Australia v Bangladesh, Group F, Cape Town September 15, 2007

Blockbuster in the offing if Bangladesh batsmen fire

Mohammad Ashraful knows a thing or two about taking on Australia © Getty Images

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Twenty20 cricket is that in such a shortened format, no team can be taken for granted. The Australians were at the receiving end of one of the biggest upsets in this decade, going down to Zimbabwe in Cape Town, and it's the element of surprise people will look forward to when they take guard against Bangladesh in the first part of the double-header at Newlands.

The manner in which Aftab Ahmed and Mohammad Ashraful detonated West Indies in Johannesburg and nearly took the South Africans to the cleaners has proved that they are no pushovers against the best. The defeat against South Africa will force them to rethink their batting strategy. Australia overcame their rustiness with a crushing eight-wicket win against England and that could well be a sneak preview for what is yet to come.

Bat play : High-adrenalin willow-bashing gets the crowds pouring in, and in that department, Bangladesh have not disappointed. Ashraful and Aftab knocked West Indies out of the tournament with fearless hitting, and the crowds gasped at the way Aftab threw his bat at everything in Cape Town. One would have to wonder what would have been had the batsmen tempered their aggression after the initial blitz. Nazimuddin's twin failures at the top could leave an opening for fellow newcomers like Junaid Siddique.

The results of Ricky Ponting's talk of not respecting the game enough after the Zimbabwe debacle reflected in the way Australia chased down England's modest target of 136 with over five overs to spare. The openers, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist have fired and the middle order will be waiting to have a go.

Wrecking ball: Mashrafe Mortaza has been a disappointment so far, adding to the burden on Syed Rasel to check the flow of runs. Ashraful will continue to rely heavily on his spinners, and Abdur Razzak's ability to fire the ball in at a flat trajectory will be a useful weapon to curb hitters like Hayden from stepping down the track.

Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Bracken shared the spoils with three wickets each against England and also kept the runs down. Brad Hogg, after a successful World Cup is due to get a game and with the business end of the tournament set to begin, they'd be better off bringing on the specialists, instead of relying on part-timers like Brad Hodge.

Keep your eye on: Andrew Symonds. There may be little to differentiate him with the rest in a team of big hitters but his presence bound to have a demoralising effect on the bowlers, given his ability to stand at the crease and hoick balls out of the ground. Following his 31 against Zimbabwe, a big score is lurking around the corner somewhere.

Shop Talk: "We beat them [Australia] in a 50-over game in Cardiff, so in Twenty20 cricket we still have a very good chance", said a confident Ashraful after the loss to South Africa. Ashraful has the license to fire off pre-match salvos like that after masterminding that victory two years ago. Bangladesh have only gained in confidence as a team since then so the pressure will be on Australia.

Pitching it right: With rain in the air, the pitch at Newlands should give the bowlers the kind of purchase they're looking for. The South Africa- Bangladesh was played on a dry surface with plenty of cracks, assisting both the seamers and spinners so one can expect similar conditions.


Australia (probable) Adam Gilchrist (wk), Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting (capt), Andrew Symonds, Brad Hodge, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Stuart Clark, Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Mitchell Johnson

Bangladesh (probable) Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique, Aftab Ahmed, Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Shakib Al Hasan, Alok Kapali, Farhad Reza, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mashrafe Mortaza, Syed Rasel, Abdur Razzak

Kanishkaa Balachandran is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo