bit, we can make it our day.” — AFP