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Super Eight: Australia vs Bangladesh

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For once, this won't be billed as a 'Best vs Worst' game. Perhaps Australia may still lay claim to be the best, but a billion people in the sub-continent will cringe when I say that Bangladesh are far from being the worst team in this competition.Having said that, there is little doubt as to which way this match is going. Whatever may be the state of the Australian bowling line up, they are batting with such muscle and brawn, it is difficult to see them not mowing down the Bangla attack.

A defeat here is not likely to affect Australia's chances of getting into the semis. However, when the underdog manages to even win one round against the heavyweight boxer, it is good for the game. So let's see if there are any holes in the aussie defence through which the Bangladeshis may sneak in a right hook.


Kangaroo might


The pattern of the Aussies in this tournament, possibly having recognized their bowling weaknesses, has been to bat the opposition out of the game. Their projected score stands at  251 runs, which by itself is the second highest of the lot (to know which team has the highest, call Chappel/Sachin/Dravid/Sehwag). However, the Aussies haven't really bothered to stick to potential, and have gone beyond the 300 mark each time.
 
Hayden and Ponting has been the man in form, but the bad news for Bangla is even if they do get then out quick, they face the man who, on paper, is their most useful contributor - Micheal Clarke. Surprisingly, Clarke's deviation from the team's averages (13.52 runs more than the Aussie average) is one point more than that of Hayden's (12.7). and a shade more than that of Ponting's (13.52).
Despite averaging a stunning 37.86 runs above the team's average, Hussey hasn't exactly been in top form. This is partly because he comes in at the death, when there is nothing to do but to try and smash the bowler. Once again, a good case for Hussey to go up the order - partly to utilize his talent more, partly to give him a chance to play himself into form against Bangla.

Should Bangladesh bat first or chase?

But the bottomline is, if Australia bat first, the best possible situation Bangladesh could find themself in is Mortaza having utilized the early movement, reducing the Aussies to 50 odd for 3. They can still get up from there and post 300 plus. Bangladesh's maximum chasing capacity is 251.
So Bangladesh's real chance is only in Australia batting second.

An upset may, may just happen if....

Bangladesh's biggest wins have some patterns within them, such as

i) Batting first, putting up between 220 - 240, pressuring the opposition batting line up into a free fall

ii) Taking quick wickets, leaving the opposition at 80 -4, 100- 5

iii) An overall team bowling effort, with wickets being distributed between three to four bowlers ( most notably, Mortaza, Tapash Baisya and Mohammad Rafique), and everyone looking to get their chunk of the victim's flesh.

No team so far has been able to fully explore the Aussie bowling weakness because invariably, they come in looking at a 330-350 score, and falter straightaway.
However, if Bangladesh can bat first, they will have no such skyscrapers looming over them, and will be in a position to try and push a 260-270 score. And they certainly seem to have enough batting talent to do that.
 
There is no way the strong Aussie middle order - Clarke, Symonds, Hussey - will crumble if they are batting first with little or no pressure. The only way they may flop, is if they come into a pressure cooker situation.

To do that, if Mortaza and Syed Rasel can get their swing going and pick up a couple of quick wickets, we will come to a scenario where the Aussie batsmen will come in looking at a potential second embarassment against Bangla, this time on a world stage, and facing the slow, suffocating spin of Rafique.
 
Nice, dreamy prospect, isn't it? Don't bet on it though.....there's a reason why it is 'dreamy'.




















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