International cricket, back at the SCG. There has been just about no better sight in 2020 for fans, players and officials alike as India kicked off their long-awaited tour of Australia.
Evidently, Australia hasn’t been the team of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
The merry with which Australia arrived at the competition may not have been wholly shrugged off, but the side remains far from invincible.
The defending champions have managed some stunning comebacks to register three wins from four, but there remains a cloud of uncertainty over their best playing XI.
On the other hand, Bangladesh have been a mighty force to be reckoned with, pummelling sides like South Africa and the Windies.
Soumya Sarkar and experienced campaigner Tamim Iqbal have been getting their side off to blazing starts. The former has enjoyed being the aggressor, but is yet to translate that into a significant knock. The duo will be up against the new-ball bowling pair of Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, with the over-reliance upon those two proving precarious.
Shakib Al-Hasan is the biggest hurdle in Australia’s way. The all-rounder’s promotion to the No.3 spot has him atop the table for most runs, amassing a staggering 384 in just four games at a ridiculous average of 128. To stall the left-hander’s red-hot form, the Aussies need keep things tight and not let Shakib settle.
And while the veteran is letting his bat do the talking, count him out with the ball at your peril, especially since the Aussie batsmen are prone to struggle against left-arm spinners.
Bangladesh’s batting depth extends to No.10, with captain Mashrafe Mortaza as capable as any top-order batsmen of contributing precious runs. Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mahumudullah are also adept batsmen.
While Australia’s four-pronged pace attack was instrumental in winning their fifth World Cup, oppositions have negated them tactfully. It is a case of worry when Cummins and Starc have accounted for 24 wickets collectively, while Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson have taken a collective six.
The thinktank may need to consider giving off-spinner Nathan Lyon his maiden World Cup cap or throwing wrist-spinner Adam Zampa back into the mix.
Their positive signs include Aaron Finch extending his purple patch by scoring 153 against the Sri Lankans, while Glenn Maxwell’s potential to turn a game on its head remains unquestionable.
Finally Starc and Cummins’ ominous form is undeniably the competitive edge.
In short, the Australians could still brush Bangladesh aside.
However, unlike previous editions, it will take a herculean effort to upstage the Tigers.
As the knockout stages draw close, the five-time champions need to find lightning-fast fixes for their lower-order batting and bowling departments.