Jason Mohammed

HAVING A STRETCH: West Indies One-Day captain Jason Mohammed warms up during his team’s first practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, yesterday. —Photo: AFP

Jason Mohammed expects a trial by spin for his West Indies One-Day team in Bangladesh. But he is banking on being able to counter-attack with a weapon of his own — Akeal Hosein.

The Windies players had their first practice session yesterday following their mandatory period in isolation after their arrival in Bangladesh.

And asked about the West Indies spin attack and left-arm spinner Hosein in particular, stand-in skipper Mohammed told the media via an online conference: “I think he will be a very crucial player for us in this series. He spins the ball nicely and has a lovely arm-ball...He is a very capable batsman and is very good in the field as well. There is a lot to look forward for from Akeal Hosein and hopefully he can come to the party and really showcase his talent and do well.”

Hosein, the Red Force and Trinbago Knight Riders player is on his first assignment with the Windies. Like his skipper Mohammed, he was drafted into the One-Day squad for the three-match ODI series which begins next week after several players in both the ODI and Test teams declined selection for the tour.

Among those declining to tour “due to Covid-19 related concerns or personal fears,” were Test captain Jason Holder, ODI skipper, Kieron Pollard, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran. Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich were also unavailable due to personal reasons.

However, despite detailing the strengths of Hosein, Mohammed added:“I would not say there is any one surprise element (in the West Indies team). I think there are a lot of guys to look forward to, so I can’t single out anyone. A lot of the new guys coming in are highly skilled and hopefully you will see the good young talent we have in the West Indies.”

Speaking about his own return to maroon colours, Mohammed, 34, said his return as captain is an opportunity to revive his international career after two years out of the side. Mohammed played the last of his 28 ODIs and nine T20Is for the Windies more than two years ago. But he said there is no added pressure on himself or his teammates.

“Being out of the squad for two years, I am happy to be back and given the important role to lead the team. It’s a big job and I just want to lead the team to the best of my abilities and to try and lead the team to a series win,” he said.

He also said his players were ready to show they belong at the highest level.

“I think it is an ideal opportunity for all of us to put our hands up and show that we are ready for international cricket and we are just looking forward to the opportunity,” Mohammed explained.

It is not a new situation for Mohammed who was also called on to stand-in as white-ball captain for one ODI against England in 2017 and three T20Is against Pakistan in 2018.

But apart from being out of the West Indies team for more than two years, Mohammed has not played a competitive game of cricket since last March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and he said the next few days before the first ODI on January 20 will be crucial for himself and many of the other players.

“There are not a lot of senior guys around and there are a lot of young faces in the team and a lot of guys will be making their debut. My job will be to try to make them as relaxed and calm as possible and try to guide them in the right direction especially on the field,” said Mohammed.

“For me, I have not played a cricket game for a couple of months. Obviously, it’s been a long time but I have been doing some practice back home with the Trinidad and Tobago senior team and we have a couple of days here which are going to be very important for our preparation for the series.

“I’m just trying to hit as much balls as I can and try and find the middle of the bat as soon as possible and just look forward to enjoying three good games in the series,” he added.

And speaking about the opposition, Mohammed said: “Over the last couple of years, Bangladesh rely heavily on their spin and they have some very good spinners in their team, so I think the conditions will suit them but it is something we are aware of coming here.”

“We had our first practice today and the wicket was a bit on the slow side. It is something we have to prepare for and we have to try our best to conquer that. I think they will be coming with a lot of spin for us,” he pointed out.

Mohammed acknowledged that, “the record shows they have gotten the better of us the last couple of times,” but he stressed that, ”once we play good, consistent cricket and cover the basics, we can do well on this tour and win games.”

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