So competitive has this year’s T20 World Cup been, that heading into the final day of the Super 12s, five out of six teams in Group 2 remain in contention for two semi-final slots. The story in Group 1 was also equally gripping.
Irrespective of the result, there was improvement for Bangladesh in that game. Litton Das finally came out of his shell to get a superb half-century, Taskin Ahmed bowled an economical four-over spell with the new ball where he tested India’s top-order batters, and Mustafizur Rahman seemed to be in his groove at the death. Taskin and Nurul Hasan even smashed India’s bowlers around in the dying stages of that game, but ideally, Bangladesh’s middle order needs to do that job.
Pakistan will be aware of these gaps in Bangladesh’s make-up. They recently met in Christchurch in a tri-series designed as a build-up for the World Cup; Pakistan beat Bangladesh both times, although they had to fight for the wins on either occasion.
Allrounders Mohammad Nawaz and Mohammad Wasim have contributed regularly, too, and, not to forget, Pakistan have impactful fast bowlers who have the potential to knock over Bangladesh, who often struggle against pace and bounce.
(Last five completed matches; most recent first)
In the spotlight
Shadab Khan‘s maiden T20I fifty couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for Pakistan. His knock of 52 from just 22 balls against South Africa took them from a difficult position to one of safety. Later, his two wickets in one over turned the game around for Pakistan. Shadab has quickly become a high-impact player, with an aggressive approach as a batter and accurate, stump-to-stump lines as a legspinner, apart from being a gun fielder. He has shown the ability to adapt to different situations, too, particularly in the batting order.
Babar and Rizwan haven’t fired, but with their other batters, allrounders and fast bowlers all showing good form, they are unlikely to change the side that beat South Africa in Sydney.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 2 Babar Azam (capt), 3 Mohammad Haris, 4 Shan Masood, 5 Iftikhar Ahmed, 6 Shadab Khan, 7 Mohammad Nawaz, 8 Mohammad Wasim, 9 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 10 Haris Rauf, 11 Naseem Shah
Bangladesh, too, are likely to retain the same side – including the same set of fast bowlers – from the India game for this one.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 2 Litton Das, 3 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 4 Afif Hossain, 5 Nurul Hasan (wk), 6 Mosaddek Hossain, 7 Yasir Ali, 8 Taskin Ahmed, 9 Shoriful Islam, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Hasan Mahmud
Pitch and conditions
Three out of four matches at the Adelaide Oval have been won by the side defending a total, with the average score batting first in those matches being 179. Teams have been helped by the short square boundaries too. A full game is in the offing as no rain has been forecast for Sunday.
Stats and trivia
“We believe we can beat Pakistan. Qualifying for the semi-final is not in our hands, unfortunately.”
Bangladesh’s technical consultant Sridharan Sriram knows his side can do only so much