A match crucial to quarter-final qualification
February 24, 2011
February 25, Mirpur
Start time 14:30 local time (08:30 GMT)
For the last week, it has been somewhat quiet in Dhaka, but come Friday it won't be so. On paper, this is a match between two lowly ranked sides in the ODI hierarchy, but it will have huge implications in terms of progress to the next round. Bangladesh know it will be near impossible to make the quarter-finals, something the passionate fans and the team want desperately, if they fail to beat Ireland. Ireland also harbour ambitions of making the next round, and they know this is their best chance of beating a Test side. They also know they will need to beat at least two of them if they are to extend their stay in the event.
The implications of this game, however, are deeper than that. On one side is a team many believe got Test status too early and too easily, and is still struggling to justify it 11 years on. On the other side is a team many believe has done enough to at least merit a full-time ODI status: Ireland have beaten Bangladesh in the two major events the teams have played each other in. With Ireland also rests the flag of the beleaguered Associate nations, because they have been the best Associate side over the last four years or so.
Bangladesh might have lost to Ireland in the world events, but they will take heart from having beaten them 3-0 the only time they have met each other in Bangladesh. A similar trap - a low and slow pitch - is likely to be laid. Given the conditions will obviously suit the Bangladesh spin army, and the kind of crowd that this match will attract - something Ireland will never have encountered before - the hosts will start favourites. That said, it will be tough to keep a spirited side down, a side that gets one chance in four years to show the world what it is capable of. That is motivation enough.
Form guide(Most recent first)
Pitch and conditions
Expect a surface that will assist the Bangladesh spinners. It might be difficult to prepare a square turner in Mirpur, but it is likely to stay low. The expected dew played a role in Shakib Al Hasan's decision to put India in last week - a tactic that backfired - and Shakib says he isn't expecting much dew now. He said there hasn't been much dew around. William Porterfield, the Ireland captain, though, said there was a little bit of dew when the team practised under lights two nights before the match.
Watch out for…
Tamim Iqbal struggled against India while the other two left-hand batsmen in the top order got off to good starts. Tamim decided to fight, and didn't hit out. One school of thought suggests that is just the kind of defeatist mentality Bangladesh need to get rid of - the tendency of batsmen going for batting practice when the target is big. The other school of thought, Bangladesh's, suggests Tamim started hitting the ball well by the end of the innings. Tamim said he was feeling better about his form after that scratchy knock, and we can expect the real Tamim in the next game.
Ed Joyce is back in green. After playing a crucial role in Ireland's qualification for the 2007 World Cup, Joyce chose to play for England and pursue a Test career, which is not possible with Ireland. He didn't savour the journey his home team embarked on in the Caribbean, nor has he managed to represent England in Tests. Now he is back, and is welcomed with open arms. "If I can bring something in terms of calmness in the middle of the innings where, perhaps, it wasn't there before, that would be nice to offer," he told Irish Times last week.
Bangladesh have had injury scares coming into the match, but Imrul Kayes is fit despite getting hit in the forearm in the nets on Wednesday. He batted in the nets on match eve, and will open with Tamim. However, Shafiul Islam, who took a bad fall during fielding practice on Wednesday, is not a sure starter. That could prompt Bangladesh to think more of their traditional strength, and perhaps go with four spinners. There has also been talk that Mohammad Ashraful might be back, but at No. 7, as a Powerplay specialist.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Raqibul Hasan, 7 Mohammad Ashraful, 8 Mahmudullah, 9 Naeem Islam/Suhrawadi Shuvo, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Rubel Hossain.
Ireland will be happy to welcome back Boyd Rankin (coming back from injury) and Joyce (coming back from England). That gives them real decisions to make when they sit to pick the XI, but expect two spinners in it.
Ireland (probable): 1 William Porterfield (capt), 2 Paul Stirling, 3 Andre Botha, 4 Ed Joyce, 5 Niall O'Brien (wk), 6 Kevin O'Brien, 7 Andrew White, 8 John Mooney, 9 Trent Johnston, 10 Boyd Rankin, 11 George Dockrell/Albert van der Merwe.
Try picking the XIs for tomorrow's game by playing Team Selector.
Stats and trivia
- Bangladesh lead the head-to-head against Ireland 4-2.
- In the 2007 World Cup, Ireland had only two professional cricketers; this time they have only two who don't play cricket full time.
- Since August 2009, Tamim has averaged 37 as opposed to a career average of 30, and has gone at a strike-rate of 94, which is also a huge improvement over his career strike-rate of 79. Two of his three centuries have come in this period.
"[Ireland might have beaten us at world events], but when they played at Mirpur in 2008, we beat them three games in a row. So we have the home advantage. I don't think they like to play in these conditions."
Shakib Al Hasan looks to home conditions and crowd.
"Obviously 2007 was quite a while ago. We won on that occasion, but it's going to be different in these conditions as opposed to what it was in the West Indies. Bangladesh are playing at home, they have got the home support, they have got the home conditions, so it is a completely different occasion."
William Porterfield is aware of the whole new ball game.