Ireland's shock win over England on Wednesday has opened up Group B. And though it may now seem that both Bangladesh and the West Indies have more breathing space going into Friday's match at the Sher-e Bangla stadium, there was no let up in intensity as the two teams trained on the match eve.
Even before the World Cup, Bangladesh had targeted Ireland, the Netherlands and the West Indies as the teams in their group they can beat which will give them a chance to qualify for the knock-out. Expectations have soared after the thrilling win against Ireland. And there are talks of a wicket very different from the first two matches that will help Bangladesh spinners extract turn.
But beating the West Indies will not be as easy as in 2009, when the home team were depleted because of a player-board dispute. The experienced Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul have all returned and with Kieron Pollard firing away down the order, the batting lineup looks formidable. An outright turning track to support the "40 overs of spin" that skipper Shakib-Al Hasan said his team was planning to bowl too can backfire.
The West Indies have the likes of left-arm spinners Sulieman Benn and Nikita Miller, apart from the off-spin of Gayle. Much will depend of how Bangladesh bat on Friday, after an ordinary show against Ireland. Their batsmen tried to play shots on a wicket where the ball was not coming on and perished. On Friday too, the wicket is unlikely to be a batting paradise and shot selection would be the key.
Bangladesh see Gayle as such a big threat that the team think tank have kept open the option of changing the winning combination. Off-spinning all-rounder Mohmudullah has been drafted into the 12 and he could replace middle-order batsman Raqibul Hasan or Mohammad Ashraful. The thinking is that with left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak unlikely to cause Gayle much trouble, a regular off-spinner could be a lot more effective.