Can Mashrafe enjoy another limousine ride?

Saleque Sufi

In 2005 at Cardiff when Bengal tigers won its only ODI against Kangaroos Mash was only 21. He is the only surviving member of that victorious team. He remembers taking the wicket of Adam Gilchrist LBW for naught in his first over and joy ride in a limousine afterwards.

12 years later when Bangladesh meets Australia in a do or die encounter at Oval Mash leads hungry tigers capable of bringing back Cardiff memory in Oval. Bangladesh lost its first match to host England despite posting impressive 305 runs. Australia possibly escaped losing its first match to Tasman neighbors New Zealand in rain ruined first match.

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They also equally need a win to keep their mission going. Australia has breath taking fast bowling resource Bangladesh has in form aggressive batsmen. It will be a day night encounter. If weather does not interfere a great contest is in the offing. Winning the match is equally important for both team.

For Australia the win will put them firmly in the race for the title. The last match against the host will not be easy for them. If Bangladesh lose again that will put paid to their mission ICC Champions trophy 2017.

The last match against New Zealand will be non-consequential for them. Australia arguably possesses the best pace attack at the moment. Hazelwood, Starc, Cummings and Pattinson if they get going together can destroy any batting on assisting surfaces. But pace may not bother Bangladesh that much.

Tamim, Soumya, Sabbir, Mushfiqur, Mahmudullah like balls coming to the bat. But it is seam movement at pace and swing that often creates problem. Bangladeshis had problems of playing too many strokes too early. But against England Tamim and Soumya batted smartly early on and when ball was not moving Tamim and Mushfiqur batted exceedingly well.

Hazelwood is Glen McGrath type steady fast bowler. He bowls at pace mostly wicket to wicket. Starc attacks in the off stump channel at probing length. I do not think Cummins or Pattinson would cause unplayable issues for Bangladesh. Australia may play Zampa.

Bangladesh should play him well. We hope Bangladesh would not sacrifice 5 bowlers in the quest of additional batsman. If 7 batsmen cannot serve purpose 8 cannot. Selectors should play Mahmudullah at number three where he was a success in ICC World Cup 2015. Sabbir can bat at 6 or 7 to bolster the late middle order for taking advantage of last power play.

That will allow Mehedi Miraz back in the team. He is finding his feet in batting as well. Against Australia his bowling will be useful. He may even open the bowling attack alongside his captain Mashrafe against Warner and Flinch. Against Australia ace all-rounder Shakib will be expected to deliver both with bat and ball.

His lean patch is bothering Bangladesh over the past few matches. He is too good a player not finding his form soon. Another good opening partnership would allow quality middle order –Mahmudullah –Mushfiqur –Shakib –Sabbir –Mosaddek – Miraz produce significantly substantial score to defend. Miraz can trouble Warner with his variation and accuracy and who knows Mash like 2005 can remove Warner early as he did another south paw blaster Adam Gilchrist.

Mustafiz should enjoy bowling under flood light. We are not sure whether Rubel or Taskin would be better choice against Australia. Taskin failed bowling at right channel and leaked too many runs. Warner, Flinch, Smith, Henrique, Head and Maxwell cannot be intimidated with pace. If Warner and Smith can be removed early Shakib, Miraz, Mosaddek can strangle the middle order.

But it is easier said than done. Most of the Aussie players have come fresh from great IPL season. For me bowling needs to deliver for Bangladesh Especially Shakib and Mustafiz for Bangladesh proving competitive. Even another 300 may not be defended if bowlers again fail to bowl at right channel. Bangladesh must have much better match strategy, horses for courses players picked and must adjust strategy according to changing circumstances of the match.

They have nothing to lose playing against a very formidable opposition. In batting someone has to put up his hand and do what Ashraful did at Cardiff 12 years from now. Bangladesh must also have ball and bat much better in the last 10 overs power play which is so important when matches get tighter.

Australia is much superior side than Bangladesh. But that does not matter. New Bangladesh can do and undo many things in cricket now. They do not play often. Australia is finding nothing worrying playing in terrorist panicked London .But they suspended trip to Bangladesh at the last minute last year. In 2015 the World Cup group match at Woolloongabba, Brisbane was rained out.

We Bangladeshi Australians have divided allegiance. Country that is so hospitable and generous to us cannot be totally abandoned. Our heart goes for Bangladesh but head to Australia. Definitely Australia deserves playing in the final of this tournament. Let us hope that better team on the day win.

A win today would give tremendous boost to Bangladesh cricket. Celebrated Bangladesh cricketer of the past now ICC executive Aminul Islam was telling Bangladesh has the most experienced ODI players in the tournament.

My team tiger for match Tamim, Soumya, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur, Sabbir, Shakib, Mosaddek, Miraz, Mashrafe, Rubel and Mustafiz.