Australia, Bangladesh fight for survival
Monday, March 21, 2016
Start time 1930 local (1400 GMT)
Following the wintry weather of Dharamsala, Australia hope to thaw their World Twenty20 campaign in the warmer surrounds of Bangalore. Faced with an opponent in Bangladesh who have never beaten them in the format, and aided by the harsh lessons of their opening game against a crafty and resourceful New Zealand, Steven Smith's team will be confident of doing so. Nevertheless, the World T20 is a fleeting experience - the coach Darren Lehmann has said "it's so quick you haven't got too much time to think about it" - and one false move will mean virtual elimination inside two games.
Continuity has long been a problem for Australia in T20, and the New Zealand defeat raised the prospect of still more shuffling. Smith's men have been almost universally blind-sided by the tournament's preponderance of slow and turning surfaces well removed from the kinds of inviting surfaces thy have grown used to in the IPL, and must quickly find a way to prosper against the spinning ball given Bangladesh will not be short of slow men. Team balance is also an issue, with Aaron Finch on the fringes of the team and a second spinner in Ashton Agar who was seemingly picked without much expectation from the selectors that he would be needed. A little stability would not go astray, given how the Australians must now try to build momentum over the next two games before they meet India in the final qualifying match.
Bangladesh have meanwhile been waylaid by the banning of Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny for illegal bowling actions. Aside from the trauma of being ejected from the competition, they have presented the coach Chandika Hathurusingha with his own selection conundrum about who comes in. The batting allrounder Shuvagata Hom and left-arm spinner Saqlain Sajib are their likely replacements, the latter chosen for the first time. The fact both men bowl spin will be a reminder of what this tournament is calling for: by the end of Monday night Australia and Bangladesh will know whether they stand a chance of finding the right combination for it.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
A top score of 44 in five innings since Australia clicked into T20 mode represents something of a slump for Steven Smith, the first real dip of his Australian captaincy. It has maintained a mediocre T20 record, and he will hope not to be found wandering down the pitch to be stumped again as he was against New Zealand. Smith has made a lot of the idea that Australia have a modular and flexible batting and bowling line-up for this event, but the lack of stability seems to have affected his batting and the confidence of others. Joe Root and Virat Kohli have put their stamp on this competition already: as a vaunted contemporary, Smith needs to do likewise for Australia.
It has been a long time since Mushfiqur Rahim made a decent T20 score for Bangladesh - not since his 47 against Australia at the last World T20 in 2014 in fact. At his best a wicketkeeper batsman of considerable verve, Mushfiqur's diminishing returns have been unsettling for his country's middle order, meaning others have had to take up a little too much slack. Hathurusingha has suggested the Mushfiqur is over thinking things somewhat, and a clear-headed display against Australia would provide a welcome change.
Darren Lehmann has opened up the possibility that Aaron Finch may be squeezed back into the side, while Ashton Agar could pay for his rusty over costing 18 against New Zealand by making way for Josh Hazlewood.
Australia (probable): 1 Shane Watson, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 David Warner, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 James Faulkner, 8 Peter Nevill (wk), 9 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Bangladesh must find replacements for the banned duo of Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny, both ruled out due to questions over their bowling actions raised in the earlier qualifying match against Netherlands.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Mohammad Mithun, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Al-Amin Hossain, 10 Mustafizur Rahman 11 Abu Hider
Pitch and conditions
Though theirs will be the second match in as many days at the ground after Sunday's meeting between Sri Lanka and West Indies, Australia and Bangladesh are not expecting as much turn as seen in other matches this tournament. After inspecting the pitch, Smith said it reminded him of an IPL surface, offering a little more grass and perhaps pace.
Stats and trivia
- Australia have won all three T20I meetings with Bangladesh, most recently a consolation victory at the World T20 in 2014 after both sides had been knocked out
- Before this tournament, Bangalore had only hosted one T20I, a low scoring encounter won by Pakistan against India in 2012
"We're in different conditions to what a lot of us have played in. A lot of us have played in the IPL over here but you don't quite often see wickets that are spinning like these ones."Australia captain Steven Smith
"Hathuru knows a lot about the Australian players. We will be seeking a lot of tips from him. The plans are there but the main thing is to execute them. We know that Australia can destroy any team."
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza on the inputs of his coach Chandika Hathurusinghe
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig