Bangladesh and Pakistan in clash of stragglers

In a crucial ICC World Cup 2023 encounter, Bangladesh will lock horns against Pakistan at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Both teams enter this fixture after suffering heart-breaking defeats in the previous games. Pakistan lost by one wicket to South Africa while the Bangla Tigers were on the receiving end of a thumping 87-run defeat.

This has been a World Cup to forget for Bangladesh. After starting their campaign with a win against Bangladesh, they have lost five matches on the trot. In their previous game, they were bowled out for just 142 while chasing a target of 230 against Netherlands at the Eden Gardens. That loss has now pushed Bangladesh to 9th place on the table with a miserable net run rate of -1.338. They still have three games left to end the tournament on a high, but it will be difficult for them to pick themselves up from this low. 

Bangladesh’s batting just hasn’t clicked. A lot was expected from the likes of Litton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, and captain Shakib Al Hasan, but they just haven’t been able to step up in the big moments.

Shakib will be eager to leave a mark after a string of failures. His average of 43.28 against Pakistan in ODIs will perhaps give him the confidence to finally break the shackles. 

Mahmudullah has been their most consistent batter and is the only one to have scored a hundred in this competition for Bangladesh. However, he bats way too low down the order and is often left batting with the tail.

Among the bowlers, Shoriful Islam (8 wickets in 6 innings at an economy of 6.50) has stood out. It’s the spinners, though, who have been consistent. Shakib Al Hasan (7 wickets), Mehidy Hasan Miraz (6 wickets), and Mahedi Hasan (6 wickets) have all done a fantastic job. They have kept things tight and managed to snare wickets regularly. On this pitch, these three spinners, along with Mustafizur Rahman, will be quite a handful against the Pakistani batting unit.

Pakistan are coming off a heartbreaking one-wicket loss to South Africa in Chennai. Defending a target of 271 on a pitch that had spice, Pakistan’s seamers bowled with a lot of heart and were in the game right till the end. Unfortunately for them, South Africa managed to hold their nerves and won with 16 balls still remaining.

This loss means Pakistan have now lost four games in a row in the competition. The last game they won was against Sri Lanka on October 10, which now feels like an eternity ago.

If they were being honest with themselves, Pakistan have only themselves to be blame for the situation they find themselves in. Their batting has been inconsistent, and their bowling attack has let them down on most occasions.

Captain Babar Azam will have to lead from the front. The star batter has scored three fifties so far in the competition but hasn’t looked his usual self. However, he slowly seems to be getting there. We feel Babar will play a big knock in this game for Pakistan. 

Mohammad Rizwan, with 333 runs in 6 innings, has been the leading run-getter for the team. However, he has failed to get a big one in the last three matches and needs to get his act together for this must-win match.

Abdullah Shafique (264 runs in 5 innings at 52.80) will play an impactful innings in this match. He has looked the most sorted Pakistani batter and will enjoy batting on this surface.

One of the positives from the last match for Pakistan was the return to form of Shaheen Afridi. His spell of 3-45 from 10 overs helped Pakistan stay alive in the contest till the very end, and he is likely to make things difficult for Bangladesh’s batters. 

Mohammad Wasim Jr. and Haris Rauf were also impressive in that match against South Africa. Bangladesh’s batting unit is down on confidence right now, and this Pakistani pace attack might just feast on them here.

The average first innings score at Eden Gardens is 235. The highest total posted here is India’s mammoth 404-5 versus Sri Lanka in 2014. In recent times, it hasn’t been a high-scoring venue, as was evident in the match between Bangladesh and Netherlands here. After batting first, the Netherlands managed 229 on the board and later managed to bowl Bangladesh out for just 142. The team batting first in this match should look to set a target of around 270-280 runs.

Batting first is usually the safer bet at the Eden Gardens. Out of the 32 ODIs played here, 19 have been won by the team batting first. With the weather expected to be pleasant, the toss-winning team should bat first.

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