Sunday, September 23, 2018

Asia Cup Super Four: Afghanistan vs Bangladesh Preview

Asia Cup Super Four: Afghanistan vs Bangladesh Preview Cricket Blog CricBlog Cricket Preview

The laughs continue in Asia Cup 2018. From the scheduling farce to Bangladesh players and selectors not even knowing that two players have been brought into the squad, it's just been peak banter at times. But amid all that, there is a high stakes clash today - the complete opposite of Thursday's clash between these two sides.

Asia Cup Super Four: Pakistan vs India Preview

Asia Cup Super Four: Pakistan vs India Preview Cricket Blog CricBlog Cricket Preview
Image Credit: IndiaFantasy

The 2nd ODI of the India v Pakistan three-match bilateral ODI series Asia Cup battle is here. After an incredibly one-sided contest on Wednesday, here is hoping that one of cricket's most colourful rivalries will light up an Asia Cup tournament that is somewhat flickering right now.

Pakistan, for all their pre-tournament expectations (from myself, also), have somewhat underwhelmed so far. Chasing 250+ against a good Afghanistan attack in these conditions will give them confidence, but that they let Afghanistan reach that mark could be cause for concern. Their fielding, where they dropped five catches, was an abomination. However, win here would confirm a spot in the Final, and what better way to do it than by beating arch-rivals India?

While Pakistan have been underwhelming in their last two outings, the opposite can be said of India. After a scratchy, somewhat nervy, win over Hong Kong, the Indians have burst into gear with huge wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh. These two victories have been on the back of their bowling, forcing an unbelievable 190 dot balls against sorry Bangladesh on Friday, paving the way for their in-form top order to cruise to the target once again.

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Key to a Pakistan win

While India have been very clinical in their last two performances, they are not without any concerns. Ravindra Jadeja is batting at seven, and while India have decent talent on paper in the middle order, they are yet to suggest they can grab a game by the scruff of the neck in recent times. Can Pakistan get early wickets, and then maintain pressure with more aggressive bowling and better catching than on display vs Afghanistan?

In addition to their bowling throughout their innings, their death bowling was poor. Usman Khan and Hasan Ali were unable to force dot balls at the end, bowling far too many hittable balls. 

Afghanistan getting to 250+ was a big ask for Pakistan to chase, but Shoaib Malik's experience and know-how got his team home. Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam set things up with a patient, but important stand, but much more is needed from the likes of Fakhar Zaman and Sarfraz Ahmed. Fakhar in particular is probably dreaming of Zimbabwe right now - he is looking to avoid his third duck in a row.

Key to an India win

Such is India's confidence with the ball right now that they are willing to bowl first in the UAE heat, and they have been magnificent in executing their plans. Across their last two games vs Pakistan and Bangladesh, India have conceded just 335 runs in 92.2 overs, testament to the planning and execution involved in their bowling and fielding efforts.

Ravindra Jadeja will sure be looking to build the pressure on the Pakistani batsmen, but much depends also on the impressive Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah opening burst. They rocked Pakistan with two early wickets on Wednesday, which forced the men in green to crawl along a little in attempt of a recovery. Can India's impressive attack combine again to reach the Final?

Also, in addition to the bowlers, Rohit Sharma has been in fine touch. His 80* on Friday was his second successive fifty, and he remains a vital key to India's chances today along with Shikhar Dhawan. Can the top order step up, and be backed up effectively by the middle order if required?

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Possible XIs

Pakistan were short of spin options against Afghanistan, which nearly came back to haunt them. Shadab Khan could be fit to play today, which will be a huge boost. Shaheen Afridi was unlucky against Afghanistan, but it remains to be seen whether he or Haris Sohail play in this one.

Pakistan possible XI: 1. Fakhar Zaman, 2. Imam-ul-Haq, 3. Babar Azam, 4. Shoaib Malik, 5. Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), 6. Asif Ali, 7. Shadab Khan, 8. Mohammad Nawaz, 9. Shaheen Afridi, 10. Hasan Ali, 11. Usman Khan

India, with the chance to qualify for the Final, should stick with the same team. A win here can enable them to rotate players in the last Super Four game against Afghanistan.

India possible XI: 1. Rohit Sharma (c), 2. Shikhar Dhawan, 3. Ambati Rayudu, 4. Dinesh Karthik, 5. MS Dhoni (wk), 6. Kedhar Jadhav, 7. Ravindra Jadeja, 8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9. Kuldeep Yadav, 10. Jasprit Bumrah, 11. Yuzvendra Chahal

Stats and Facts

  • The last four India-Pakistan matches have been one-sided. The results read: eight wickets, 180 runs, 124 runs, 76 runs.

  • Rohit Sharma needs 94 runs to reach 7,000 ODI runs. Eight Indian batsmen have previously reached this mark.

  • Babar Azam plays his 50th ODI today.

  • Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs four wickets to reach 100 in ODIs, and Yuzvendra Chahal needs two to reach 50.


Pakistan is a side that can step up and surprise us all when we least expect it. India need to guard against this possibility today, but they are looking a well-oiled machine today.

The India-Pakistan prediction on Wednesday was not good from me, so hoping for better luck today! India to win and reach the Final.

Thanks for reading!

PS, looking to improve your cricketing skills? More wickets? More runs? More fun? Check out some great tips from Cricket Secrets! You can visit here.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Asia Cup Super Four: Afghanistan vs Pakistan Preview

Asia Cup 2018 Super Four: Afghanistan vs Pakistan Preview Cricket Blog CricBlog
Image credit: AFP

Like Bangladesh v India, it is a battle of the thrashers vs. the thrashed from the last start efforts, with more at stake in the Super Four stage. I do sound like a whinging baby at times, but with a day off tomorrow for all teams, Afghanistan might be wondering why the game is today instead of tomorrow. For us fans, it would have perhaps been more fitting to catch every game properly, which will be a challenge today, given both games are on at the same time.

Asia Cup Super Four: Bangladesh vs India Preview

After a bit of a debacle in terms of Group Stage scheduling, the Super Four stage is here. One side is coming off one hell of a belting, and another is coming off giving one. If someone predicted that the India vs Hong Kong match would the most competitive out of the six so far, you would have asked them about what they had for breakfast. Or, perhaps, if they had been smoking something.

In regards to this clash, India and Bangladesh have had a few good ODI battles over the last few years, and after a Group Stage that was bereft of competitive battles, one can hope for a good game here.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Asia Cup 6th Match: Bangladesh vs Afghanistan Preview

Asia Cup 6th Match: Bangladesh vs Afghanistan Preview Cricket Blog CricBlog

Imagine having a schedule so stupid that it genuinely doesn't matter where you finish, and where teams are forced to play second string XIs just to give themselves a chance of avoiding burnout. The scheduling has forced the sixth match, like the fifth between Pakistan and India, to be a dead-rubber instead of one that could have at least had some context to it.

Regardless if Bangladesh win this match, the tournament has been set up in such a way that they will play India in Dubai tomorrow. India had to play two days in a row, but at least both were in Dubai, where Bangladesh will have to move from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and play a big game within hours. Mashrafe Mortaza has expressed his disappointment, and it is disappointing that this is the topic of conversation instead of the cricket. With players expected (and rightly so) to be rested, can the fringe players for Bangladesh impress?

For Afghanistan, they are due to play Pakistan. With an extra day's rest after this clash, they can afford to play the same side that pummeled Sri Lanka, and continue building confidence ahead of the Super Four stage. In the three T20Is between the sides in June, where Afghanistan won 3-0, the spinners were on song. Can the batsmen show the fight they did against Sri Lanka, backed up by Afghanistan's impressive spin attack, led by birthday boy Rashid Khan?

Key to a Bangladesh win

Tamim Iqbal is out of the tournament with injury, and there is a possibility the likes of Shakib, Mushfiqur and Mashrafe will be rested. It would make sense to give fringe players in the setup a chance to impress, and give fans hope for the future.

The big question is - can Bangladesh effectively handle Afghanistan's spin brigade? Bangladesh, with more experienced players that they are likely to have today, have struggled against quality spin in the past, so positive footwork and rotation of the strike is vital. A player like Mominul Haque could be a good addition today to help hold the innings together.

However, Bangladesh's best chance is dismissing Afghanistan for a low score. Batting is Afghanistan's weaker point, so Bangladesh have to target that with the sort of aggressive bowling they displayed against Sri Lanka last Saturday.

Key to an Afghanistan win

Afghanistan's 3-0 T20I series win over Bangladesh earlier this year stemmed from the spinners being too good. What will have alarm bells ringing among those associated with Bangladesh was Afghanistan's total dominance over Sri Lanka, with each of Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman taking two wickets at low economy rates. Against a side possibly missing experienced, seasoned stars, Afghanistan have a great chance of joining India as the only two undefeated sides in the tournament.

Also, in what was a pleasant surprise, Afghanistan's batting held up quite well in their win over Sri Lanka. Rahmat Shah was the backbone, with support from those around him, and the same will be key for Afghanistan today. Can they finish off a little better if in a similar position?

Possible teams

As mentioned, it would make sense for Bangladesh to make changes, such as the truly magnificent scheduling on display in this tournament. The likes of Mominul Haque and Abu Hider could get a run.

Bangladesh possible XI: 1. Liton Das, 2. Nazmul Hossain Shanto, 3. Mominul Haque/Shakib Al Hasan, 4. Mushfiqur Rahim/Ariful Haque, 5. Mahmudullah, 6. Mosddek Hossain, 7. Mohammad Mithun, 8. Mashrafe Mortaza/Nazmul Islam, 9. Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 10. Rubel Hossain, 11. Mustafizur Rahman/Abu Hider

For Afghanistan, they will have a day off after this, but have the option if resting some players if they wish.

Afghanistan possible XI: 1. Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2. Ihsanullah, 3. Rahmat Shah, 4. Asghar Afghan (c), 5. Hashmatullah Shahidi, 6. Mohammad Nabi, 7. Najibullah Zadran, 8. Gulbadin Naib, 9. Rashid Khan, 10. Aftab Alam, 11. Mujeeb Ur Rahman

Stats and Facts

  • Bangladesh have won three of five ODIs vs Afghanistan, but this is the first meeting between the sides in the UAE.

  • Afghanistan beat Bangladesh 3-0 in the T20I series earlier this year.

  • Mashrafe Mortaza is four wickets away from 250 ODI wickets, and Rahmat Shah will likely play his 50th game today.


It's incredible to think Bangladesh play again tomorrow, which puts them at a disadvantage today, in my opinion.

Afghanistan to win, on the back of their bowling.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Asia Cup 5th Match: India vs Pakistan Preview + Dream11

Asia Cup 5th Match: India vs Pakistan Preview + Dream11 Cricket Blog CricBlog Cricket Preview
Image credit: IndiaFantasy

Stop the press. We have an India vs Pakistan game. The first since Pakistan's amazing victory in the Champions Trophy Final last year.

The two favourites for the tournament go head-to-head in what must be called a relatively low key clash, given both sides have already qualified for the Super Four with contrasting wins over Hong Kong.

But, in reality, there is no such thing as a low key India vs Pakistan clash. In its rarity, you will discover its beauty, deriving from an incredible rivalry. Neither team will want to lose this one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Asia Cup 4th Match: India vs Hong Kong Preview + Dream11

Asia Cup 4th Match: India vs Hong Kong Preview + Dream11 Cricket Blog CricBlog Cricket Preview

Probably the worst game you could hope for in the need for a competitive match.

Mainly thanks to Sri Lanka's inept displays, this Asia Cup tournament is bereft of any competitiveness so far. It's hard to think that the fourth match will be any different.

Asia Cup Super Four: Afghanistan vs Bangladesh Preview

The laughs continue in Asia Cup 2018. From the scheduling farce to Bangladesh players and selectors not even knowing that two players h...