Bangladesh have been England’s banana peel in World Cups. In 2011, England nearly missed the quarter finals thanks to a shock loss to Bangladesh, and in 2015 their loss meant not only that England missed the quarters but that Bangladesh took their place. If that was our only requirement, Bangladesh would be favourites, and they are certainly a chance.
England are the number 1 team and the absolute favourite for this World Cup, but they had a shock loss to Pakistan in their last match, and also lost a warm-up match to Australia. While their victory over South Africa was impressive, as was their victory over Afghanistan in the warm-ups, they are just that little bit rattled and Bangladesh is not the team they want to be facing right now.
Bangladesh, for their part, are still riding the high from the upset of upsets as they shocked a South African team riding high. They nearly beat New Zealand too, going down by just 2 wickets, although, in fairness, New Zealand are a team that Bangladesh like to beat. The problem for England is that they are a favourite team for Bangladesh too.
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Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) This won’t be giant versus minnow
Form and history both give Bangladesh a chance, and, if they were to win, they will have three wins in a row against England in World Cups, and they will have beaten two of the four favourites to make the semi-finals, which is probably enough for them to make the semis. For England, a loss here puts them at 1-2 with two losses to teams not expected to make the semi-finals, which in turn puts their own place in serious doubt. This is going to be seriously nervous for England and a great opportunity for Bangladesh to give themselves that hint of a chance of making it all the way to the semi-finals.
(2) Shakib al Hasan will shine again
The world’s best all-rounder put in a second amazing performance against New Zealand, with 2 wickets plus his team’s highest score, and it was nearly enough to win Bangladesh the match, and I am picking him to go three in a row. He is just so consistent that it’d be hard to say no to him.
(3) Ben Stokes will be the difference
England have one thing that other teams don’t have: just about everyone can bat and bowl, and Ben Stokes is their talisman. In the first match against South Africa he pulled off an incredible catch and here again I am picking him to play a blinder.
(4) Joe Root will dominate
There are so many great English players to pick to do well, but Root is perhaps the best of them. We saw in Australia’s match against West Indies how one great batsman can be enough to withstand some great bowling and see his side through, and I am picking Joe Root to do what Steve Smith did.
(5) England will win
It’s tempting to pick Bangladesh here, and I picked them in the corresponding matches in 2015 and 2011, but this is different now. England are too big and Bangladesh are too overconfident, both scenarios that lead towards an English victory. If only Bangladesh had lost to South Africa, and England beaten Pakistan, Bangladesh would have been just the right kind of underdogs to be a real chance. It’s a tough game but I think England should win. Whether they will or not is another matter but I think so. Surely.