Nottingham: Bangladesh doesn’t have to knock off Australia on Thursday to reach the Cricket World Cup semi-finals.
It would be a massive step in that direction if they did, though.
To break up the leading four of England, Australia, New Zealand and India, Bangladesh ought to beat at least one of them.
Chances were missed against New Zealand and England, the only two losses in five group games for Bangladesh so far.
Australia is the next chance, at Trent Bridge.
Bangladesh has only one win against Australia in 20 One-day Internationals, in 2005 in Cardiff. Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza is the only survivor from either side. He trapped Australia opener Adam Gilchrist for a duck.
Australia reacted to the shock defeat a week later by crushing Bangladesh by 10 wickets with 31 overs to spare. The Australians haven’t lost to Bangladesh again, and never in the World Cup, and the odds are strong the streak will continue on Thursday.
But this isn’t the once-in-a-blue-moon Bangladesh of old. The players are breathing rarefied air at this World Cup. They posted their highest ODI score of 330 in their World Cup opener, and South Africa was flattered to get within 21 runs of them. They went on to achieve their highest run chase, reaching 322 to demoralise the West Indies by seven wickets with eight overs left.
Mashrafe, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah — Bangladesh’s top five ODI appearance-makers with nearly a combined 1,000 — have been the backbone of the team’s rise to respectability. They are playing their last World Cup together and enjoying rolling the dice.
So far, so good.
Meanwhile, all-rounder Marcus Stoinis is not guaranteed to play against Bangladesh but is being retained in Australia’s World Cup squad after fighting his way back to fitness, coach Justin Langer has confirmed.
Stoinis missed last week’s victories over Pakistan and Sri Lanka due to a side strain suffered in their loss to India, prompting Mitchell Marsh to be flown in as cover.
Marsh headed off to join the Australia A team in Northampton on Tuesday while Stoinis was back in the nets bowling as he presses for selection against Bangladesh at Trent Bridge.
Langer said he was “a chance” to play against Bangladesh but stopped short of confirming he would take part.
“He’s done everything possible to get himself fit,” Langer said.