The last week of the league matches in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 takes on a curvy roller-coaster ride as the contenders fancy their chances into making it to last four.
The tournament amidst high intensity and classic rivalry in the previous week look to book its maiden entry into the knockout stages and get into serious business. Looking at the points table from a positive perspective, it has turned out to be a mixture of journey from the different parts of the cricketing world.
The Oceania sub-region comprising of Australia and NZ have dominated the tournament bagging 7 and 5 of their 8 games played so far in the competition. On the other hand, it’s been a one-man show for the Asian sub-continent as India aim to seal their semifinals spot today after their showdown at Birmingham when they clash against the Bangladeshi Tigers. Nations not dependent on other game results at this point of the competition will consider themselves lucky as they are the ones in charge of their respective ships sailing towards their respective landmark.
A penultimate clash between India and Bangladesh will be more than just a fight for the last four berth. Virat Kohli and boys seek immediate recovery and gain maximum from their last couple of games against Bangladesh and Srilanka, as finishing top 2 will be the primary motive for the Men in Blue after a minor setback against the hosts.
Mortaza-led Tigers aim to give a perfect end to the script against the sub continental rivals, already having defeated Afghanistan and a victory against India and Pakistan in their last 2 will not only ensure a white-wash in the Asian continent, but will also strengthen their chances of making it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, improving their 2015 status of making it to the Quarter-Finals.
Revenge would be a small terminology for the Bangladeshi fans and cricketers as the sport in the nation has crossed the milestone and expectation has been increased on the shoulders of the boys. From creating upset in 2007 World Cup to their achievement in the last edition, Bangladesh has successfully registered their name among the big guns of the game. These guns certainly look ahead to fire at the right moment and leave aside the calculations part for later.
India, on the other hand is currently 2nd in points table with 11 points from seven games look to first ensure their SF spot and then aim prepare their strategy ahead. A shaky middle-order and unstable opening will add further woes to the Indian cricket if not taken charge of early. Though the Indian bowlers have been largely dependent on Bumrah for preventing the excessive leakage of runs, Shami has been phenomenal with a 5-fer and a hat-trick in his previous two outings.
With Vijay Shankar being ruled out on an immediate notice, the bowling unit will certainly eye on a partnership among them as has been a case in the competition. Virat and the team management won’t mind only one Indian bowler to feature in the Top 10 wicket-takers of the tournament unless the combination proves to be lethal weapon for the opposition.
The bowling unit, aware of the strong prowess in the batting line-up of Tigers comprising of a strong middle-order (Shakib-Al-Hasan – Mushfiqur Rahim- Mahamudullah) who gave a tough fight to the table-toppers, Australia registering their highest score in the ODI (333-8) will aim for providing regular breakthroughs and thus preventing any strong partnerships for the Tigers resulting in a similar situation.
With scores of 300+ against the deadly bowling combination of Australia and South Africa already in the tournament, with a win against the latter, Mortaza led Bangladesh will certainly have the odds and the predictor percentage of win tilting towards them in the high-intensity encounter scheduled against Men in Blue. The captain, being the focussed link for the opposition, grabbing a single scalp in 6 games so far will certainly boost the confidence in the Tiger’s camp to find the lost zip and more importantly stay alive and fancy their chances in the tournament.
Despite facing their first ever defeat against England by a margin of 31 runs, the management staff and Virat Kohli might look to adjust Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja in the playing XI. The pace trio of Bhuvi-Shami-Bumrah will be highly focused upon keeping the Semi-Finals and Finals in mind.
Heavily criticized middle-order of the Indian batting line-up for the absence of match-winners can see a major turnaround with Dinesh Karthik finding a place in the playing XI against Bangladesh. The batting coach, Sanjay Bangar hinted both Bhuvneshwar and Jadeja in contention of Playing XI, praising the medium-pacer to be useful for the team in the middle-order too. It has been observed that the hosts- England playing with 4 front-liners including Ben Stokes as their fifth option, a similar strategy could be well-adopted by India today.
Predicted XI for India
KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli ©, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Japrit Bumrah
Predicted XI for Bangladesh
Liton Das, Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Soumya Sarkar, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mohammed Saifuddin, Mehidy Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza ©, Mustafizur Rahim.