England, Australia, New Zealand and India have pulled away from the pack in the World Cup league. Bangladesh look the most likely among the rest to fight for a place in the semi-finals. A win over Australia on Thursday would set them up nicely, but that’s a hard nut to crack. Mint tells you what to watch out for at the Trent Bridge clash.
Bangla tigers roar
The manner in which Bangladesh subdued West Indies at Taunton on Monday forces a nod of acknowledgement that the cubs of international cricket are now full-grown. They took on the expected short pitch barrage from the West Indian quicks with aplomb, and the Caribbeans had no Plan B. Bangladesh reached the victory target of 322 with eight-and-a-half overs to spare. It was an easy wicket, but still a mighty impressive chase. In an earlier game, the Bangla batsmen, who are not known as power-hitters, posted 330 against South Africa, which their bowlers defended easily.
Good captaincy and bowling
Bangladesh have been intelligent on the field, mixing it up with a variety of medium pace and spin. When Shimron Hetmyer threatened to take the game away, reaching his 50 in 25 balls, Bangla captain Mashrafe Mortaza brought on Mustafizur Rahman who had conceded 19 runs in his previous over. A slower ball induced an error from Hetmyer. And later, when the 6ft 7 inch West Indies captain Jason Holder started tonking the spinners for sixes, a bowling change and bouncer accounted for him. The main threats, Chris Gayle and Andre Russell, were snuffed out for ducks with clever seam bowling.
Trent Bridge challenge
Trent Bridge is reputed to be the highest-scoring ground in England, but the wet World Cup has produced odd games. The West Indies blasted out Pakistan for 105 and almost did the same to Australia who recovered from 79 for 5 to score 288 and win by 15 runs in the end. But when England put Pakistan in to bat, expecting to blast them out with the 150-kph-plus speeds of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, they conceded 348 and lost by 14 runs. The drizzly weather can have an effect, although the ground has a newfangled hover cover with an air circulation unit to keep the pitch dry.
Australia’s ‘A’ game
Australia have eight points from five games to be second in the points table. But they were lucky to win against the Windies who squandered their opportunity with thoughtless cricket. Pakistan too had a good chance to chase down the 307 Australia scored against them. India beat Australia quite easily. But it’s a team on the ascendancy, and we probably haven’t seen their best yet. Will they pull out their ‘A’ game against Bangladesh?
Encore needed from Shakib Al Hasan
All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, revelling in his promotion to number three, is the top scorer in the World Cup with 384 runs. Apart from the tally, his unbeaten century to take the team home to a win over the Windies shows his temperament. How he copes with Pat Cummins’ bouncers and Mitchell Starc’s yorkers holds the key to Bangladesh’s chances against Australia.
Sumit Chakraberty is the author of 2019 Cricket World Cup Thinking Cap.