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The Financial Express

Bangladesh’s group stage equation in upcoming T20 World Cup


Reuters file photo Reuters file photo

The official groupings for the T20 World Cup 2021 have been released by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Bangladesh will have to play the first round to qualify for the Super 12 after failing to secure a spot in the top eight of the ICC T20 team rankings. Tigers are placed in Group B where they have to compete with three very promising associate nations like Scotland, Oman, and Papua New Guinea to win a ticket to the next round.

Although Bangladesh is expected to win all three of the first-round matches, it is easier said than done. Bangladesh have so far played only one T20 match against the Scottish side where they suffered a 34-run defeat. On the other hand, host Oman will give it their all with the home ground advantage. Similarly, teams like Papua New Guinea can come as a surprise package considering their optimistic run in the qualifiers where they managed to defeat stronger opponents like the Netherlands (the same Dutch side, to whom Bangladesh suffered defeat on one previous occasion). Moreover, all three teams have experience playing T20s in UAE. Bangladesh might have to juggle with the unfamiliar conditions too.

On paper, Bangladesh is a way better side than the other competitors in the group. However, despite having one of the most experienced teams in the competition, some old memories will always haunt them in their way forward. A big upset against Hong Kong in the first round of the 2014 edition of the T20 World Cup means now they have no scope to underestimate their opponents.

If the Tigers manage to reach the Super 12 by becoming the group champions, they will have to face India, Pakistan, New Zealand, and Afghanistan. A group consisting of Asian heavyweights and the third-ranked T20 team in the world, it will be a tough challenge for Mahmudullah and Co. Afghanistan, despite being the weakest of the four, has an impressive track record against Bangladesh, where they are leading by 4-2 in head to head. It’s worth mentioning that the Afghans, since 2017, have played 8 matches in UAE and haven’t lost any. Likewise, Pakistan also have a clean record in the last 11 matches that they played in the Emirates.

Contrarily, if Bangladesh fail to clinch the number one spot and progress as runners up of Group B, they will have to play against Australia, England, South Africa, and West Indies. Assuming that happens, Bangladesh will feel slightly more comfortable, considering the fact that by then they will be prepared against teams like Australia and England, as they are supposed to tour Bangladesh right before the World Cup.

Besides, Australia haven't really done well in UAE, losing 3 out of the 4 T20 matches they played from 2014-2018. In addition, since 2018, the head-to-head comparison between Bangladesh and West Indies are levelled on 3-3, meaning they are on equal terms. Hence, it will be interesting to see how the Tigers turn up in the biggest cricketing event of the year.

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