This is as much of a sad derby as it is a subcontinental derby. But ahead of England’s title defence, Bangladesh and Pakistan are the bottom two teams on the form table, having jointly lost their last nine matches in this competition. In a series of events that have become tiresomely predictable, off-field drama has overshadowed the lack of on-field achievement. Shakib Al Hasan bizarrely went back to Bangladesh to work on his batting technique after the match against South Africa, while in Pakistan, allegations of unpaid wages, player power and PCB incompetence and malfeasance had already led to the World Cup. The display has faded.
While Pakistan is trying to delay returning home for at least one more game, Bangladesh are yet to try to book a flight to Pakistan in 2025. The ICC announced late that the top eight finishers will earn qualification for this World Cup. The 2025 Champions Trophy means Bangladesh have something to fight for as their 87-run defeat to the Netherlands has officially made them the first team to be eliminated from the semi-final race. Meanwhile, New Zealand’s close defeat at the hands of Australia has opened a small window of opportunity for Pakistan to make inroads in historically Pakistan-like conditions, provided they win their remaining games and New Zealand lose their matches.
However, none of these sides have earned the right to talk about the semi-finals. Bangladesh’s campaign began with bright optimism after a respectable performance in the Asia Cup, in which they finished third, followed by a thumping win over Sri Lanka in a warm-up game. Afghanistan’s crushing defeat in the opening game against England was backed up by a half-decent performance which, given the latter’s recent form, looks to be a far more impressive performance than he was given credit for . But they have collapsed spectacularly since then, failing to come close to a win in any of their last five games, with their narrow defeat to the Dutch being the last one.
Pakistan is still drinking that poisonous mixture of hope and the threat of recrimination. The two wins began with a few cracks, with India, Australia, Afghanistan and South Africa ripping the paper to expose the barrenness of the structure they were building on. Injuries and a mysterious collective loss of form have meant that this team has degenerated from the team that was ranked number one in this format just six weeks ago.
With Babar Azam under pressure due to his poor performance as captain and his domestic cricket board, Pakistan will want to avoid getting into the ring of fire they will be in upon returning home. And against Bangladesh they have a chance to deliver a performance that will allow them to continue dreaming. For now, it seems like that’s all they have.
bangladesh LLLLLL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
in the headlines
shakib al hassan The World Cup campaign has not been worth talking about, but he is always in the headlines because of who he is and what he has done in his 17-year career. Especially in the last week when he went to Dhaka for two batting sessions with his childhood mentor. While this may be unusual, Shakib has done this before, but it has come back to haunt him after Bangladesh’s defeat to the Netherlands. He faced the media twice in three days and on Tuesday said he was about to take action. Now we have to wait for him to do so.
This is probably no coincidence Mohammad RizwanHis success with the bat matches that of his team. In their first two matches, in which their wicketkeeper converted starts to scores of 68 and 131*, Pakistan put four points on the board. But since then, what has generally been a Pakistani batting problem has also been a Rizwan problem. Like most of Pakistan’s middle-order, Rizwan has bought himself in and, before any real damage could be done, he got himself out. The reason for this has often been poor shot selection in the last four matches – each of which Pakistan has lost. His team lost momentum at crucial junctures as they were out for 49, 46 and 31 runs against India, Australia and South Africa. When Rizwan goes deep, Pakistan starts performing well, which will neither be a loss for them nor for the opposition.
Fakhar Zaman is fully fit and considering Imam-ul-Haq’s struggles, he may get another chance. Shadab Khan could not bowl against South Africa due to injury and is not expected to be fit to play, giving Usama Mir another chance. Mohammad Nawaz’s troubles with the ball mean that a batting all-rounder in the form of Salman Ali Aga will replace him.
Pakistan: 1 Abdullah Shafiq, 2 Imam-ul-Haq/Fakhar Zaman, 3 Babar Azam (captain), 4 Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), 5 Saud Shakeel, 6 Iftikhar Ahmed, 7 Salman Ali Aga, 8 Usama Mir, 9 Mohammad Wasim/ Hasan Ali, 10 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 11 Haris Rauf.
Bangladesh had a bit of a scare during training when Shakib walked off the bat with neck pain. However he received treatment, had some bandages applied and returned to bat without any problems.
bangladesh (Possible): 1 Liton Das, 2 Tanjeed Hasan, 3 Mehdi Hasan Miraj, 4 Nazmul Hussain Shanto, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (c), 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mahedi Hasan, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Noisy Islam.
pitch and conditions
The weather is expected to be bright and sunny and warm. Although there is no information about the pitch yet, it is the same venue where the low-scoring match between Netherlands and Bangladesh was played on Saturday.
Statistics and General Knowledge
- Since Bangladesh gained Test status, they have qualified for the first round of the ODI World Cup more times than Pakistan – twice in five attempts.
- Until last week, Pakistan had not lost to South Africa in an ODI World Cup since 1999. This was the last time they lost to Bangladesh in an ODI World Cup.
- Three of Bangladesh’s four all-time top ODI run-scorers – Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah – are part of the current squad.
Daniel Rasool is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @danny61000