A Sunday morning at the Oval. Bright sunshine and clear skies were on the menu as the World Cup favourites India and Australia faced off.
Prior to the World Cup, I predicted Bangladesh would beat South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the group stages, and possibly clinch fourth.
However, good old English weather washing out their clash against Sri Lanka may have ruined the prospects of an unlikely semi-final for the Tigers, with a win needed against Australia or India to boost their top-four hopes.
Both sides are coming off pretty comprehensive victories, against West Indies and Sri Lanka respectively.
Although Australia haven’t played to their best, they have notched up four wins to sit top of the table. Scary stuff when they get to playing at 100 per cent.
But if Bangladesh play at their best, Australia could be in for a fight. First though, one of the Tigers’ openers has to convert their start.
In four innings, Tamim Iqbal has scored only 107 runs and Soumya Sarkar just 95. One of these two has to take more responsibility to ensure that the burden isn’t on Shakib Al Hasan to score the bulk of the runs again.
However, they’ve put on two 50-plus opening stands, which have both led to Bangladesh wins. Another one on a decent strip at Nottingham will be handy building towards an unlikely victory.
Liton Das’s 94 against the Windies shows there’s more to Bangladesh than just the senior members. He hasn’t fulfilled his potential in international cricket so far, but another good innings at number five will win him more fans.
The seamers were a tad expensive but on a small ground against a powerful line-up, that was expected. The fact that they took six of the eight wickets is more important.
But surely Rubel Hossain gets a go. On a Nottingham pitch which rarely provides purchase for finger spinners, his extra pace could be the x-factor.
The fielding was brilliant as well, bar a few mishaps, saving some 30-odd runs. That type of effort will be required against the green and gold, as the likes of Steve Smith, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell are very good between the wickets.
Warner has put a lot of expectation on himself as his strike rate this World Cup is only 76 – compared to his ususal 95. Having gone to the same primary school, I want him to do better – but please not against Bangladesh! If Warner gets going, he will inflict a lot of damage against this bowling attack.
I feel for Usman Khawaja. He’s scored so many runs opening the batting, yet suddenly gets played as a floater when he’s clearly not comfortable to do that.
Shaun Marsh hasn’t performed, but he’s coming in for the ‘slog overs’ rather than receiving the time to get set.
Australia’s bowling is reliant on the new-ball attack. If Mitch Starc and Pat Cummins don’t take early wickets, the other bowlers have been attacked relentlessly, as India did at the Oval.
Perhaps Adam Zampa could come in, but Maxwell has done OK tying up one end, as evidenced against Sri Lanka.
The Aussies also cannot afford to pepper the Bengali batsmen with short stuff like the Windies did – it has to be used as a surprise tactic or else it’ll be another run-fest from Shakib and co.
This match is a bit weird for me. I’m born and brought up in Sydney yet my parents’ Bengali heritage has led to my heart following the Tigers since I was ten years old. Winning the Test in Dhaka or that ODI victory in Cardiff ’05 meant a lot to the fans and the players.
If Bangladesh can see off the new ball and put on a solid opening partnership, those moments could be recreated.