Can Bangladesh spell some magic and stay alive?


Bangladesh vs. Pakistan
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Alright…So all of you thought till ‘Super Eights’ things would be nice, calm and easy, teams can sing lullabies to each other, try different combinations in order to identify their best eleven and that there won’t be too many twists in the tale. Well, for some teams these imaginations did realize, but fairly tales aren’t told in the ‘group of death’ and here we are ready to witness this face-off tonight; which is all but comfortable for the two sides involved.

Bangladesh would take on Pakistan in last of the Group ‘D’ games (it also happens to be the last game in the ‘Group Stage’), that the ‘Bangla Tigers’ must win and win handsomely to be able to advance into the ‘Super Eights’. Here is the magnitude of this handsomeness – Bangladesh, in case they bat first, must win this game by a margin of at least 36 runs to better Pakistan on net run-rate. If they win by exact 36 runs they would still advance because they’ll be one up head-to-head. If however they happen to chase, number of overs that they’ll get to chase and advance would depend upon how much can Pakistan put on the board. For instance, if Pakistan sets them a target of 150, they must chase it down in 15.4 overs or less. Looks really tough given the way both sides have gone till now in this tournament, but who knows; one good innings or a deadly spell from someone.

If we briefly look at the teams, both sides have match winners on them. For Bangladesh Shakib-Al-Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim can spring a surprise with the bat plus they have some good spinners, their fielding is also very good. Pakistan on the other hand looks better balanced, with their bowling arguably the best of the lot; Saeed Ajmal – the magician, Umal Gul and Shahid Afridi can trouble any batting line-up; and their batting is also coming good of late. Nasir Jamshed in particular is a very good addition to the side. He is a guy to watch out for; his lofted sixes over extra-cover against the Kiwis were spectacular.

For records, of the 44 times these two sides have met, Bangladesh has won only once; that was in the 1999 ICC World Cup. So, Pakistan start as clear favorites but for sure they’ll be under lot of pressure; we know what sort of situation that infamous 1999 loss resulted in; and what we also know is – there is no reason it won’t repeat if they lose tonight.

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Pakistan must fix their batting order


INZAMAM UL HAQ
(Photo credit: paddynapper)

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Asia Cup win in Bangladesh was a high for Pakistan cricket in the limited overs’ format and they would have loved to continue from there. But coming from a break of over two months from international cricket they really looked short on match practice. This is also where the impact of non inclusion of their players in IPL can be felt. With players from all other countries, including Sri Lanka, got more than decent exposure to T20 cricket, Pakistan players looked rusty. Despite restricting Sri Lanka for a moderate total, it turned out to be a one sided affair…Pakistan’s batting failed yet again.

We talk, read, hear and discuss this all the time; and it goes on, Pakistan’s batting remains an ideal example of “inconsistency”. Their batting order looks skewed as ever, it’s hard to recall when was the last time, for two consecutive series, they played with the same top four. May be late 90s!!! Anwar, Sohail, Ijaz, Inzamam.

Hafeez’s captaincy should bring positive changes to the side because he has a good cricketing head. They obviously call him ‘Professor’ for some reasons. Whatmore is a proven mentor too and his methods showed effective results during his stint with two of the subcontinents’ sides. But, given their experience and class, the first thing they should look into, which is highly apparent is – batting order. Yes it is right to nurture young talent and they should be given their share of opportunities, however, at cost of team’s performance, it doesn’t seem to be a good idea.

Afridi and Umar Akmal, especially in a T20 game, must bat higher in the order. You have Ahmed Shehzad the ‘dasher’ alright but there is a definite need to add more fire power up there. There is another dasher in their ranks, who has been out of the side for quite a while now – Imran Nazir. One can argue he is too reckless as times but on his day he is a match winner. In T20 games, match winners of his ability must play, even more because, Pakistan batting anyways operates in the repair mode. Their top order invariably fails and lower-middle order comes to their rescue. So even if Nazir fails, their modus operandi remains.

Sunday evening they play their second T20 of the series and they must sort out their batting before going into it. Over the years, Pakistan’s bowlers have taken too much pressure, and kept them in the fray, its time their batsmen arrive.