We have our first double header of the ICC Cricket World Cup on Saturday and we begin in the mountains in Dharamsala where two Asian sides get their campaign underway when Bangladesh meet Afghanistan.
Both teams will know they are amount the outsiders to win the competition this year and with that comes a pressure to make sure they win this game to give themselves the best chance of outperforming expectations. That should make for a good game.
Four years ago Bangladesh were being touted as the dark horses for this tournament. They had improved to the extent that they were dangerous in any game that they played but their side peaked in that event and they haven’t really come up with enough succession planning to go into this campaign with the same expectation on them. That sounds a bit daft when you consider conditions here should favour the Tigers much more than English ones should have done.
There appears to be a bit of inner turmoil around this Bangladesh side as well with Tamim Iqbal kicking up a bit of a fuss over his exit from the squad. Those sorts of things usually go one of two ways. A team either rallies around each other and uses it as a siege mentality or the feel sorry for themselves and stink the place out. Bangladesh will hope it is the former because if they win this, with an under pressure England to follow they could be nicely placed in the event this time next week.
We are past the time where Afghanistan are a free hit in this tournament. They probably were in that bracket in England four years ago but I think those days have gone now, even if they have to improve in order to be a feature in this competition. That means they are under a little pressure, especially in a match like this where they are not up against the supposed elite three or four and may well see this as a game they can, and maybe even should, win.
The focus of attention on this Afghanistan side in terms of whether they can be successful or not will be on their batting. They are likely to keep competitive through their bowlers in these conditions but they need to bat well. We saw on Friday the Netherlands be competitive with the ball but when push came to shove with the bat they were found wanting. Afghanistan have the talent with the bat but maybe one or two players are key and need to perform.
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Bangladesh look like they have their team pretty much picking itself but they do need to decide on one of the spinners as Mehidy Hasan and Nasum Ahmed look like they are battling for the one spot. Tamim Iqbal is not in the squad so he definitely doesn’t play.
Afghanistan are definitely going to make changes from their Asia Cup squad because Gulbadin Naib and Karim Jamat have been left out of the squad. Naveen-ul-Haq was in the CPL in the lead up to that tournament but he is fresh and ready for this one.
I’m a little surprised that we can get a 20.5 point performance line on Mujeeb Ur Rahman in this match. Admittedly he is mostly only a bowler and not a 3D cricketer that I like to take in this market but the line is so low that I find myself priced in really. That 20.5 equates to a wicket and a run and while he will bat down the order, Bangladesh are favourites to win this match so you would imagine there is more than half a chance that he gets to the crease.
This is a day game so dew won’t be an issue so it shouldn’t matter whether Afghanistan bowl first or second. We’ve seen the pitches so far just grip a little so Mujeeb shouldn’t be inconvenienced too much. Mujeeb has a decent record against Bangladesh. He has taken wickets in three of his last four ODIs against them with the one he didn’t take a wicket in being the one he only bowled seven overs. He has wickets in seven out of 10 ODIs against them and has batted in four of those games. With a catch being worth half of the total as well this line just looks too low for me to ignore, especially with the run of left-handers in this Bangladesh side.
Back M.Ur Rahman’s Performance – Over 20.5pts for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365