Afghanistan very nearly beat India and, two days later, have to face Bangladesh who actually did beat both West Indies and South Africa. While Bangladesh’s last match was nowhere near as impressive as Afghanistan’s, as they were soundly beaten by Australia, they still managed their highest ever ODI score. The question remains whether that narrow loss counts as enough form for Afghanistan to get over the line against a side ranked 2 spots above them on the ODI rankings and 5 spots above them in the World Cup table. Afghanistan have beaten Bangladesh, quite a lot actually, and this would be pretty close to a 50/50 game, probably favouring Afghanistan, as it is outside of Bangladesh, but then there’s form, and the fact that Bangladesh are still in with a chance of making the semi-finals while Afghanistan aren’t. The big question is whether motivation to make the semi-finals is bigger than motivation to win their first World Cup match. It’s a tough one.
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Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) Shakib al Hasan will fail again
While his 41 in the last match wasn’t quite a complete failure, it was certainly a long way below his form in the first 4, and his bowling was off as well. While he is undoubtedly a great player, I feel that his bubble has burst and he is due for a failure.
(2) Rashid Khan will come good
He has had a horror of a World Cup that has seen his world ranking slip from 1st to 3rd, but he’s still a very, very good bowler and it is hard to imagine him staying down for too much longer. His batting in the match against India was much improved too, so I think he’ll get back to his best here.
(3) Mohammad Nabi will go one better
He was phenomenal in the match against India and really should have been the man of the match award winner but for the fact that he was out with 12 needed off 3 balls and the match was lost. He’s in some great form so he’s due.
(4) This is going to be close
I am having a lot of trouble picking who will win, and these two teams have had a lot of close matches over the years. While Afghanistan have generally won more than they’ve lost, especially outside of Bangladesh, this is a World Cup and Bangladesh like World Cups. This could be very close. It might not be, of course, but it might.
(5) I’m picking the upset
While the rankings and overall head to head don’t suggest that an Afghanistan win would be an upset, the form in this World Cup does, but I just think that this has all of the hallmarks of an upset waiting to happen, so I am picking it. We had two games that were very nearly upsets, so I think we’ll actually get one here. Bangladesh have been far too arrogant and unrealistic, and this would be a just dessert for the way they have behaved. It will be an upset, though. Bangladesh should win. But I am picking them to lose.