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Prospects for Team Tigers

 

Cricket admirers all over the world are eagerly awaiting the ICC Champions trophy 2017 cricket fiesta set to start from June 1 when Bengal tigers take on host English Lions at Oval.

The eight ICC top-ranked teams divided into two groups will play one another in round robin league system. Two top teams from each group will qualify for the knocknockoutnd. All teams excepting the reigning champions India have announced their squad within the 25 April dateline. Rumors are around that India for pressing home some of their issues in the ongoing ICC meetings in progress in Dubai held back announcing the squad. India has been outvoted overwhelmingly. It is to be seen whether they participate at all. If not naturally West Indies would be invited filling in.

Given the nature of 50 overs nature of ODI, conditions of wicket in England and Wales in June, composition of the squad, recent forms of players every match promises to produce mouthwatering contests. None of eight teams (including West Indies if they participate as replacement of India in default) can be tagged as outsider. The groups are equally balanced. Bangladesh placed in ‘group A’ has all the quality and potential for winning against any of the other three on their day. To acclimatize with the condition Bangladesh has already arrived in Sussex for two weeks conditioning camp before appearing on a Triangular series in Ireland involving Ireland and New Zealand. Bangladesh will also play two warm up matches against India and Pakistan prior to starting the tournament against host England. Most of the top players of every team excepting Pakistan now on tour to West Indies are engaged in IPL in India.

Squads:

Group A: Australia, Bangladesh, England and New Zealand

AUSTRALIA: Steve Smith (C), David Warner, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa

BANGLADESH: Tamim Iqbal, Somya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehedi Hasan, Sunzamul Islam, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (C), Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam. Standby: Nasir Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Subashis Roy, Md. Saif Uddin

ENGLAND: Eoin Morgan (C), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

NEW ZEALAND: Kane Williamson (C), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Neil Broom, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Jimmy Neesham, Jeetan Patel, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor

Group B:India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka

Squads

India has not announced team within April 25 dateline.

Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (C), Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Fahim Ashraf, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Shadab Khan

South Africa: AB de Villiers (C), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Farhaan Behardien, Morne Morkel

Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews (C), Upul Tharanga (VC), Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugedera, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Nuwan Kulasekera, Thisara Perera, Lakshan Sandakan and Seekkuge Prasanna

Bangladesh is The Dark Horse:

We would like to term Bangladesh in current form as the dark horse of the tournament. Only team that they have not played in recent time is Australia. In recent times Bangladesh won matches and even series against Pakistan, India, South Africa and drew against England and Sri Lanka. In not too distant past Bangladesh whitewashed New Zealand in ODI series. Of course they got whitewashed by Kiwis in the recent series. But matches excepting the first of the three ODIs were keenly contested. The only ODI that Bangladesh won against Australia was at Cardiff when Asharful played a cameo.

The condition is very different in England where ball swings prodigiously in the air especially if sun does not shine on the day. The ball also moves on the seam. Fortunately, Bangladesh now possesses some top quality new ball bowlers alongside charismatic captain Mashrafe. The wickets will definitely suit Mustafiz and Shafiul. Rubel and Taskin will also enjoy bowling there. The only challenge is for the younger bowlers not getting carried away. Luckily master craftsman Courtney Walsh is there to mentor them.

On Oval wicket in the first match Bangladesh may like to play Mehedi Miraz for his outstanding success against England. Shakib has experience of playing and bowling in English condition. If required Mahmudullah, Mosaddek would chip in with few overs. In any case bowling will be stronger point of Bangladesh in the tournament. But the challenges will be batsmen adjusting to the condition and fielders appearing like what they did in the last ODI against Sri Lanka.

English, Australian and Kiwi pacers will try to bounce out Bangladesh batsmen. The tasks are well cut out for Bangladesh top order batsmen. Tamim was exceptional in his last England tour scoring back to back test centuries. He is also in prolific form. He must anchor the innings from one end curbing his flamboyance a little bit at least for the first few overs. Bangladesh needs the exuberance of Soumya at the top but we have to see how he adjusts to moving balls in English condition. Kayes with more experience may be better choice. But performs better in warm up, tri series should be preferred.

We do not think Sabbir will be ideal choice at number three. It will be better playing Mahmudullah for his better techniques and more experience. Sabbir can bat at lower middle order for producing his strokes. Mushfique and Mosaddek will be ideal for four and five for their technique, temperament. Experienced quality all-rounder Shakib can bat at four or six depending on circumstances. Similarly, Sabbir can be a flaoter depending on the situation. If Bangladesh appears with four seamers, including Mashrafe, we find no place for Mehedi. Against England and, Australia we suggest playing him. Against England he has psychological advantage. English batsmen will like to attack him giving opportunity. Australia has not played him. If Mehedi plays Mustafiz and one of the three Rubel/Taskin/Shafiul would join Mashrafe to make the team. We are not sure whether Sunzamul would be better choice than Nasir (stand bye) in the side. Quality all-rounder Nasir could be better choice especially when Bangladesh lacks strong strikers in the last 10 overs.

In the group stage, Bangladesh plays first two matches against England and Australia in Oval. Bangladesh beat England in World Cup 2011 in Chittagong and ICC World Cup 2015 in Adelaide. There is no reason they cannot repeat those performances though it will be far more challenging now in lions den. If Bangladesh can make winning start the momentum would carry them through to round two. Australia has packed their team with fast bowlers Starc, Pattinson, Cummins, Hastings, Hazlewood and power hitters Warner, Maxwell, Finch, Lynn, Smith, Wade, Head, Henriques. If Bangladeshi batsmen can absorb the hostile bowling spells of the speedsters and Mustafiz and Mehedi magic works Bangladesh may even upset Australia. There will be little to choose between Bangladesh and New Zealand. Moreover, teams will have opportunity judging each other in the triangular series preceding the tournament.

I agree with Mashrafe’s observation before the team left for England. It will attitude and temperament that would essentially make the difference. Bangladesh has ability to perform. But it has to deliver and play with the purpose. Cricket admirers must remember that Bangladesh is not the favorite team for winning the tournament. They have ability to win against any team on their day. All we want Bangladesh plays to its potential. Cricket admirers in social media or print media must not burden team tigers with sky high ambitions.

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