1) Batting paradise favours the Windies
Australia were set for 350-plus in Taunton before ending up with 307 against Pakistan, who looked like they would chase it down in an eighth-wicket stand before Mitchell Starc snuffed it out. This English county ground is a batting paradise, which the giant-hitters of the West Indies will relish. Bangladesh would want to challenge them with spin, but Chris Gayle and Andre Russell can target the small straight boundaries for sixes.
2) Bangladesh out-muscled
Bangladesh have been punching above their weight and holding their own with talented batsmen like Shakib Al Hasan. But they’re not a side that has the muscle to post huge scores, although they did get 330 against a depleted South African attack at the Oval. Their best bet will be to bat first and get a score of around 300. The West Indies batsmen appear to be still playing in T20 mode, so a long run chase can be their undoing.
3) Bangladesh spinners hold the key
The Bangladesh spinners almost defended a modest score of 244 against New Zealand, taking six of the eight Kiwi wickets that fell. They will be vulnerable in Taunton, but the West Indies batsmen don’t use their feet to spin. The best ploy will be to bowl slow on a good length, denying half-volleys. The square boundaries are a fair distance on this ground. So batsmen can be induced into holing out if they try muscling the ball across the line. The spinners will have to be brave and wily, but Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has exposed Gayle’s weakness time and again in the IPL. Bangladesh have two good off-spinners in Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Mosaddek Hossain, besides the left-arm spin of all-rounder Shakib.
4) Staying alive in the league
West Indies and Bangladesh have identical results in the round-robin league going into this game: two losses, a win, and a rained-out game, yielding three points from four games. This means whichever side loses this game will join South Africa in being out of the reckoning for the semi-final line-up, barring some freakish outcomes. It ups the ante for the encounter.
5) Ghosts from the past
The last time these teams met in the World Cup was in 2011. Bangladesh suffered the ignominy of being bowled out for 58 on their home ground at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur. Both teams have evolved since then. Bangladesh have become a mature side with experienced players doing well against all comers. West Indies, on the other hand, went into a steep decline, with players at loggerheads with administrators. But they have come to this World Cup with a side strengthened by the re-induction of marquee players, thanks to a new, flexible cricket board. Now they need to show they can do more than showboating by playing some smart cricket.
Sumit Chakraberty is the author of 2019 Cricket World Cup Thinking Cap.