The T20 world cup is almost here, and yet Australia doesn’t seem to be any closer to finding a first choice eleven. Justin Langer will be hoping the upcoming five-match T20 series will cement some positions in the team.
This will be the player’s last opportunity before the world cup to prove that they deserve a spot in the squad.
Many of Australia’s big stars will still be sitting in Australia, having chosen not to tour. In reality, the team in Bangladesh is competing for only a few first eleven spots and the reserve positions.
The last time Australia toured Bangladesh was in 2017 for a two-match test series. The last time for a T20 match was in 2016. Australia has canceled many planned tours to Bangladesh in recent times, Hopefully, this five-match T20 series will start a longer and more beneficial cricketing relationship between the two countries.
Matthew Wade will captain the T20 series with full-time captain Aaron Finch in Australia for surgery on a knee injury. Alex Carey captained the ODI’s against the West Indies and will now likely still play in the eleven but not as captain. While it is good to have so many leaders, it must be confusing for the players, as it is for viewers.
The first of five T20 matches against Bangladesh will begin at 10 pm AEST on Tuesday. All five matches will be live from the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka.
The two nations have only played each other four times. The last of these matches came in 2016 during the World Cup. Both teams have gone through a lot of changes since that game. That match was so long ago that Steve Smith was still the captain, and David Warner batted at four.
Australia has won every T20 in which these countries have competed. Bangladesh will be looking to turn this record around with a much stronger team than in 2016.
The most recent match in any format between these nations was the 2019 ODI World Cup. The match was dominated by David Warner, who smashed 166. and included a special Glenn Maxwell cameo towards the end of the innings. The Australians won that match by 48 runs in a dominant display. Fortunately for Bangladesh, neither Warner nor Maxwell is on tour this time around.
With these countries playing each other so rarely, viewers are in for something different. Australian viewers don’t get to see a lot of the Bangladesh team, so this will be an excellent learning opportunity for many. With many questions around the Aussie team, this five-match series offers Langer and new head selector George Bailey the chance to find Australia’s strongest eleven.
Mitchell Marsh: Marsh has appeared to cement his spot in the Australian lineup after his performances in the Caribbean. Marsh has consistently been in and out of the Australian team. Because of this, he never had the chance to establish himself. Fortunately for him, with many of Australia’s first-choice teams away, Marsh has taken his opportunity.
Against the West Indies, Marsh averaged 43.8, with the bat at a strike rate of 152.08. These are elite numbers by any standard. Marsh has also featured prominently with the ball taking eight wickets in the five games at an average of 11 and significantly, an economy rate of just over six runs per over. The Australians may finally have found a number three batter. If Marsh can keep up this form in this series and onto the World Cup, Australian selectors fay face a dilemma if Steve Smith does return to the fray for the upcoming tournament in the UAE.
Shakib Al Hasan: Shakib has been a class above his Bangladeshi teammates for the best part of a decade. Although he has got into some trouble recently with not reporting a spot-fixing approach and a tantrum during a match, Shakib is essential to Bangladesh’s chances of winning.
A world-class all-rounder in all formats, Shakib’s record is phenomenal in 79 T20 international matches. Shakib averages 24 with the bat. To go along with this, he has also taken 95 wickets. Most importantly though, is an economy rate of only 6.82. For Bangladesh to win even against a weak Australian team, Shakib will need to lead from the front and score big runs and take wickets.
Mitchell Starc: Starc has been the centre of a lot of criticism over the last 12 months, but he showed everyone what he could do in the Caribbean, reminding everyone just how lethal he is with a white ball in hand. The big left-arm fast bowler is beautiful to watch when he is on song. Starc has a huge summer coming up with a World Cup and Ashes to play.
In the recent T20’s against the West Indies, Starc struggled to find his rhythm. He only took one wicket while going for 141 runs. It was, however, the more recent ODI’s where Starc found his form. During the three matches Starc played, he took 11 wickets at an average of only 10. If Starc can carry his ODI form into the T20s against Bangladesh, the Aussies should get across the line.
Mustafizur Rahman: The ‘Fizz’, as he is affectionately known, is one of the world’s best T20 bowlers. He is one of the world’s most sought-after T20 bowlers and has been a consistent fixture throughout recent IPL seasons. His slower balls are more effective than anyone else in world cricket. However, his most amazing ability is to bowl cutters at the same pace as his quickest balls. Not many players can face off cutting balls at 135kph. This makes him a massive threat against the Australians.
In his 43 international T20 matches, Rahman has taken a remarkable 61 wickets. This includes a best bowling of 5/22. His bowling average is also elite at only 21. An issue for ‘The Fizz’ is that he can be a little expensive. He has an economy rate of over eight, which could do with some improvement. The Aussies will need to watch out for his variation as ‘The Fizz’ looks to attack and take wickets.
Mitchell Marsh v Shakib Al Hasan
Twelve months ago, it would’ve been hard to believe that Mitch Marsh would be in the key matchup section. However, with Australia missing so many of its first-choice batsmen, Marsh has a world of pressure upon his huge shoulders. The Bison will bat at three and look to be a leader in an inexperienced batting line-up.
On the other side, Shakib has been a crucial part of Bangladesh’s team for over a decade at this point. Hasan has been a barometer of performance. This was shown during Shakib’s 12 months off, where Bangladesh struggled in every match. Hasan will be essential for Bangladesh if they are to win.
Where the matchup matters are with Marsh batting and Shakib bowling, it is no secret that Marsh prefers the quicker bowlers and struggles against the spinners. If Shakib can get into Marsh early, there is an opportunity to take his wicket.
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Players to Watch
Christian has been the talk of Australian cricket over the last few months. He is clearly one of the senior players at 38 years of age; however, his experience is invaluable. Unfortunately, in his series against the West Indies, he couldn’t cement his spot as Australia’s number seven.
In Christian’s four innings against the West Indies, he averaged 21 with the bat and didn’t manage to take a wicket with the ball. Christian’s best score was 22 not out off 14 balls in Australia’s only win during the series.
It may be the end of his Australian journey for Christian if he doesn’t perform in this series. If he can perform, he will establish himself as Australia’s most important player for the World Cup. Christian offers some important bowling overs as well as his powerful batting. It is just a matter of whether Christian can show his potential against Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s captain will need to lead from the front. He brings a level of experience that isn’t seen throughout the young Bangladesh team. As captain Mahmudullah has a better record than not as captain, with Shakib no longer the captain, Mahmudullah should rise to the occasion against the Australians.
Mahmudullah hasn’t been the player to watch throughout his career. His strike rate isn’t anything to write home about, only 123, but as captain, this has raised to 130. Importantly, his record against Australia is very good. He averages 57 against the Australians, and amazingly this has come from only 39 balls.
Mahmudullah will likely have the privilege of leading his country to a T20 World Cup. Considering Mahmudullah’s record against Australians, he will be one to watch.
Bangladesh will go in with an almost full-strength squad. All the Bangladesh players are available and want not just to make up the numbers at the world cup. Linton Das, the wicketkeeper, will be the only player missing from the Bangladesh first-choice team due to a family matter.
Australia, as they were in the Caribbean, is missing many of its senior plater players. White-ball regulars Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Pat Cummins, David Warner, Marcus Stoinis, Kane Richardson, and Jhye Richardson will all be out of action for the series.
As well as these players Aaron Finch and Riley Meredith will also miss the series. Aaron Finch is out with a knee injury and is now back in Australia for surgery. Riley Meredith is a late pull out of the squad, while Nathan Ellis now comes in as a replacement.
Australia: Josh Phillippe, Matthew Wade (c)(wk), Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Alex Carey, Ashton Turner, Dan Christian, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood, Adam Zampa
Bangladesh: Mohammed Naim, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammed Mahmudullah (c), Afif Hossain, Shamim Hossain, Nurul Hasan (wk), Nasum Ahmed, Mohammed Saifuddin, Taskin Ahmed, Shouriful Islam
Australia: Matthew Wade (c, wk), Ashton Agar, Nathan Ellis, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Riley Meredith, Ben McDermott, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa
Bangladesh: Mahmudullah(c), Nasum Ahmed, Taskin Ahmed, Mahedi Hasan, Nurul Hasan(wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Shamim Hossain, Shoriful Islam, Taijul Islam, Mohammad Mithun, Mohammad Naim, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Saifuddin, Soumya Sarkar