Group A: New Zealand v Bangladesh
Date: June 9 (Friday)
Venue: Cardiff Wales Stadium, Cardiff
30 matches; New Zealand 21 wins; Bangladesh 9 wins
Of the two teams, New Zealand have shown the better form, but that’s not saying much since they were beaten by 87 runs by England in their last outing. Bangladesh, though, have fared worse and were extremely lucky to get a point from their match against Australia, having been on the back foot throughout the contest only for rain to act as saviour.
The equation for both teams is the same now, both having one point each from two games. They don’t hold their fate in their hands, but they do control part of it, in the sense that they need to win to stay alive. Victory will mean the winner will move to three points, and they must then hope that Australia don’t win against England.
New Zealand have the classy pedigree of Kane Williamson and a good fast bowling attack, while Bangladesh’s batting has looked weak, Tamim Iqbal apart. Where Bangladesh suffer mainly in comparison to New Zealand though is in the bowling resources. Their pacers have been steady rather than threatening and even Mustafizur Rahman has not looked as potent. If they have to make a late play for the semifinals, Bangladesh will need the likes of him and Shakib Al Hasan to step up.
Cardiff was covered by a blanket of grey on the eve of the match, with some spells of rain too. The forecast is for the clouds to remain on Friday, though there are only two brief showers expected. The drainage at the Cardiff Wales Stadium is very good, so the chances of having a result look reasonable – though of course weather forecasts are about as reliable as Pakistan’s form in this part of the world.
The pitch won’t be the same one used for the England v New Zealand encounter, and is expected to not have too much in it for bowlers, though it might not be a complete belter either.
MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN v KANE WILLIAMSON
In his two innings so far, Kane Williamson has scored 100 and 87. He was run out the first time, and in the second, he got a brute of a snorter from Mark Wood that lifted very unexpectedly off a length. In other words, he’s looked undismissable in normal circumstances, and all that while maintaining an overall strike-rate of 95.89.
The one Bangladesh bowler who has the X-factor that can stop someone like Williamson is Mustafizur. He has bowled without luck so far in the tournament, and is still capable of those deadly changes of pace that have fooled the most well-set batsmen.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill
Guptill has gone two matches now without converting a start where he looked good for something bigger. The missed opportunity against England will rankle particularly, because he had done the initial hard work of seeing off fantastic spells from Jake Ball and Wood, but fell just when he looked like he was hitting his stride. Against Bangladesh, he has the best opportunity to redeem that, given that the overall quality of the attack isn’t near the level of Australia and England.
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan
No one among active cricketers has as great a claim to being their country’s greatest ever cricketer as Shakib does. But the man who has done so much to lift Bangladesh to the level where they have qualified for the Champions Trophy and are ranked sixth in the world has not come to the party he helped create. He has given up runs at 7.75 in his eight overs, and two visits to the crease have brought him only 39 runs. A must-win clash is the perfect occasion for him to revitalise himself.
WATCH OUT FOR…
Tim Southee has bowled well in both New Zealand’s games but gone under the radar. He was easily the best one on show against England, and had threatened against Australia too. If there is cloud cover and a bit of early nip in the pitch, he could prove to be more than a handful for the Bangladesh batsmen, with his ability to move the ball.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Neil Broom, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, James Neesham, Jeetan Patel, Luke Ronchi (wk), Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Mehedi Hasan Miraj, Mosaddek Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Sanzamul Islam, Sabbir Rahman, Shafiul Islam, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed.