DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza is wary of the muscle power of West Indies batsmen, saying they are big hitters who can quickly change the momentum in a one-day international.
Mortaza, who will lead Bangladesh into the first of the three-match ODI series against West Indies on Sunday, does not want his team to be complacent even though it swept the recent two-match test series.
Instead, he wants it to be focused, believing concentration can help players gain an early advantage in the series.
"They have huge muscle power in their batting lineup," Mortaza said. "What we have seen (is) that they have some players who have almost changed the game against India recently in this format. They can destroy any bowling lineup on their day. The shorter the format is, the better the West Indies is, so we have to focused on the first game initially rather than thinking of whitewash."
The match will also be the 200th ODI for Mortaza, making him the first Bangladesh player to reach that mark. And, since Bangladesh's only ODI series before the 2019 World Cup in England begins in May will take place in New Zealand, the three games could be Mortaza's last at home as he hints toward retirement after the event.
"It's a big achievement but nothing is more important that (Sunday's) match," said Mortaza, 35, who will stand in Bangladesh's upcoming 11th national parliamentary election from his constituency, Narail-2, on Dec. 30. "(Sunday's) match is very important. We must win it if we want to gain the momentum for the whole series."
The captain said it has been a relief for Bangladesh to have Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal back for the series.
Both Bangladesh stalwarts were injured during the Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates in September, and although Shakib returned for the test series against West Indies, it would be the first match since for Tamim.
"Obviously, Shakib and Tamim being in the team is a big advantage," Mortaza said. "The fact that Tamim played the practice match and made runs is a big relief for us and him as well."
Tamim's return left Bangladesh to decide its top order combination because of other players' form.
"Having an in-form top order is a sweet problem to have," Mortaza said. "It might be the case that one or more of them (could bat lower down the order). Nothing is for certain."
West Indies has not won a bilateral ODI series since its victory against Bangladesh at home in 2014, but captain Rovman Powell is confident his team will turn it around.
"We haven't won an ODI series in a long time," Powell said. "The guys are upbeat and raring to go. No better opportunity to change it in Bangladesh. We have played some lovely cricket in India but we didn't get the results that we wanted."
Powell believes winning the key moment of the game will be important in deciding the series.
"It will be very equal," he said. "Both teams have good spinners, fast bowlers and batters. It will be a very competitive series, and it will come down to who wins those key moments in each game."