Tigers still in the hunt, but only just
England losing to Sri Lanka just recently has opened the door for two more teams in the ICC World Cup semi-finals race. The team who defeated the hosts, Sri Lanka sit just outside the top four while Bangladesh are a big chance of overtaking them after this game. A big chance indeed, but after Afghanistan’s narrow-loss to India, it might have Bangladesh a little bit on edge heading into this crucial-clash at Southampton.
They look like a team that can push the very-best to the ultimate limit, and Bangladesh did exactly that against the in-form Australians at Trent Bridge where they fell 48 runs short of victory chasing 382 for victory. If anything, they just lack that polish that teams like India, New Zealand, Australia and England Possess. As mentioned above, this is a massive opportunity for one of the World Cup underdogs to go into their final group stage match with the possibility of sneaking into the semi-finals. England has two challenging matches ahead of them, that could work in both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka’s favor with the hosts under the pump to perform just to qualify for the finals. Afghanistan certainly have their work cut out for them in this one, Shakib Al Hasan is in career-best form with the bat and Mushfiqur Rahim is coming off an unbeaten-century against Australia. Half centuries to opener Tamim Iqbal and all-rounder Mahmudullah will put further pressure on the winless-Afghanistan who are becoming a stepping stone for some teams in need of points. Afghanistan’s spinners bowled well against India – Mohammad Nabi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan all making crucial-breakthroughs.
With a strong batting line-up at their disposal, Bangladesh may be able to dictate terms against a significantly-weaker Afghanistan who’s strength is clearly in their bowling attack. With no in-form batsmen or major leading run-scorers for the tournament, they’ll just have to chip away at Bangladesh’s bowlers and hope it takes the game deep enough just like in their last outing against India. Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib has been impressive in his last two games, producing little-cameos at the top of the order as well as picking up five wickets with the ball. Najibullah Zadran is a bit of an X factor down the order in this World Cup, scores of 51 & 43 against Australia and Sri Lanka back that up. Bangladesh will have to decide whether to give seamer Rubel Hossain another opportunity, or bring back Mohammad Saifuddin who’s been a genuine wicket-taker albeit a bit expensive. We could see a bit more of Soumya Sarkar’s medium-pace after he bagged three wickets against Australia, Mustafizur Rahman took Bangladesh’s only other wicket for the day. Mosaddek Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin could both return from injury provided they pass fitness tests.
Top 5 fantasy picks – Afghanistan
- Gulbadin Naib
- Hashmatullah Shahidi
- Rashid Khan
- Mohammad Nabi
- Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Wildcard pick – Asghar Afghan
Top 5 fantasy picks – Bangladesh
- Shakib Al Hasan
- Tamim Iqbal
- Mushfiqur Rahim
- Mehidy Hasan
- Mustafizur Rahman
Wildcard pick – Mashrafe Mortaza
Predicted Team XI’s
Afghanistan (possible) – 1. Hazratullah Zazai 2. Gulbadin Naib (c) 3. Rahmat Shah 4. Hashmatullah Shahidi 5. Asghar Afghan 6. Mohammad Nabi 7. Najibullah Zadran/Samiullah Shinwari 8. Rashid Khan 9. Ikram Alikhil (wk) 10. Aftab Alam/Hamid Hassan/Dawlat Zadran 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Bangladesh (possible) – 1. Tamim Iqbal 2. Soumya Sarkar 3. Shakib Al Hasan 4. Mushfiqur Rahim (wk) 5. Liton Das 6. Mahmudullah 7. Mosaddek Hossain 8. Mohammad Saifuddin/Rubel Hossain 9. Mehidy Hasan 10. Mashrafe Mortaza (c) 11. Mustafizur Rahman.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.