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.
It has been 10 years since Pakistan won an ODI series against the Australians. Yes, it was the year 2002 when they last beat the Aussies to win a series. They have a good chance to change these stats when they play at their second home on dry pitches where their spinners can be really dangerous.
Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are scorching hot during this time of the year with temperatures soaring to around 45’C and this can test the fitness of both the sides, especially, Australians’ who aren’t much used to such conditions. More than the heat, its the humidity that really saps a lot out of the players. It is like a sauna in the middle, where the players sweat profusely and with dew cover in the outfield it a two prong battle — outplay the opposition and at the same time fight the dew.
Both sides have won a match each with the decider to be played at Sharjah on Monday-Tuesday night. Australian pacemen ran through the Pakistan batting in the first ODI and after few hiccups in the middle of Aussies innings, the new guns Bailey and Maxwell held their nerve to make sure Australians cross over the line safely. Pakistan’s spinners bowled really well but as the batting again failed to deliver it was little too much of an ask for them.
Pakistan however bounced back in the second ODI, with their spinners, especially the magical off spinner Saeed Ajmal again bowling tremendously well to confine Australians to a modest total of 249. It was followed by a superb almost run-a-ball innings of 97 from Nasir Jamshed who dominated the Aussie attack and Pakistan surpassed the total with more than six overs to spare to set up a comprehensive and convincing victory. For a long time now Pakistan is in search of a genuine opening batsman and it seems with the arrival of Jamshed this wait is over. He just needs to watch out his injuries.
The decider promises to be an exciting contest with both sides looking to end on a high which would give them a psychological advantage ahead of the T20 series. Australia may make a change or two in their line-up by considering playing an additional spinner. For Pakistan, if Afridi recovers from his strain he may come back in place of Rehman whose figures were not too impressive in the last game. Also, with Afridi you have a potential chance of dominating the game if he fires with the bat. Though on that, I rest my case :) !!!WW6PXY4QQTKV