Australia v Bangladesh
Thursday, 10:30 – Trent Bridge
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event
Are you really convinced by Australia?
I'm not convinced. I should be. Australia have won four out of five games with their only defeat coming against India. A win against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge would take them back to the top of the table. They have beaten Pakistan and Sri Lanka in their last two games but are yet to settle on their best playing XI and could come a cropper.
It would be easy to concentrate of the star men and any side with David Warner, Steven Smith, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc in their team are more than capable of winning matches. But Usman Khawaja has been poor with the bat and is struggling against the short ball.
Leggie Adam Zampa was dropped for the last game and a side without a potent spinner will struggle to win this World Cup. And the seam department behind Starc and Cummins has been inconsistent with Marcus Stoinis, Jason Behrendorff, Kane Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile not providing sufficient quality.
Captain Aaron Finch is leading by example with the bat, has been tactically sound and benefits from having one of the best opening bowling partnerships in the competition. Starc has taken 13 wickets and Cummins 11 at a meagre 4.48 runs per over. Keeping the pair fit and firing is crucial to Australia's chances.
Hungry Tigers have sharp teeth
Bangladesh have won two and lost two with another match abandoned. The two losses can be excused as they have come against quality opposition in England and New Zealand and they pushed the Kiwis throughout. They will be packed with confidence after chasing down 322 to beat West Indies by seven wickets in their last game.
Shakib Al Hasan has been one of the stars of the tournament with 384 runs in his four innings so far and Liton Das impressed in his first match with an unbeaten 94. The pair added a match-winning 189, a tournament record for the highest unbroken fourth wicket partnership.
English coach Steven Rhodes is a level-headed sort and it is unlikely the Tigers will chop and change and Australia need to beware of their quality. Often referred to as a ‘suprise package' this Bangladesh side has enjoyed plenty of ODI success and if Australia underestimate them they will be made to pay.
While the batsman take headlines the Bangladesh bowlers have made decent contributions. Mohammad Saifuddin took three wickets against West Indies to take his tournament haul to nine and Mustafizur Rahman‘s three scalps sees him on seven wickets for the competition. Add in the spin of Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Shakib it is a decent attack for skipper Mashrafe Mortaza to play with.
Despite Australia's lofty league position they face a tough end to the group phase and will need to beat Bangladesh to avoid a nerve-jangling run-in. Their last three matches see them face England, New Zealand and South Africa, which will not be easy. And I think Bangladesh could give them a severe test at Trent Bridge on Thursday and should not be anywhere near as big as [6.20] to take the points.
Australia have won 18 of their 20 previous encounters with Bangladesh and have never lost to them at a World Cup. The teams met in the 1999 and 2007 events and Australia won by comfortable seven wicket and 10 wicket margins, but this is a more mature Bangladesh team and there is a first time for everything. In 2005, Bangladesh beat Australia by five wickets at Cardiff in the only game the sides have played on these shores. That result was deemed a huge shock. A win on Thursday would be less surprising.
Aaron Finch is enjoying an impressive tournament as captain and belted 153 off 132 balls against Sri Lanka after notching 82 against Pakistan. His total of 343 tournament runs have come in typically pugnacious style with a strike rate of 110.64 as he has plundered powerplay runs. At 3/1 second favourite to be top Aussie batsman he packs plenty of appeal.
Finch's opening partner David Warner is favourite at 5/2 after hitting one hundred and another two fifties. Warner's 281 runs at a strike-rate of 76.98, have come slowly by his standards whilst Steven Smith‘s 243 run haul included his third fifty against Sri Lanka. Finch is my tip but the bet in this market has to be take from one of these three men.
Shakib Al Hasan is a star in his home nation and is showing the world why at this World Cup. In stellar form he has posted centuries in the Tigers' last two games after making two fifties earlier on in the tournament. His runs have come at an average of 128.00 and a healthy 103.78 strike-rate as he has held the Bangladesh top order together. He is a man that cannot be ignored in the Top Bangladesh batsman markets at 11/4.
Liton Das at 0/2 could appeal after scoring 94 in the last match and experienced opener Tamim Iqbal is creeping back to form, but Shakib is taking the headlines and my stake here.
The Man of the Match market has become one of my favourite betting options. Pick a few star turns to making winning contributions as generous prices and take a nibble. I'm going with Mitchell Starc at 9/1, Shakib al Hasan 12/1 and Glenn Maxwell 14/1.