Bangladesh will start their World Cup campaign tonight, taking on Scotland in a First Round Group B clash at Muskat at 8.00 pm Bangladesh time.
Both these sides have come with mixed experiences in the recent past. While arriving at the World Cup scene, Bangladesh were high in confidence with home-series victories against Australia (4-1) and New Zealand (3-2) and an away-series win against Zimbabwe (2-1) – all within the last three months.
However, things have not been quite the way Bangladesh expected since then. After defeating Oman XI in an unofficial fixture, Bangladesh have lost both their Warm-up games – one each against Sri Lanka and Ireland.
Nevertheless, this early stutter does not seem to bother the skipper Mahmudullah as EspnCricinfo quoted him saying, "I don't think the losses in the practice matches will have an effect on us. We are only focused on tomorrow's match against Scotland. I think the confidence is intact."
On the other hand, Scotland did not have a good outing against Zimbabwe (1-2) at home in September. However, since their early arrival at the Middle East for participating in the Summer T20 Bash, plans have fallen into place for them.
The Summer T20 Bash was a series of T20Is played in the United Arab Emirates in October 2021 among Ireland, Namibia, Papua New Guinea, Scotland and the hosts as preparation for the World Cup.
In a Warm-up Fixture ahead of the series, Scotland defeated Ireland. In the series, they won against Papua New Guinea and lost against Namibia. However, Scotland have won both of their World Cup warm-up games – one each against Namibia and the Netherlands.
Although Scotland is coming in with momentum, Bangladesh are still the favourite to win this match. Having said that, Bangladesh’s biggest challenge is going to find stability in the batting lineup.
In both the warm-up games, apart from Soumya Sarkar and Nurul Hasan, everyone else has struggled to score. Also, Mahmudullah is set to lead the side tonight with zero practice in this tour so far. To add salt to injury, Shakib Al Hasan joins the team with back-to-back ducks in the IPL playoffs.
Scotland, however, are up for the challenges of Round 1. Their coach Shane Burger has made it clear that Bangladesh do not possess any additional worry for their side as EspnCricinfo quoted him saying, "We don't see Bangladesh being anywhere higher than PNG or Oman in terms of these group games. We know every single team is going to come at us. We will be their biggest game. We are prepped and ready."
These two teams have met each other only once way back in 2012 at Sportpark Westvliet where Scotland had the better of Bangladesh by 34 runs, courtesy of a magnificent ton from Richie Berrington.
The writer is currently studying at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka (IBA-DU).