Teenage fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has taken six cheap wickets as Pakistan beat Bangladesh by 94 runs at Lord’s, clocking up their fourth World Cup win in a row but narrowly missing out on the semi-finals.
Bangladesh have been in good touch as they prepare for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, but standing up and delivering on the grandest stage of them all will be more than a challenge for the Tigers.
Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Shakib Al Hasan (vc), Liton Das, Mehidy Hasan, Mosaddek Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Tamim Iqbal, Abu Jayed, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman, Sabbir Rahman, Mohammad Saifuddin, Soumya Sarkar
The Tigers have named a somewhat interesting squad for the 2019 Cricket World Cup, although most of the expected big names will be in action throughout the tournament.
Mashrafe Mortaza – the veteran of three World Cup campaigns – leads them into battle, while Shakib Al Hasan, who at various points in his career has been rated as the best all-rounder on the planet – and very underrated at all other times, will have a huge role to play with both bat and ball.
Mehidy Hasan will be a familiar name for Australian audiences after he spun a web around the Aussie top order on their last tour over there, while Tamim Iqbal provides some lethality to the top of the order with his generally all guns blazing approach. It’s left him with a career strike rate of 80 in ODI cricket, which is testament to the ‘sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.’
Mushfiqur Rahim will also bring a wealth of experience to the side and will also carry the gloves.
Experience is the big one here for the Tigers, who will be looking to better their 2015 appearance of a quarter-final exit.
It’s hard to go past the experienced players in this Bangladesh side, and while, to be fair, a lot of that experience isn’t exactly the best sort of experience, they have players who have done this before.
If you look through their squad, captain Mashrafe Mortaza, all-rounder and vice-captain Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim have all been in the game since around the 2007 World Cup, while opening batsman Tamim Iqbal isn’t far behind them.
While spin bowling would normally be a strength for any sub-continental team, Bangladesh’s looks to be neither here nor there ahead of the 2019 version.
Mehidy Hasan is their only recognised spinner, but the 21-year-old is a strength to any side he plays in, although his career ODI numbers aren’t all that flattering.
His variations and accuracy are sure to catch more than a few batsmen out throughout the 2019 World Cup.
Batting is the big one, and on these smaller English grounds, often on flat decks, it’s going to be a real kick in the teeth for Bangladesh is they can’t find a way to go big, and go big often.
Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan are the two most recognisable names here, but there is a mountain of pressure on them – far too much for it to have a healthy of positive impact on their cricket.
Bangladesh, to be fair, are finding some form at the right time in a tri-series featuring Ireland and the West Indies, but in the long-term, they are still struggling to crack 300 on a regular basis with the stick, which will barely be enough most of the time in England.
Their pace attack also doesn’t look outstanding on paper, which, when compared to other teams and considering the ball might swing around a bit early in England, doesn’t bode well for a successful tournament either.
Still, it could be a chance for unheralded players like Abu Jayed and Mustafizur Rahim to stand up and make a name for themselves on the greatest stage of them all.
Could there really be anyone else even considered at the key man for the Tigers?
Shakib in his own right is one of, if not the best all-rounder in the world at the present time.
And that’s not overstating things.
If he was a bowler only, you’d have to be consdidering him as one of the best bowlers on the planet, and if he was a batsman only, then you’d also be considering him as one of the best in that discipline.
It’s not a every day a complete cricketer walks onto the scene, but Shakib is exactly that with ODI career numbers of 5667 runs at 36 and 249 wickets at 29, it’s not hard to see why he is simply the best.
He has helped put Bangladesh cricket on the map, and now will look to take it to the next level in the twilight of a glitering career.
The Tigers have had some promising results every now and again, but in this long tournament setting, unless their stars go big a majority of the time, they are going to be at the bottom of the pile, competing with teams like Sri Lanka and Afghanistan to avoid the final spot on the ladder.