World Cup 2019, Australia v Bangladesh: Why should Australia be wary of the Bangladesh challenge?
With four wins from five matches, Australia are placed second spot on the points table while Bangladesh are at the 5th position with five points from as many matches. Both the teams will come into the contest with a whole lot of confidence with morale-boosting victories against Sri Lanka and West Indies respectively.
Australia defeated Sri Lanka by 87 runs as Aaron Finch led the way with a swashbucking 153 while Bangladesh's seven-wicket win came courtesy of Shakib Al Hasan's magnificent unbeaten 124 and a handy 69-ball unbeaten 94 from Liton Das.
Even though Australia hold the aces coming into this game, there is no reason why the defenfing champions should treat the Bangladesh challenge as a meek one.
Ace Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan is going through a sensational phase in his career. During the first match against South Africa, he scored a 75 off 84 balls and took the wicket of dangerous David Miller, as he clinched the 'man of the match' award.
Even though Bangladesh lost the second match against New Zealand, Shakib scored 64 runs and took 2 wickets in the game. Against England, Shakib's knock of 121, as he batted through pain was a bright spark in Bangladesh's chase of 387.
Having claimed a crucial point due to a washed out encounter against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh needed a strong show against a in-form West Indies bowling unit. Bowling first, Shakib picked up two wickets from his eight overs as the Jason Holder-led unit put up 321/8 on the board.
Chasing a mammoth 322 in their path to register a record win, Bangladesh were rocked in the middle overs as the openers and Mushfiqur Rahim were back in the hut with the score on 133/3. Liton Das, making his World Cup debut walked in to join Shakib Al Hasan.
The onus was on Shakib to ensure that Bangladesh remained in the chase and the ace all-rounder did not dissappoint.
Shakib shouldered a majority of the responsibility as he farmed strike and peppered the boundaries with some glorious shots. Das, on the other hand, was given the license to go big and the alliance worked wonders as Bangladesh chased down the target in just 41.3 overs.
With the win against West Indies sure to be a shot in the arm, Bangladesh will be keen to put up a show against Australia. With 384 runs from just four matches, Shakib Al Hasan will yet again hold the key.
For Australia, the biggest key will be to get rid of Bangladesh's top five nice and early. With the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan in some top nick, their contribution could go a long way in adding pressure on Australia.
In four matches, Bangladesh's batting unit has put up scores of 320+ in two games, including a massive run-chase against West Indies and 330 against South Africa, which happened to be Bangladesh's highest ever ODI score.
On the bowling front, Mohammad Saifuddin has made the most of the pace and zip on offer and has troubled batsmen with his swing at a lively pace. With Aaron Finch, David Warner and Steven Smith scoring the bulk of Australia's runs, Bangladesh could certainly be in with a chance of causing an upset if the top three are sent back early.
Australia will undoubtedly walk into the contest with the 'favorites' tag, but one might not be surprised if Bangladesh repeat the famous victory they enjoyed against Australia during the Natwest series in 2005.
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