Bangladesh v Zimbabwe ODI Series Preview

Still smarting from being blanked across six games in South Africa, Zimbabwe have travelled to Bangladesh for three ODIs and two Tests, with the first ODI taking place on Sunday in Mirpur. The remaining two games will be played in Chittagong.

Zimbabwe, ranked eleventh in ODIs, are on the back of a ten-game losing streak having lost 3-0 in South Africa, 5-0 at home to Pakistan, and most heartbreakingly losing the last two games of the Cricket World Cup Qualifier at home against the UAE and West Indies, which snatched qualification from their grasp in sickening fashion.

Bangladesh for their part have made it to the finals of two multi-team tournaments this year – the Asia Cup in the UAE and a home tri-series featuring Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe – but lost both. Sandwiched in the middle of those tournaments was an ODI series win in the West Indies. They are ranked seventh in ODIs, and this is traditionally the format they have had the most success with, and they will again start favourites here.

As well as form, history is not on Zimbabwe’s side either. These two sides have a shared story, with their elevation through the ranks of recognition and status in world cricket having taken a similar path, and have played each other a staggering 69 times in ODIs. Bangladesh have taken out 41 of them to Zimbabwe’s 28, and the visitors have only won 2 out of the last 20 matches played in Bangladesh.

Zimbabwe may though take some comfort from the team news ahead of the series. Bangladesh are without two of their strongest and most decorated players in Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, both out injured. Zimbabwe though have welcomed back influential all-rounder Sikandar Raza to their ranks after he resolved his contract impasse with Zimbabwe Cricket. With Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine also back in the squad, they are almost at full strength for the first time in a long time – only missing former skipper Graeme Cremer, who is still nursing an injury.

An interesting series awaits for the two side and there are some personal milestones to keep a watch for for players of both sides:

Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh)

The Tigers’ wicketkeeper needs just 40 runs to bring up 10,000 across all formats for his country, and become just the third Bangladeshi after Shakib and Tamim to do so.

Elton Chigumubura (Zimbabwe)

Veteran all rounder Elton could be in for a spot of flower-collecting in the series!

He has appeared in 211 ODIs (including 3 for the Africa XI) making him the third most capped Zimbabwean in the format, If he appear in all three games of this series he will surpass Andy Flower and move into second.

With the ball, he has taken 101 ODI wickets (with six coming in those Africa XI games) which sees him as the fifth highest wicket-taking Zimbabwean. Four wickets in the series will see him overtake Andy’s brother Grant Flower  and move into fourth.

 

The 2018 Asia Cup – Preview

The 14th Asia Cup gets underway on Saturday 15th September, in Dubai – a tournament that brings together six Asian sides for the third most prestigious 50-over tournament on the international calendar. It promises to be a closely fought and entertaining tournament!

Above: The 2018 Asia Cup is unveiled in Abu Dhabi

Format

The five ICC full members from the region – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – are joined for the two-week event by Hong Kong, who prevailed from a qualifier event held earlier in the month in Malaysia.

Depsite Hong Kong not currently holding ODI status, the ICC confirmed on Sunday that all games in the tournament will be official ODIs. Incidentally, this is the third time Hong Kong will have been granted temporary ODI status for their appearance in the Asia Cup – the same thing happened in 2004 and 2008.

All games will be played at the Dubai Sports City stadium and the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Above: The Dubai Sports City and Sheikh Zayed stadiums where the tournament will be held.

The first round of the tournament is played in two groups of three on a single round-robin basis, each team playing the others in their group once. In Group A, qualifiers Hong Kong face the big two of India and Pakistan, while Group B consists of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The top two teams from each group then qualify for a “Super Four” second stage, where all teams play again in a single round-robin format. Results from the first stage do not carry over. The top two from the Super Four qualify for the Final in Dubai on the 28th September.

History

This is the 14th Asia Cup. The first event was also held in the UAE in 1984, although exclusively at Sharjah rather than in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where this event will be held.

India are the most successful Asia Cup team, having won the event six times. Sri Lanka have been crowned Asian champions five times and Pakistan twice. Bangladesh best finish is as runners-up, while Afghanistan are playing in only their second Asia Cup tournament. Even Hong Kong have appeared more than that, having previously featured in the 2004 and 2008 edition.

India are also reigning Asia Cup champions, having won the 2016 competition which was held as a T20I format for the first time. Sri Lanka won the last tournament held in the 50-over format in 2014.

Form and rankings

India will no doubt be favourites again, being the top ranked ODI side in the tournament at 2nd. They will however be without talismanic captain Virat Kohli who is being rested for the tournament, and are coming off an ODI series defeat to England. Prior to that defeat they had thrashed South Africa 5-1 and beat Sri Lanka 2-1.

Pakistan, ranked 5th, will also fancy their chances, being reigning ICC Champions Trophy champions. Since that memorable tournament win, when they beat arch-rivals India in the final, their ODI form has been rather topsy-turvy – blanking Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe 5-0 either side of a 5-0 defeat to New Zealand. They are also playing in “home” conditions, having been largely based in the UAE since 2009.

Bangladesh are ranked 7th in ODIs, and it is arguably their favourite format. They recently beat the West Indies, but prior to that lost to Sri Lanka in the final of their home tri-series also featuring Zimbabwe.

Sri Lanka are ranked 8th , and have also had indifferent form in ODIs of late. They won their last two games against South Africa having already lost the series, but won the Bangladesh tri-series and lost to India.

Afghanistan are ranked 10th. Their last outing was a 2-1 series win over fellow new full member Ireland, and prior to that they won a World Cup Qualifier tournament in Zimbabwe that they were a hair’s breadth away from crashing out of at an early stage. Afghanistan have remarkably not played an ODI against an Asian full member side since 2016, so the tournament represents a rare opportunity to test themselves at this level.

Hong Kong famously lost their ODI status at the World Cup Qualifier in March, so don’t have an official ODI ranking. They recovered from a shock first game defeat to Malaysia in the qualifying tournament, but prevailed against ODI status teams Nepal and the UAE to qualify, and will relish their return to the big stage. led by 20 year-old skipper Anshuman Rath (pictured below).

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Stats and Milestones

There are plenty of stats and milestones to keep an eye out for as the tournament unfolds:

Pakistan have played 894 ODIs in their history. If the make it all the way, the final will be their 900th ODI!

Afghanistan have played 170 matches with full international status, winning 99 of them – so they need one more to bring up their century.

Upul Tharanga (Sri Lanka)  – Opener Tharanga has scored 6.873 ODI runs, needing 127 in the tournament to bring up 7,000.

Rohit Sharma (India) – Stand-in Indian skipper Rohit is also bearing down on the 7,000 mark, having notched up 6,748 in ODIs in his career to date. A mere 252 will get him across the line.

Mushiqur Rahim (Bangladesh) – The Tigers’ keeper is in line for milestones with both bat and gloves. With the willow he needs 172 runs to notch up 5,000 in ODIs, while he will be looking for 7 dismissals behind the stumps to reach 200 in the 50-over format for his country.

Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka) – having been recalled for this tournament, Malinga is in sight of two milestones. He is the Asia Cup’s second highest wicket-taker with 28 victims in the tournament’s history. Only fellow Sri Lankan Murali has more on 30, so three wickets will see Lasith take the crown.

Overall he has taken 492 wickets across all formats for Sri Lanka, so needs just more for a massive 500.

Babar Azam (Pakistan) – Pakistan’s top order batsman needs 27 runs to bring up 2,000 in ODIs.

Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh) – Veteran opener Tamim needs 61 runs to bring up 12,000 across all formats, becoming the first Bangladesh batsman to do so.

West Indies v Bangladesh T20I series – quickfire stats preview

Fresh from securing a first overseas bilateral ODI series triumph since 2009 with a win at the ground at the weekend, Bangladesh return to the Warner Park stadium in Basseterre, St Kitts on Tuesday evening for the first of three T20 Internationals against the West Indies.

The West Indies are reigning world champions in the format, but currently only ranked seventh in the world, although this is still three places higher than their visitors. With the West Indies having comfortably won the Test series, and the Tigers taking revenge in their preferred ODIs, overall bragging rights are at stake over the next week.

The sides have met six times previously in the format, with the West Indies leading 3-2, and one no result. Bangladesh have never won on West Indies home soil.

The series is also intriguing for the fact that the second and third matches will take place at the Central Broward Regional Park stadium in Lauderhill, Florida rather than in the West Indies’ traditional Caribbean homelands. With the limited overs tour having started with ODIs in Guyana in South America, this may well be the first ever international tour to take in two continental landmasses!

Above: The Central Broward Regional Park stadium in Lauderhill, Florida.

Some other quick stats and milestones to watch out for over the week:

Shakib Al Hasan

The Tigers’ skipper currenrly has 77 T20I wickets to his name, enough for fifth place in the world. 8 wickets in the series will see move to 85 and a share of third place alongside Pakistani pair Saaed Ajmal and Umar Gul.

Marlon Samuels

The seemingly ageless Jamaican has 1,573 Twenty20 International runs in his ledger, the second highest by a West Indian. With top placed Chris Gayle rested for his series, Marlon needs just 35 runs to move past the Universe Boss into first place.

Tamim Iqbal

Fresh from two centuries in the Tiger’s ODI series win, opener Tamim will be confident of notching up the 10 runs he needs to be the first Bangladeshi to 1,500 runs in T20Is.

Samuel Badree

Spinner Badree’s 56 wickets in Twenty20 Internationals currently see him in 17th place worldwide. So close are the rankings above him that just seven wickets in the series will see him dislodge New Zealand’s Tim Southee from the top ten.

Afghanistan v Bangladesh – T20I Series preview

In  two weeks Afghanistan will follow Ireland into the ranks of Test playing nations, when they make their bow in the prestigious format against India in Bengalaru. Ahead of that much anticipated game, the Afghans last assignment as a non-Test team will be a three match Twenty20 International series against Bangladesh, which gets underway on Sunday 3rd June.

All three games, with the second and third matches taking place on Tuesday and Thursday, are being held in Afghanistan’s defacto home in India. These will be the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehardun’s first ever internationals having opened in December 2016. It will become the 51st stadium in India to host official international games.

Above: The Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Dehardun makes its debut international appearance in the series.

The series also marks the first bilateral engagement between the two countires. In fact, they have only ever met once before in a Twenty20 International – Bangladesh running out the winners in a first round game at the 2014 World Twenty20 tournament in Dhaka.

As well as “home” advantage, form in the shortest format would also appear to be on Afghanistan’s side heading into the series. They have won two of their last three series – in Sharjah against Zimbabwe in February this year and against Ireland at Greater Noida in India last year. Sandwiched between those wins was a 3-0 series loss to the West Indies in the Caribbean.

For their part, Bangladesh lost to India in the final of their most recent tournament – the Nidahas Twenty20 Tri-Series held in Sri Lanka – and have in fact only won four of their last twenty T20 Internationals. That poor form sees them ranked a lowly tenth in the format, compared to Afghanistan’s eighth.

So a keenly fought series awaits. There are a few significant milestones in reach for players of both sides:

Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)

The Tigers’ captain Shakib is ranked third in the world for T20I all-rounders, and is in sight of a very significant all-round record in this series.

Sitting on 498 international wickets across all formats, he needs just two to bring up 500. If he does, he will join a very exclusive club of just two other players (Shahid Afridi of Pakistan and South Africa legend Jacques Kallis) to notch up both 10,000 international runs and 500 wickets.

Shakib will also be playing his 300th International for Bangladesh across formats in the first game.

Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)

By strange coincidence, Bangladesh’s opening batsman is also playing his 300th international in the first game -although not all of his have come wearing the green cap/helmet of Bangladesh, having also played a number of times in the last twelve months for the ICC World XI. Indeed he played for the ICC representative side earlier this week as a teammate of Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan who he now lines up against.

For both teams he has scored a total of 1,442 Twenty20 International career runs, so will be looking for just 58 ore to bring up 1,500.

Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

It’s hard to believe legspinner Rashid Khan is still a teenager, such has been his impact in international cricket since he made his Afghanistan debut as a 16-year old in 2015. Sought after the world over in franchise cricket, Khan has taken 149 international wickets for Afghanistan and the ICC World XI combined, and 49 in Twenty20s – so needs just one more to bring up the 150 / 50 respectively.

Mohammad Shahzad (Afghanistan)

The Afghans’ flamboyant keeper-batsman will be looking to make big strides up the rankings of international Twenty20 cricket’s all time run-scorers.

His 1816 career runs in the format currently have him in eighth place in the world, but 74 runs in the series will see him rocket up to fourth – leaving South African JP Duminy (7th on 1822), India’s Rohit Sharma (6th, 1852), Shoaib Malik of Pakistan (5th, 1887) and Sri Lankan Tilakaratne Dilshan (4th, 1889) in his wake.

Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)

Allrounder Nabi can make similar moves up the bowling charts. His 61 T20I wickets are enough for 10th place worldwide currently, but six more scalps in Dehardun will see him march up to sixth.

New Zealand’s Tim Southee (9th, 62 wickets), Englishman Stuart Broad (8th, 65) and the Sri Lankan pair Ajantha Mendis and Nuwan Kulasekara (Joint 6th, 66) are the men in his sights.

Sabbir Rahman (Bangladesh)

Currently having 893, batsman Sabbir needs 107 runs to become the fourth Bangladeshi (after Shakib, Tamin and Mushfiqur Rahim) to bring up 1,000 Twebty20 international runs.

Potential Debutants

There are two uncapped players in the Afghanistan squad who may make their Twenty20 debuts if chosen – Harzat Zazai and Darwish Rasool could become the 39th and 40th men to represent their country in the shortest format.

First Test Matches: Part Two – India to Bangladesh

With Ireland facing Pakistan this week in their inaugural Test since obtaining Full Member status last year, I am taking a look back the first Tests of the previous ten nations to grace the longest format of our beloved game.

In Part One, I talk about Test nations #1 through #5 – from the first ever Test match between Australia and England,  through to the maiden appearances of South Africa, West Indies and New Zealand.

No we pick up the narrative with…

Test team #6 – India.

First match vs England, Lord’s, London – 25th June 1932

After the 39-year gap between South Africa’s first Test and West Indies becoming the fourth Test team, teams five and six came along like the proverbial London buses, relatively speaking.  Of the three teams granted membership of the Imperial Cricket Conference in 1926, West Indies made their debut in 1928, then New Zealand in 1930, with India finally joining the Test party in 1932.

Cricket had been played on the Subcontinent for many decades by this point, a by-product of course of British Empire. Many parties of English cricketers of different shapes and sizes had visited British India, and an Indian representative team had previously toured England in 1912, but it did not play against England, only First Class fixtures against County sides.

It wasn’t until a team, given the title “All-India” and captained by the  princely Maharaja of Porbandar (aka Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji) visited England from April to September 1932 that India finally got the chance to play Test cricket.

Above: The “All-India” touring party of 1932.

It’s easy to forget now in the days of very limited warm-ups and multi-formats how long cricket tours were in days gone by. The Maharaja’s men played 39 games on this tour, including an astonishing 25 First Class fixtures where they met each County at least once, as well as Oxford and Cambridge Universities and Scotland.

Whilst the Maharaja was the nominal captain of the side, he very rarely appeared on the teamsheet. ESPN Cricinfo’s biography of him describes him as “A keen cricketer, he was handicapped by being almost useless” but at least he had the good sense to realise this, and did not select himself to play in many games, including the one Test.

Above: Natwarsinhji Bhavsinhji, the Maharaj of Porbandar

That Test comenced on 25th June at Lord’s and India’s tour captain stood aside for the game in favour of CK Nayudu. England were captained by Douglas Jardine just six months away from his date with destiny in the fateful Bodyline series in Australia.

India caused a bit of a sensation on the first morning dismissing both England’s Yorkshire opening batsmen  cheaply -the great Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes. Both were bowled by Mohammad Nissar, who would end up with India’s first five-wicket haul. When Frank Woolley was run-out shortly thereafter, an astonished Lord’s crowd saw the hosts reeling at 19-3. It wasn’t to last –  from then on, skipper Jardine played a captain’s role  and took control of the match – top scoring for England in both innings and eventually leading his side to a  comfortable 158 run win.

Nayudu’s batting exploits over the entire tour led him to become one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year in the 1933 edition of the almanack. He was not however the first Indian to be bestowed with that great honour. Three of his compatriots, who all played for England at one stage, had preceded him – Ranjitsinhji  in 1897, Duleepsinhji in 1930 and the Nawab of Pataudi in 1932.

India would have to wait until their 25th attempt, 20 years later in 1952, to win their first Test match. That victory came against England at what was then called the Madras Cricket Club, and is now the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

Test team #7 – Pakistan.

First match vs India, New Delhi, India – 16 October 1952

The Indian Independence Act, passed by Britain’s Westminster Parliament in 1947, provided that from “the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan”

And so it was that the ground was laid for Pakistan to become our seventh Test nation. India had already made their debut as we have just seen, but now there was an entirely new nation on the map.

Cricket was already well established in Pakistan as a result of it being part of the British Indian Empire. Following the declaration of indpendence, for the rest of the 1947/48 season matches were played on a rather ad-hoc basis, until the formation of the Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) on 1 May 1949 regulated control of cricket in the new territory. The forerunner to today’s PCB, the BCCP was accepted as a member of the ICC in July 1952, paving the way for Test cricket.

Pakistan’s first tour as a Test nation was arranged hastily after ICC membership being conferred, and its first Test took place at New Delhi’s Ferez Shah Kolta stadium, against India, starting on the 16th October 1952.

Thus Pakistan became the first country (aside from England itself) to not make its international debut against England. Pakistan was also (again save for England) the first to make its Test debut as a fully fledged independent state.

(Note: Interestingly, New Zealand had been granted autonomous status following the Balfour declaration in 1928 which declared the Dominions of Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to be equal members within the British Empire. However, this wasn’t given legal effect until an Act of Parliament was passed in Britain in 1931, after NZ’s Test debut in 1930, meaning the Kiwis miss out on this honour on a legal technicality!)

Pakistan faced a strong Indian side featuring greats Vinoo Mankad, Vijay Hazare and Vijay Manjrekar. In the first innings, India’s Hemu Adhikari and Ghulam Ahmed notched up a 10th wicket stand of 109, which at the time became the fourth highest last-wicket partnership in Test history and carried India to a total of 372.

In reply, Pakistan scored 150 and were asked to follow-on. A second innings of 152 led to a defeat by an innings and 70 runs. Pakistan’s chief nemesis was Vinoo Mankad, who took career-best innings figures of 8/52 in the first innings, and career-best match figures of 13/131 in the Test overall.

Pakistan scored only one fifty across the two innings, by none other than their first superstar, Hanif Mohammad, who would go on to play in 55 Tests.

Above: Hanif Mohammad, first superstar of Pakistan cricket.

Pakistan did not lick their wounds for long however. They levelled the two test series 1-1 by winning the second test by an innings just  one week later in Lucknow.

Test team #8– Sri Lanka

First match vs England, Colombo, Sri Lanka – 17 February 1982

By the time the next Test team was minted, the landscape for international cricket had changed considerably. The One-Day International had been unveiled in 1971, and the ICC had held two World Cups in England based on the new shorter format. This gave the opportunity for non-Test playing emerging nations to play recognised international fixtures before being granted Test status.

The first such team to follow this path were Sri Lanka. The islanders had been granted ICC full status in 1981, by which time they had already played six official ODIs – three each in the World Cups of 1975 and 1979. They were to play two more against England in the week leading up to their first Test against the same opponents in February 1982.

The England side that travelled to Sri Lanka for this historic tour was a strong one, containing players such as Ian Botham, Graham Gooch, David Gower, Bob Willis and Derek Underwood. Sri Lanka stunned the visitors by winning the second ODI thanks to an innings of 86 not-out by Sidath Wettimuny and some crazy running by England who suffered four run-outs in their chase. The ODI series was tied 1-1, and the whole country of Sri Lanka went berserk with excitement.

The historic Test was played at Colombo’s P Sara Oval commencing on the 17 February 1982. Riding the crest of their ODI wave Ranjan Madugalle and Sri Lanka legend Arjuna Ranatunga both scored fifties in Sri Lanka’s first innings, before being undone by Underwood, who would take 5 wickets. A David Gower 89 and 45 from the skipper Keith Fletcher then gave England a slender five run first innings lead. Despite a fifty by Roy Dias in the second dig, Sri Lanka collapsed from 140-2 to 175 all out, John Emburey taking six wickets, and leaving England a straightforward chase. England eventually ran out winners by seven wickets.

Above: Arjuna Ranatunga in action in the first Test versus England

Sri Lanka’s first Test victory would come in 1985 in their 14th Test, when they defeated neighbours India at the same venue as their first Test, the P Sara Oval.

Test team #9 -Zimbabwe

First match vs India, Harare, Zimbabwe -18 October 1992

Before Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980, it had competed as Rhodesia (later Zimbabwe-Rhodesia) in South Africa’s domestic First Class cricket competition, the Currie Cup. After independence, the now national side was first elected as an Associate member of the ICC in 1981, and following its participation in three world cups, obtained Full member status in 1992.

Like Sri Lanka before it, our ninth Test nation had therefore already played a number of official ODIs before making its Test bow.

Zimbabwe’s First test was held at the Harare Sports Club starting on the 18 October 1992. Like Pakistan before them, Zimbabwe’s first Test opponent would not be England, but instead an Indian side featuring the legendary Kapil Dev and a young Sachin Tendulkar playing his 17th test match at the still tender age of 19.

That first match ended in a draw, and is notable for a number of reasons.

Firstly, Zimbabwe’s first innings total of 456 remains the highest by any Test nation on debut. Zimbabwe also became the first debutant nation since Australia 115 years earlier to avoid defeat in their maiden Test.

Zimbabwe’s skipper David Houghton scored a century in the first innings, becoming only the second man after Charles Bannerman to do so in his nation’s first Test.

Most intriguingly of all however, Zimbabwe’s ranks included one player who was not making his test debut. Egypt-born of Greek heritage, spinner Yiannis Athanasios “John” Traicos had played three tests for South Africa in 1969/70 before they were were banished from international sport due to the Apartheid regime. Most assumed that would be it for his international cricket career, but Traicos returned a numerically wonderful 22 years and 222 days later to play for Zimbabwe in their inaugural Test, at age 45.

Above: John Traicos

He proved there was still life left in the old dog too – taking a five-for in India’s only innings, including snaring Tendulkar caught-and-bowled for a duck! Traicos is the only man to play for a team in their first Test that was not himself making his individual Test debut – although Boyd Rankin may emulate him for Ireland later this week if selected, having already played one Test for England.

After drawing their first, Zimbabwe would go on to draw six of their first ten Tests. Their first win came at the 11th attempt, against Pakistan in 1995.

Test team #10 -Bangladesh

First match vs India, Dhaka, Bangladesh – 10 November 2000.

Before Ireland, the last team to join the exclusive Test club was Bangladesh.

Following the former East Pakistan obtaining independence from Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh became associate members of the ICC in 1977. The new nation made its ODI debut in 1986, eventually playing fully 41 ODIs before making their Test debut as a Full Member in November 2000.

That match, against India, was played at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka. Interestingly, this ground also hosted the first home Test for Pakistan in 1955 before Bangladeshi independence in 1971. Thus it has the unique status of having played host to two country’s maiden home Tests.

Also, alongside earthquake-ravaged Lancaster Park in Christchurch, New Zealand,  it is the only venue to host an inaugural Test match that is not still currently in use for cricket today – now being exclusively used for football while cricket is played at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur.

Three Indians made their debut in the first Test, including Zaheer Khan, and the side was captained for the first time by Sourav Ganguly.

Bangaldesh got off to a dream start, amassing 400 in their first innings – the second highest by any side on Test debut behind only Zimbabwe, with Aminul Islam becoming just the third batsman after Bannerman and Houghton to make a century in his team’s maiden Test.

Above: Bangladeshi debut centurion, Aminul Islam.

Sunil Joshi was India’s main threat in that first innings, taking five wickets, before also top-scoring with 92 in India’s reply of 429. Sadly, Bangladaesh could not repeat their heroics of the first innings, collapsing to 91 all out in the second and eventually losing by nine wickets.

Bangladesh had a torrid start to their Test career – losing all but one of their first 27 Tests, with the other drawn. Their first win came in their 35th Test against Zimbabwe at Chittagong in 2005.

Test team #11 – Ireland

First match vs Pakistan, Dublin, Republic of Ireland – 11 May 2018

To be determined…watch this space!

Nidahas Twenty20 Tri-Series Trophy Preview

Twenty20 International Tri-Series between Full Members are like the proverbial London buses – you wait ages, and then two come along straight after each other! Hot on the heels of Australia, New Zealand and England making history with the first such series earlier this year, now the subcontinent teams are getting in on the act. The tournament is being held to mark 70 years of Sri Lankan independence.

Sri Lanka plays hosts to the Nidahas Trophy starting on Tuesday 6th March. The series features India and Bangladesh alongside the hosts, with each of the three sides playing each other twice, followed by a final. All games take place at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

India will be strong favourites, despite resting key members of their first choice team like skipper Virat Kohli and legendary keeper MS Dhoni. They are ranked third in the world in T20 Internationals, hosts Sri Lanka eighth, and Bangladesh down in tenth. India are also in much better form having won their last three T20 International series (against South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand).

For their part, the hosts’ last two series were against their current opponents, having beaten Bangladesh and lost to India in recent times. Bangladesh will also have to overcome their record of never having beaten India in a T20 international.

All three sides are without their first choice T20 captain in this tournament. The hosts’ skipper Angelo Mathews is out injured, as is Bangladesh’s leader, Shakib Al Hasan. The teams will be led instead by Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Chandimal and Mahmudullah respectively.

With a slightly inexperienced squad having been named by India, there are potential international debuts for allrounders Deepak Hooda and Vijay Shankar.

Aside from that, there are a number of potential personal milestones to watch out for as the tournament unfolds:

Rohit Sharma (India)

India’s stand-in captain has 74 Twenty20 Intermational caps, seeing him in eleventh place in the world all-time rankings. If India make it to the final, and Rohit pays every game, he will rocket up to eighth place in that list. New Zealand’s Martin Guptill and the two South Africans JP Duminy and AB de Villiers are the men in sight.

Rohit currently has 1,679 runs to his name in the format, which sees him in tenth place in the world all-time. He could move up four or five places in this list during the tournament. JP Duminy currently sits in fifth place on 1,822 runs, less than 150 ahead. Umar Akmal, David Warner, Mohammad Shahzad and Shoaib Malik are the others potentially in reach.

Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka)

All=rounder Perera is in reach of milestones with both the bat and ball during this tournament. He needs 136 runs to become the fifth Sri Lankan to score 1,000 runs in the format. With the ball, he needs just one wicket to notch up 50.

Mahmudullah (Bangladesh)

Bangladesh’s captain is 79 runs shy of 1,000 Twenty20 International runs. He will become just the third Bangladeshi to do so if he succeeds.

Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh)

Rahim has 48 dimissals (23 catches, 25 stumpings) to his name in the format, enough for 7th place worldwide. Five more in the series would see him move up to fourth past Denesh Ramdin, Umar Akmal and Mohammad Shahzad.

South Africa v Bangladesh – T20I Series Preview

Bangladesh’s tour of South Africa draws to a close with a two-game Twenty20 series starting on Thursday at Bloemfontein’s Mangaung Oval, and concluding at Senwes Oval in Potchesfroom.

Hopes were high, but it has not been a happy tour for Bangladesh so far.  The Tigers lost both tests to the Proteas at the same two stadiums that host these T20Is, as well as being swept 3-0 in the ODI series that followed. You would forgive them for having one eye on being Out of Africa as soon as they can – but as it tramsprires that the final leg of the tour is perhaps their best chance of taking something home with them back to Dhaka.

South Africa are without their multi-format captain Faf du Plessis, out for six weeks with an injury picked up in the final ODI, as well as a number of top bowlers who they chosen to rest. There is no Imran Tahir, no Morne Morkel and no Kagiso Rabada – although the batting is as daunting as ever with Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock joined by a rejuvenated and well-rested AB de Villiers.

Although Bangladesh are without Mustifizur Rahman and Tamim Iqbal, they are bouyed by the presence of the top ranked T20I all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who will be looking to make an impact as shortest format captain after a quiet ODI series and the two Tests that he chose to sit out.

Bangladesh have never beaten South Africa in four attempts in Twenty20 cricket, and are a lowly tenth in the ICC world rankings in the format, behind Afghanistan. However, South Africa are only ranked seventh themselves.

Plenty to play for for both sides then, and a few players will be looking at personal milestones too:

David Miller (South Africa)

Miller has scored 906 runs in his T20 career, including the games he played for the ICC World XI in the Indpenedence Cup in Pakistan earlier this year. He’ll be confident of becoming the fifth South African to notch up 1000 runs in the shortest format.

JP Duminy (South Africa)

The Proteas stand-in captain for this series is also his country’s leading T20I run-score with 1,683. This puts him in 9th place in the world, and Umar Akmal (1,690), David Warner (1,696) and Shoaib Malik (1,719) are well within his sights as he seeks to march up that particular ladder -although Malik will be playing this week in a three game series against Sri Lanka.

Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)

 

The Tigers’ captain is also his country’s joint highest T20I appearnace maker with 59 games under his belt, the same as his keeper Mushfiqur Rahim and opening batsman Tamim Iqbal. Tamim is injured for this series so Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim will move ahead.

Shakib also needs 50 runs to displace Tamim as his country’s top scorer in the format.

He is also Bangladesh’s top wicket taker in T20 internationals – a true allrounder!

Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh)

As well as moving joint top of the Bangladesh appearance list as noted above, the Tigers’ keeper will also be looking for the three dismissals he needs to bring up his half century.

His 24 stumpings to date are enough for third place in the world, and four more will see him move past Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad into second, behind only AB de Villiers.

Bangladesh v Australia – 1st Test Preview

When Steve Smith’s Australian side take the field tomorrow at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Mirpur in the suburbs of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, it will be a rare sight indeed. It is 11 years, and four cancelled tours, since Australia last deemed Bangladesh worthy of playing in a Test match.

Not they bothered to play them much before then either – this two-match series is only the third ever between the two sides, and only Australia’s second visit to Bangladesh since the Tigers were admitted as a Test side 17 years ago.

Of those paltry four matches played between the sides, Australia have won all four, but much has changed since 2006, and the hosts will be no pushover this time around. Although Bangladesh have only won nine of their 100 Test matches played since their elevation to Full member status in 2000, two of those wins have come in the last twelve months – a first ever win against England at home and an away victory against Sri Lanka. They have also taken great strides in one-day cricket, and are especially dangerous in home conditions. They will be confident they can push Australia hard and cause an upset.

Australia have not played Test cricket since their series loss in India in March, and will be hoping that they can emulate their performance in the first test of that series in Pune rather than the following three.

An intriguing series awaits. There are a few significant personal milestones likely to be established also:

Nathan Lyon (Australia)

Australia’s leading spin bowler, the most-capped player in the squad, will be hoping subcontinental conditions are to his liking – you would certainly back him to take the three wickets he needs to bring up 250 for his country in Tests.

Currently sitting on 247, he also needs just one to draw level with the legendary Richie Benaud in eighth spot in Australia’s all time wicket takers list – a wonderful achievement for the man from Young in New South Wales.

If the pitch is a real turner, he might even take the 12 wickets he needs to move up one spot higher, alongside Jason Gillespie’s 259 in seventh place.

Steve Smith (Australia)

With his unorthodox but evidently highly effective batting action, captain Smith has already notched up a remarkable 20 centuries for the Australians in Tests. Just one more in this test will see him move into joint ninth place for his country alongside the fabulously mustachioed David Boon and Neil Harvey.

Shakib-Al-Hasan and Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)

Bangladesh’s two leading test run-scorers will both notch up their 50th Test appearances in this first test.

Shakib is also far and away the Tigers’ leading wicket-taker too, and sits proudly as the ICC’s highest ranked all-rounder in Tests (and ODIs and T20Is for that matter!) A hugely underrated player on the world stage, he will be hoping to add to his 179 wickets.

 

ICC Champions Trophy – Who will qualify for the semi-finals?

Isn’t cricket wonderful? With all teams now having played two games each, and with one round of games in the group stage to go, all eight can still qualify for the semi-finals of cricket’s second-most prestigious one day international tournament!

Here are the qualification scenarios ahead of the final group games

Group A

The Group A table is currently looking like this:

Team Played Wins Points Net Run Rate
England 2 2 4 1.069
Australia 2 0 2 0.0
Bangladesh 2 0 1 -0.407
New Zealand 2 0 1 -1.74

England have an unassailable lead at the top of the table, regardless of their result against Australia at Edgbaston on Saturday.

The tie-breaker rules take into account number of wins first, and then Net Run Rate (NRR), and with England sitting on two wins and the only team that can catch them on points, Australia, having no wins, England cannot be overhauled. They will therefore play the runners up from Group B in the first semi-final at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on 14th June.

So all that remains in Group A is to decide which of the other three teams will qualify to join the hosts in the semis. Here’s how it might play out:

If England beat Australia (or there is a no-result in this game due to rain) AND there is a result in the other game between New Zealand and Bangladesh, then the winner of that other game will finish second and will go through to face the winners of Group B at Edgbaston on the 15th June.

(Note: if there is no result between England and Australia, the winner of NZ/Bangladesh and the Australians would both have 3 points, but Australia would have no wins, and would therefore be relegated to third on the tie-breaker)

If England beat Australia, but the NZ/Bangladesh game is a wash-out, all 3 of Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand would have 2 points. The BlackCaps will finish bottom of the group, as their NRR is the lowest of the three, and it won’t change so they can’t overtake Bangladesh. It will then come down to NRR between Australia and Bangladesh as to who finishes second. If England beat Australia by a greater margin than they beat Bangladesh, then Bangladesh go through. If they win by a lesser margin than against the Tigers, then the Aussies will scrape through.

If Australia beat England, then Australia will qualify second on 4 points, and both NZ and Bangladesh will be eliminated regardless of the result in their game.

If both games are abandoned as no-results, then again Australia will qualify second, and the Tigers and Blackcaps will have to pack their bags.

Group B

The Group B table currently looks like this:

Team Played Wins Points Net Run Rate
India 2 1 2 1.272
South Africa 2 1 2 1.000
Sri Lanka 2 1 2 -0.879
Pakistan 2 1 2 -1.544

 

Conventional wisdom was that this group would be a walk in the park for two of the pre-tournament favourites, India and South Africa. Someone forgot to tell Sri Lanka and Pakistan that though, and after two stunning upset results in the last two days (here) and (here) the group is very much wide open.

Cats are very much amongst the pigeons at this stage, and one of the group’s “big two” is very likely going home early.

With India playing South Africa next, and Pakistan up against Sri Lanka, those two games effectively become quasi-quarterfinals, with the winners progressing to the semi-finals and the losers heading to Heathrow airport.

Of course, results on the field have only been one part of the story of this tournament, with the weather being the winner in two games so far. So what happens if either or both remaining Group B games also get abandoned as no-results? Let’s look at each scenario:

India v South Africa game has a result, but Sri Lanka v Pakistan is washed out

The winner of India v South Africa will go through as group winners on 4 points and face the Group A runner-up at Edgbaston on the 15th of June. The loser is eliminated.

Sri Lanka will have 3 points but qualify as runners-up due to their superior Net-Run-Rate over Pakistan, and will face Group A winner England in the semi-final at Cardiff on the 14th June. Pakistan will be eliminated.

India v South Africa is a no-result, but there is a winner between Sri Lanka and Pakistan

The winner of Sri Lanka v Pakistan will go through as group winners on 4 points and face the runner up of Group A at Edgbaston on the 15th June. Loser is eliminated.

India will qualify as runners-up on 3 points due to their superior Net-Run-Rate over South Africa, and will face Group A winner England in the semi-final at Cardiff on the 14th June. South Africa will be eliminated.

Both games are washed out as no-results

All four teams will end up on 3 points, with one win apiece, and the group positions will therefore be decided on Net-Run-Rate alone.

As per the table above, India will win the group and play the Group B runners up, and South Africa will finish second and face England in Cardiff for a place in the final.

This is the only scenario whereby both India and South Africa can qualify.

2017 ICC Champions Trophy – Group A

The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, to be played in England and Wales, starts this Thursday with the opening game between hosts England and Bangladesh at The Oval in London.

In this first post I take a look at the possible milestones to be reached by players from the four teams in Group A – Australia, Bangladesh, England and New Zealand.

Each team can play a maximum of five games in this tournament – three in the group stages, a semi-final and the final – so I have considered possible milestones that may be reached in that time-frame, barring a freak run of double centuries or ten-wicket hauls. Anything is possible of course, but I’m trying to be as realistic as possible!

For a preview of Group B, have a look over here.

Australia

The Aussies are perennial winners of ICC 50-over tournaments, and again enter this one as one of the favourites. Currently ranked second in the world in ODIs, they are the only team to have won more than one Champions Trophy outright, lifting the silverware in 2006 and 2009. Watch out for the following as the tournament unfolds:

Steven Smith

If Australia reach the final, and their captain plays in every game, Steve Smith will bring up 100 ODI appearances for the boys in yellow, currently having 95 to his name.

David Warner

One of the possible stars of the tournament needs just 54 runs to bring up 4000 career ODI runs. Barring injury, it’s hard to see this milestone not being added to the record books.

Glenn Maxwell

Mercurial all-rounder, and self-styled “Big Show”, needs 43 runs to clock up 2000 for his country in ODIs.

Mitchell Starc

The Australians’ main strike bowler is 13 wickets shy of matching Jason Gillespie’s 142 for his country, enough to move him up to joint tenth place in the list of Australia’s all-time ODI wicket takers. 14 Starc wickets in the tournament will relegate poor Dizzy to eleventh.

Matthew Wade

Although playing as wicketkeeper gives him something of an unfair advantage over the man he might replace, the Aussie gloveman needs just two catches to move to 105 career catches and match the record of Mike Hussey, who currently holds down tenth spot in all-time ODI catches for his country.

Bangladesh

The Tigers enter the tournament ranked joint sixth in the world and qualify for their first Champions Trophy since 2006. These are the players to keep an eye on stats-wise over the next two weeks:

Mashrafe Mortaza

The Bangladesh ODI captain has currently played 175 ODIs for his country, enough to put him second on the list of all-time highest appearances for the Tigers. He needs just two more games to equal Mohammad Ashruful (177) at the top of the tree, and if he plays in all three groups games he will move clear at the top.

Shakib Al Hasan

The man tipped to replace Mashrafe as captain once he retires at the end of the tournament is currently two games behind his skipper with 173 appearances. He will need the Tigers to get to the semis to equal Ahsraful’s 177, and to the final to surpass him and move into second place outright (assuming Mashrafe plays in all the games Shakib does)

Shakib is also 185 runs shy of reaching 5000 ODI runs for Bangladesh, currently tallying 4815 runs from his 173 appearances.

Imrul Kayes

The opening batsman needs 127 runs to reach 2000 ODI runs for Bangladesh.

Soumya Sarkar

Soumya currently sits on 925 ODI runs, needing just 75 to notch up his first 1000 runs.

Rubel Hossain

The quick bowler needs 9 scalps to bring up a century of wicket for Bangladesh in ODIs, having taken 91 victims in his career to date.

England

The host nation have an unenviable and well-known record of having never won a 50-over ICC tournament, despite making it to no less than five finals, including the last Champions Trophy in 2013 where they lost to India. This time, they are in-form, at home, and enter the tournament as the bookies’ favourites. What can possibly go wrong?! These are the players to monitor:

Eoin Morgan

England’s white-ball captain Morgan is approaching a few milestones in this tournament. The following all relate to his record for England alone, noting that he did make 23 ODI appearances for his native Ireland before switching allegiance to England.

Morgan has made 157 ODI appearances in England colours, needing two more to equal Darren Gough (currently in fifth place in England’s all time appearance list on 159) and four to match Ian Bell’s 161 in fourth place. If England make the final, then Eoin will claim fourth place all for himself, assuming he plays in every game.

Eoin also needs 180 runs to bring up his 5000 for England in ODIs, and currently sits on 10 centuries for England. He needs two more centuries to match Marcus Trescothick’s 12 at the top of England’s rankings.

 

Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali

Two of England’s crucial allrounders both need 3 wickets to tally 50 ODI victims for their country, currently sitting together on 47 wickets.

Chris Woakes

Another all-rounder, Woakes needs 11 wickets to mark 100 for England

New Zealand

The final team in Group A (alphabetically speaking) are New Zealand. The Blackcaps won this trophy (then known as the ICC Knockout Trophy) in Kenya in 2000, and of course dazzled the world on their way to the 2015 World Cup Final before meekly losing in the final against Australia. A strong Group A will be difficult to escape from, but the Blackcaps are capable of beating anyone on their day, so cannot be ruled out completely.

The NZ players with upcoming personal milestones are as follows:

Kane Williamson

The skipper currently has 4362 ODI runs to his name, sitting in eleventh spot for NZ. He needs just 17 runs to match the wonderfully named Chris Zinzan Harris on 4379 and move into the top ten, and 121 runs to equal Scott Styris in ninth place.

Ross Taylor

A long-time key batsman for the Blackcaps, LPRU Taylor needs just two more appearances to overtake Styris’ 188 and move himself into eighth place for NZ.

Tim Southee

The Blackcaps’ quick bowler current has 155 ODI wickets, needing four more to overtake New Zealand’s finest ever fast bowler Sir Richard Hadlee for sixth place in the all time list for their country.

Neil Broom

Recently recalled after a long absence, Broom needs 126 runs to mark up 1000 in the format for New Zealand.

Trent Boult

The fast bowler needs 13 wickets to move to 100 in ODI uniform for the Blackcaps.

Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner

Another player to find himself back in the national side after a long absence, Jeetan Patel needs just one more wicket to mark 50 for his country. Fellow slow bowler Mitchell Santner needs seven scalps to bring up the same milestone, currently sitting having 43 to his name.

Luke Ronchi

And last but not least, with 97 grabs already in the record book, keeper-batsman Ronchi needs just three more catches to reach 100 for his second international country, having previously played a handful of ODIs for Australia.