We always love it when David challenges Goliath. Those stories in cricket are cricketing dots in a timeline view of the entire cricket we watch. When the fable was narrated, we’d picture a sad looking David, getting inspired to knock off the complacent Goliath. Bangladesh, have yet to get out of that skin of David after playing around 27-28 years of international cricket. They are like those 100-meter sprinters who choke in a marathon race. They have their moments when they nose ahead and they suddenly look invincible, but they never manage to sustain the habits required to win. Bangladesh enters their second world cup, where they advance past the first round. The last time they did it in 2007, their only claim to fame in the second round was a victory against the Proteas, other than which undisciplined cricket did them in.
They come into the 2015 World cup on the back of 2 rousing performances against England and New Zealand. They seem promising, offering to quit the racy world of undisciplined cricket to a more patient and watchful aggression mode. Is that a promise or a mirage? That’s what will get tested out in the World Cup quarterfinal against India at the MCG.
Bangladesh is like a jigsaw puzzle that has a few pieces making an image, but still have a few gaping holes to fill, and that’s bound to look sore and trouble them in the knock-out phase of cricket’s premier tournament. Their openers and bowling have not been punching above their weight, and certainly don’t pose any risk of intimidation. The kind of intimidation teams have when Gilchrist and Hayden come to bat, the kind of fear when Brett Lee steams into bowl pairing with Glenn McGrath. Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur and Shakib form the trio that is Bangladesh’s first line of attack that is bolstered by Mashrafe Mortaza and Taskin. If these 5 have an off day, there is little evidence that the rest can more than make up the vacuum. That’s the gaping leak in the bucket, as Bangladesh prepares to hope that it puts up a performance that can see it play in the semi-finals at Sydney on their Independence Day.
India, on the other hand is sitting pretty. Dhoni is the only survivor from that moment 2 world cups ago, when Tamim Iqbal charged against Zaheer Khan to show intent. India will be hoping that in a fit of bravado Bangladesh end up with some thing Don-quixotic as usual when they show a false display of aggressions. India themselves have tread on that path, with Zaheer Khan again, trying to mentally beat the Aussies at their game-Sledging- during the 2003 World Cup final and being on the receiving end of a pasting that set the tone for the match. India has all their boxes ticked and look a formidable side that turns near invincible with the crowd support at the MCG. India, like Bangladesh doesn’t have anyone who can blow away or intimidate the opposition just yet, but have people who have quietly done the job and moved the needle when required. India have not had an off day yet at the World Cup, and even if they do, they should be in a position to force a victory.
Verdict- India beat Bangladesh by 7 wickets or more, or win by 120 runs or more. If I am right, I may as well start my own betting syndicate.