Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Preview, Asian Cup Final,Bangladesh versus Pakistan, Mirpur

The current Asian Cup has resembled a Fairytale with Bangladesh being the key figure by getting to go to the main ball in the Final against Pakistan. This is where the fantasy of the run will meet with the reality of an occasion that presents the Team with arguably the greatest challenge in its history. 


Which makes the key point of the Final being how the Tigers will deal with this added burden?


This can be viewed in two ways with a lot of scribes viewing more pressure being on Pakistan than Bangladesh with the humiliation that will go with them losing to a Team that is seen by many as lightweights. The other view is that Bangladesh were not expected to do anything in this Tournament outside of what they always do- lose. So with them winning, and indeed winning in spectacular fashions they have proven their point and enter the Final free of mind and primed to leave a real exclamation mark.


Setting up a mouth watering clash that will be compelling viewing.


Bangladesh


Likely Team


After the Team comprehensively beating Sri Lanka to make the Final they are likely to go into the Final with the same 11.


Tamim Iqbal,  Nazimuddin, Jahurul Islam, Nasir Hossain, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk),  Mahmudullah, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Nazmul Hossain, Shahadat Hossain 


The Keys for Bangladesh to Win


This run by the young Tigers Team makes me go back to Sri Lanka's run in the 1996 World Cup with them eventually winning it.


There was a definite sense of destiny about both the run and the victory


It feels the same with Bangladesh here with the Team having been very honourable in all their games since their Administrators made a very unpopular decision of sacking Shakib al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal as the Teams leaders and replacing them with Mushfiqur Rahim.


The ever smiling Rahim has been a revelation as an on-field leader and a man off the field that has talked the talk and indeed walked the walk.


You saw that in the lead up to the Indian game in this Tournament where he exclaimed that his batsmen would target the Indian bowlers which was greeted by dismissive chuckles.


Strange how the same people who were laughing suddenly became true believers after the Tigers batsmen did just as their Captain said they would in regards to ripping new corn shoots for the Indian bowlers
Mushfiqur Rahim- Great Leader!
All the plaudits for this win and throughout the Tournament has gone to Shakib al Hasan, who has dominated with both bat and ball as well as the rejuvenated Tamim Iqbal. Who seems to have been motivated by his dropping before the Tournament to perform at a level that his ability allows.


These two will be key to the Teams prospects again with Tamim at the top at the order and Shakib for his all round ability and exceptional finishing ability with the bat. His average of 56.33 and strike rate of over 118 shows his real menace and immense threat to Pakistan with willow in hand.


Outside of these two stars the Teams success has been built around the discovery of some really gritty and tough players. Highlighted by Mushfiqur and ably assisted by the youngsters like  Nasir Hossain who has been a real junk yard dog in his time in International Cricket and throughout this Tournament has played crucial knocks with the bat. Then the same could be said for Mahmudullah with both showing great courage in every game and real leadership.


A huge key for the Tigers going into this game will be how their batting holds up against the exceptional Pakistani bowling. Making this a reality will be two of the top 3 in Jahurul Islan and Nazimuddin contributing in this game after both have struggled throughout the Tournament. 


If they can it would take pressure off Tamim at the top and make the middle order even more potentially devastating than it already has been.


The batting standing up to the exceptional bowling attack that the Pakistani Team has will be a huge factor in whether the Tigers can win the Cup.


For if it does, their bowling unit coupled with the relative weakness and inconsistency of the Pakistan batting line up will make the Tigers tough to beat.


Pakistan


Likely Team


Ironically, the one time their batting fired on all cylinders their ultra consistent bowling was shelled by a Virat Kohli inspired India. I think the Team will just put that game down to them being beaten by one of the best innings seen in the games history and with it no changes will be made outside of Sarfraz Ahmed coming into the side to take the gloves from Umar Akmal. Leaving the Team as follows:


Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan,Umar Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Hammad Azam, Shahid Afridi, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Aizaz Cheema 


The Keys for Pakistan to Win


The Team throughout the Tournament has made the Final, but has done so without ever showing a completeness of performance.


With most of the time the Teams bowling carrying its batting, and then the one time the batting did put in a fine display it was matched by the bowling being shelled.


After a close clash earlier in the Tournament that was decided by some Umar Gul bowling brilliance the Team will go into the match with renewed respect for their opposition.


Which should meant that their will be no failure fuelled by complacency with 11 men walking out determined to be at their best.


Meaning the clash should be won by Pakistan because of the experience and know how in the Team


Most of the squad has been in many pressure cooker game with the likes of Younis Khan (YK), Misbah ul Haq and Umar Gul having ice in their veins when the heat is on.


Which could be decisive in a anticipated tight contest.


Again the Teams bowling will have a huge bearing over how the Team goes, but in their previous game against India there were signs that their batting was starting to show signs of rising.


In particular with the performance of the openers in Mohammad Hafees and Nasir Jamshed, who both score centuries, and YK who looked deadly dangerous.


If they can show the same form and are matched by the batsmen who have been fine performers in the whole Tournament it will go a long way to winning the game for Pakistan.


Especially if they bat first and post a big total like they did against India. 


For you cannot see their bowling being blitzed again and also the Bangladeshi batsmen dealing with the pressure of chasing a big total against Pakistan's fine attack.


Prediction.


My head and all my senses says Pakistan


My heart says Bangladesh


But I just think that the young Tigers will find a way to win this

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