While England and Pakistan play a 5-match ODI series to warm-up for the ICC 2019 World Cup, three other teams are also engaging in a pre-World Cup ODI tournament to test their strengths. Ireland play host to West Indies and Bangladesh for a crucial tri-series that gives the teams a last opportunity to fine tune themselves before the mega event.
This series is extremely important also because both Bangladesh and West Indies need their players to find form. It will also allow them to assess different members of the squad and whether they deserve a place in the final XI.
With that in view, let's note down five reasons why this series needs to be followed closely.
Assessing leading West Indies pacers
While many star players of West Indies may be busy playing IPL, the two bowlers who will be leading their attack are very much part of this triangular contest. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel have been greatly responsible for the improvement that West Indies have shown in Test cricket – at least, at home.
Both are likely to be in the starting XI for Windies in most matches. It would be interesting to see how well they do here. Roach is an accomplished swing bowler who would be a major threat if there is cloud cover. But since England has also become a batting paradise, he may not find conditions too favourable. How he adjusts is a crucial question? Gabriel is a fiery bowler who can rattle the batsman with his pace and bounce. He missed West Indies' last ODI series due to a ban. Hence, it is vital that he gets going in this series.
How well these two bowlers perform should be keenly watched. West Indies' fate in the World Cup depends upon it.
Value of Fabian Allen
West Indies have gone for just one frontline spinner in their initial squad – Ashley Nurse – for the World Cup. But they have another option in the form of Fabian Allen who is an all-rounder and can bowl left-arm spin. However, the value of his spin bowling hasn't properly been understood. This series gives a great opportunity to Jason Holder for knowing how good a bowler he is. If Allen is able to hold his own, not only he could provide another slow-bowling option but can also overtake Carlos Brathwaite in the all-rounder's pecking list.
Shai Hope has proven to be one of those annoying cricketers who is, quite clearly, brimming with talent but has been underachieving constantly. However, things look rosier for the Barbadian in limited-overs cricket. In late 2018, the right-handed batsman got into a rich vein of form during the ODI series in India and Bangladesh. If West Indies have to win the World Cup, he has to play a crucial role. Therefore, his form would be monitored.
In this series, West Indies will have the services of Shane Dowrich and Shai Hope, both keeper-batsmen. But in the World Cup squad, there is no Dowrich, meaning that Shai Hope will keep wickets. So, it would be interesting to see whom Jason Holder entrusts with the task of being behind the stumps in these matches. Dowrich's presence means that the selectors probably want to give him an opportunity. Or, his presence could be mjeant to relieve Shai frome the onerous responsibility before the main event begins. If Hope's wicketkeeping is not up to the mark and Dowrich can replicate his Test form into ODIs, there may well open a spot for him.
Golden Opportunity for Taskin
Left out of the provisional squad for the World Cup, Taskin Ahmed has been given a lifeline before the World Cup. There are doubts about the fitness of Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain. If either of the two is not completely fit, Taskin may book himself a place with a good showing in this tournament. But there are other players also trying to seize the opportunity. All-rounders Farhad Reza and Nayeem Hasan as well as off-spinner Yasir Ali may also get a chance in Ireland. So, Taskin has to be at his best in order to keep himself as number 1 in waiting list.