There are a few dreams going around the World Cup, but the one I am focusing on is the dream that Bangladesh could qualify for the semi-finals for the first time, and then, perhaps, they could dream of going all the way to win the World Cup itself. But how realistic is it?
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Match 1: Australia
The last time that Australia lost to Bangladesh in a one day international Andrew Symonds turned up drunk to the match. Since then, Bangladesh hasn’t come close to winning. They won their first ever test match against Australia last year, in Bangladesh, after Shakib al Hasan played the best match of his entire life – and then lost the second match. This is very, very difficult, historically.
It’s also very hard in terms of the recent history too. Australia are on a roll in this World Cup, while Bangladesh haven’t done nearly as well. While Shakib al Hasan is having the tournament of his life, the rest of the team aren’t doing quite as well.
And yet this is a match that Bangladesh must win. If they lose this match then their dream is all but over. While in theory they can still make it with a loss, that’s when net run rate comes into play and Bangladesh’s net run rate is terrible.
Match 2: Afghanistan
For most of the teams in this World Cup, Afghanistan are easy beats, but not for Bangladesh, who have lost to Afghanistan on a regular basis. While Bangladesh’s current form makes them favourites in this encounter, especially as Afghanistan have been so bad, the Tigers would do well not to take this lightly, as Afghanistan are well and truly capable of beating Bangladesh, and it wouldn’t be an upset either. Bangladesh should win this, but only if they prepare themselves well. The result of this match could well depend on the result of Bangladesh’s match against Australia, as momentum could make all the difference.
Match 3: India
To the surprise of many, Bangladesh have beaten India before, though their victories have been few and far between. Right now India are doing very well while Bangladesh are several rungs behind them, making this one of the least likely times for Bangladesh to beat India. However, a lot could change between now and this match, on the 2nd of July. If India lose form and Bangladesh somehow gain even more momentum then perhaps they could dare to dream. Probably not, though, but at least historically they are a chance. They weren’t supposed to beat South Africa either, and this would be just as big an upset. Perhaps India will have already qualified for the semi-finals by now and not be too bothered by a loss. Perhaps India will even conspire to help Bangladesh make it to the semi-finals. Probably not, though.
Match 4: Pakistan
Just three days after facing India, Bangladesh will have to face Pakistan, a slippery opponent if ever there was one. If Pakistan are already out of semi-finals contention, then Bangladesh are a chance, but if this is the match that determines which of them qualifies, then things will be very different. Bangladesh are still a chance of knocking Pakistan out, like they knocked England out of the quarter finals in the last match of the group stages of the 2015 World Cup, but this is very different here. It’s possible, and certainly an easier match than India, but it’s far from guaranteed.
Whoever they face in the semi-final will be favourites. If Bangladesh somehow qualify for the semi-finals, it will probably be in 4th place, and right now that would see them facing New Zealand in their semi-final, or perhaps India, with Australia and England also a chance to finish top. Whoever ends up as their opponent will be very tough.
If, by some miracle, Bangladesh make it all the way to the final, they will be celebrating hard at the achievement, and it will be a huge achievement, but do they have the ability to win the trophy? Bangladesh are currently ranked 7th in ODIs, the same ranking that Sri Lanka had when they won the World Cup in 1996, but that was at home, while this is away. Also, Sri Lanka didn’t lose any matches in 1996, while Bangladesh have already lost two. It’d be a huge upset, just as it was when Sri Lanka won in 1996, but in a knockout match you never know.
It just seems so unlikely, though, especially given the tremendous form of the teams currently in the top 4 positions. Bangladesh’s next 4 opponents are tough too, and they probably need to win all of them, or at least 3. It’s beyond difficult. It’d take a miracle.
But the World Cup has been the place of miracles and dreams and perhaps, just perhaps, this will be another one.