Bangladesh scent World T20 main draw
March 18, 2014
Start time 1930 local (1330 GMT)
Bangladesh have somewhat turned around their form in 2014, putting together three wins in a row in the last week. All three may have come against Associate Nations, but the last of those victories was necessary from the point of view of staying alive in the World T20. Their second game of Group A, against Nepal, will be yet another chance to reinstate the confidence within the team, and ensure a smooth passage to the main draw.
For Nepal however, the game against Bangladesh is what they have worked so hard for in the last 18 years. This is their first ever international match against a Test-playing nation, and one can only imagine how much they will be raring to have a crack at the hosts.
From their big win against Hong Kong on Sunday night, it became evident that their main batsmen and bowlers have the capacity to be mentally strong enough when they have to stand up. Gyanendra Malla and captain Paras Khadka added 80 runs for the third wicket, which recovered the innings from an iffy 36 for 2 to a strong 116 for 3.
Nepal would however look forward to Subash Khakurel and Sagar Pun to get them a better start, while Binod Bhandari and Sharad Vesawkar will be expected to push on a bit faster when their batting opportunities come. Nepal's bowling was great to watch too, particularly how well Khadka and Sompal Kami started with the new ball. Shakti Gauchan and Basant Regmi, the team's left-arm spinners, gave a good account of themselves as well.
One would expect Bangladesh to do well against left-arm spinners as well as a generally inexperienced attack. This could be one of the last few opportunities for their batsmen to gain a good habit of identifying areas in which they can keep hitting and finding boundaries. More importantly, Mushfiqur would want his top order to do the whole job, particularly Anamul Haque who has looked in good touch but seems to struggle to build on from a good innings.
Bangladesh's bowling too can push on, particularly the pace bowlers who racked up an impressive number of dot balls. They should bowl similarly against Nepal, but at the same time realise that T20 cricket is all about bowling good overs and not spells. Al-Amin Hossain bowled one poor over against Afghanistan and didn't get a bowl thereafter, so the attack would try to avoid such mishaps.
Nepal, however, are playing to create that mishap.
(including warm-up matches)
(Completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
Shakib Al Hasan will once again have the spotlight around him, having won the Man-of-the-Match award against Afghanistan. This was his first such award in almost a year, and with a central batting role in T20s, he will be expected to do even better against Nepal.
Shakti Gauchan bowled four fantastic overs and will be one to look out for from the Nepal line-up. His celebrations of wicket - said to inspired by footballers' goal celebrations- are also worth watching.
Mushfiqur has said he wouldn't like to change around too much as this match could confirm their berth to the next round. In any case, Mashrafe Mortaza and Tamim Iqbal will be monitored for their injuries.
Bangladesh (possible): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Anamul Haque, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 5 Sabbir Rahman, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Farhad Reza, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Al-Amin Hossain
Nepal have sounded positive about their team, and are likely to go with the tried and tested.
Nepal (possible): 1 Sagar Pun, 2 Subash Khakurel (wk), 3 Gyanendra Malla, 4 Paras Khadka (capt), 5 Binod Bhandari, 6 Sharad Vesawkar, 7 Naresh Budayair, 8 Basant Regmi, 9 Shakti Gauchan, 10 Sompal Kami, 11 Jitendra Mukhiya
Pitch and conditions
The Chittagong wicket has historically been a featherbed and is likely to be slow. It won't be as bouncy as the Mirpur wicket, so more runs can be expected. The weather is quite hot, so there will be a chance of some dew in the evening game.
Stats and trivia
"I have seen some of their matches on Youtube. But we should think of how we can improve our cricket rather than what they will do. If we can improve, we won't have much of a problem."
Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan on Nepal.
"There will be some section of people [cheering us], we had very good crowd support today, so we will be only hearing the Nepali supporters, not the Bangladeshi supporters."
Nepal captain Paras Khadka is banking on his team's fan following to spur the players on
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here