Two depleted teams face off in tomorrow’s marquee clash. Bangladesh takes on England in the port city of Chittagong, at the time when both of teams are in hot waters. The hosts suffered an embarrassing nine-wicket defeat in the hands of a weakened West Indies team a few days ago. While England, who seemed to have gained some momentum after the win against South Africa last Sunday have been dented with the injuries of Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad.
It remains to be seen who comes out on top; in a battle which could change the course of Group A. Bangladesh have only won 1 out of 3 matches that they have played so far in the World Cup, so this is a must-win game for Bangladesh or else they are virtually knocked out of the competition. England have also won 2 out of 4 matches so far, and a win here would assure them a quarterfinal berth. But if they lose, they have to beat West Indies in their last group match by a huge margin to qualify. So I am sure England would want to wrap it all up tomorrow itself.
If Bangladesh has to win, they have to rely on their bowlers to do major damage. England’s batting looks fragile without Pietersen and even if Morgan comes in for this game, it does not reduce the pressure on skipper Andrew Strauss to score runs at the top of the order. Their bowling might be hit severely with the exit of Broad, yet Bangladesh does not boast of a strong batting line-up and I would not be surprised to see England’s bowlers, especially Graeme Swann have a field day just as they did against the Proteas.
My hunch is that England are still the firm favourites to reach the victory post tomorrow. But, Bangladesh can never be counted out these days, so they can take advantage of England’s vulnerability as this World Cup has shown that anything is possible.
Bangladesh (probable): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Shakib al Hasan (Captain), Raqibul Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim (WK), Abdur Razzak, Naeem Islam, Shaiful Islam, Rubel Hossain.
England (probable): Andrew Strauss (Captain), Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior (WK), Eoin Morgan, Michael Yardy, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Tim Bresnan, Ajmal Shahzad.
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