Bangladesh must not only win, but win by enough to qualify on Net Run-Rates - not an easy task against a well-oiled Pakistan team
It was Pakistan’s legendary all-rounder and captain, Imran Khan, who was credited with delivering a supposedly inspiring speech, urging his players to “fight like cornered tigers” at the ICC World Cup 1992. Ahead of a must-win match against Australia, Imran is believed to have told his players, “You've got nowhere to go, go out and fight.” In the ICC World Twenty20 2012, Pakistan finds that the boot in on the other foot ahead of the last match of the league phase.
Mushfiqur Rahim might well tell his team that there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, but it’s not clear if Bangladesh’s captain is the kind of person who likes to deliver motivational speeches. And, given the kind of strokes some of Bangladesh’s top order play, despite repeated entreaties to start slowly and build big, it doesn’t seem like many of them listen to speeches.
The equation for Bangladesh is clear, or at least one half of it is. If Bangladesh bats first, it needs to win by 36 runs or more to narrow the gap in the Net Run Rate and knock Pakistan out of the ICC World Twenty20 2012. If Pakistan bats first, then Bangladesh will have to reach the target in something under 20 overs – to be determined by what total Pakistan manages.
This situation has arisen, of course, because New Zealand beat Bangladesh by the healthy margin of 59 runs, while it managed to keep the margin of defeat against Pakistan down to 13 runs.
For Bangladesh, the challenge in the match against New Zealand was pacing itself. Batsmen repeatedly took the aerial route early on and perished, after Brendon McCullum had bludgeoned 123 to take New Zealand to 191. Tamim Iqbal found the cover fielder, Shakib-al-Hasan chipped to cover-point, Mushfiqur Rahim holed out to deep mid-wicket, Mahmadullah found long-on … the list is long. Bangladesh managed just 132.
Mushfiqur admitted that his batsmen had attacked a bit recklessly, but justified this, saying this was what the format demanded. “When it comes off, it looks very spectacular and you feel that they did the right thing,” said Mushfiqur. “On days when it does not come off, of course, you look back and wonder if things could have been done differently.”
If Bangladesh’s batsmen were contemplating curbing their natural instincts, they might actually be given the license to do the opposite, in case Pakistan bats first and puts a decent score on the board. The team, which calls itself the Bangla Tigers, something that is reflected in the logo of the Bangladesh Cricket Board, would do well to recall Imran’s call to arms.
Bangladesh was set to make at least one change to the team that played the first match. With that being a 3.30pm start, Mushfiqur expected a bit more assistance for the slower bowlers, and played three left-arm spinners. “We probably made a mistake in reading the conditions,” he said of the decision to include Abdur Razzaq, Shakib-Al-Hasan and Elias Sunny. “We thought there would be a lot more turn. We have enough options in the squad, with seam bowling all-rounders and fast-medium bowlers on the bench. Given that this game is under lights, and that we know the pitch a bit better, we will look at bringing in an extra fast-medium option.”
Pakistan, for its part, will not worry unduly about the permutations and combinations that Mushfiqur is pondering. A simple win will do the trick for Mohammad Hafeez, and often, when the game is approached that way, it yields the best results.