Rattled Ireland face Bangladesh test in must-win
Friday, March 11, 2016
Start time 1930 local (1400 GMT)
The format of the qualifying stages of the World T20 means that Ireland have one step out of the door already, following their shock two-wicket defeat to Oman on Wednesday. But given how Bangladesh too were rattled by the Netherlands despite the eight-run win, Ireland should be positive about making a comeback.
And if that is not enough, Ireland will be playing against a team that has two of its bowlers' actions being questioned by the ICC. The coach Chandika Hathurusingha hit back by saying he also questions the ICC on the matter, but the news will only make Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny look over their shoulder when they bowl on Friday.
Ireland's other advantage at this point is the fact that they have experienced playing in the late evening in Dharamsala and how dew becomes a factor. The manner in which the ball kept slipping out of Max Sorensen's grip in that fateful final over was enough suggestion that the team defending a total must have more than enough on the board.
They have the batting to do it, but they must realise the value of putting less pace on the ball so that they can benefit from a generally slow pitch. The inclusion of George Dockrell could remedy this problem in their pace-heavy bowling attack.
They will first however have to deal with the in-form Tamim Iqbal. He forced the issue once he was hitting them well, and until that happened, he was taking a lot of singles and twos. The field often spread for him and, for a change in a T20 innings, Tamim mostly hit the gaps. He was smart too, by hitting straight most of the time, and he has always been very good at hitting through the off-side in-field.
The other Bangladesh batsmen who have been struggling to either start well (Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim) or capitalise on the start (Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman) can take a tip or two from Tamim's innings. If Bangladesh are to knock out Ireland, a more wholesome batting effort will be required given that their bowling attack could yet be depleted.
Ireland LLWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
It was not just because of his 34-ball 38, the team's highest score in their shock defeat to Oman. Gary Wilson also took the limelight for his Superman-like save on the boundary in the dying stages, saving his side five runs. More runs and such saves would be required against Bangladesh.
Tamim Iqbal batted against the Netherlands like he did in the Pakistan Super League by starting off with a lot of singles and then finding the boundaries. Bangladesh would want him to follow up with another big one against Ireland.
Bangladesh will still wait on Mustafizur Rahman's fitness and while the batting line-up doesn't really require a change, left-arm quick Abu Hider could be called up if the team is looking to give Taskin Ahmed some time off with his bowling action being questioned by the ICC.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Al-Amin Hossain, 10 Arafat Sunny, 11 Taskin Ahmed
Left-arm spinner George Dockrell should return in place of one of the pace bowlers given the conditions in Dharamsala siding with the spinners.
Ireland (probable) 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Gary Wilson, 4 Niall O'Brien (wk), 5 Kevin O'Brien, 6 Andrew Poynter, 7 Andy McBrine, 8 Max Sorensen, 9 Tim Murtagh/George Dockrell, 10 Boyd Rankin, 11 Craig Young
Pitch and conditions
The spinners will have a say despite the pitch being generally flat and good for batting. The weather forecast however isn't great as rain is in the radar on Friday evening.
Stats and trivia
- Shakib Al Hasan is 21 runs away from becoming the first Bangladeshi batsman to reach 1,000 T20I runs. Tamim Iqbal is close behind too, needing 58 runs to reach the same milestone
- Bangladesh has a 3-1 win-loss record over Ireland in T20Is but their last game was in July 2012
"Our bowlers are doing pretty well over the last few months. If our batsmen fire as a group, we can put a good score on this ground. Then, always, our bowling is our strength."
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusingha
"It's not the first time our backs have been against the wall. We've been in bad situations before and come out on top. We've got a pretty decent record against Bangladesh. We're really looking forward to playing this."
Ireland's Gary Wilson
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo