Bangladesh v Afghanistan: Bangladesh to keep slim title hopes alive

Cricketer Shakib Al Hasan
Bangladesh's impressive form has been led by Shakib Al Hasan

Paul Krishnamurty previews Monday's match from the Rose Bowl, for which Bangladesh are strong favourites to make further progress towards an unlikely semi-final appearance...

"One must-bet is Bangladesh to score Most Fours at 4/6...In five innings, they hit between 21 and 37 fours. Afghanistan's comparative figures for six innings range between nine and 25."

Back Bangladesh to hit Most Fours 9u @ 4/6

Bangladesh v Afghanistan
Monday, 10:30 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event

There are three remaining opportunities for Afghanistan to register a win at their first World Cup. Pre-tournament, most observers would have rated today's opponents one of, and perhaps their best, chance of getting that win. Now the later matches against West Indies or Pakistan seem just as likely.

Bangladesh continue to exceed expectations

Whereas other, better recognised cricketing nations, are out, Bangladesh are still very much in this World Cup. Win this and they will be only one point behind fourth-placed England, having played a game more.

That still makes qualification unlikely but bear in mind that England's last three matches against India, Australia and New Zealand. If Bangladesh can win their last three or even two of them - India and Pakistan await - they could stun the hosts.

Beating India will obviously be a huge ask but their performances so far suggest they should not fear anyone in the 'second-tier'. They beat South Africa, thrashed West Indies and lost little in defeat to England, Australia and New Zealand.

In stark contrast to past sides that have struggled in English conditions, this Bangladesh side are keeping up with modern scoring trends. They've passed 300 runs three times in five innings with player of the tournament contender Shakib Al Hasan averaging a superb 106.

Afghans improving as tournament goes on

Afghanistan's chance of a win looks considerably stronger after Saturday's epic match at this ground. To restrict the mighty India to 224 was frankly unbelievable on evidence from their previous five matches, especially conceding 397 to England a few days earlier.

The Rose Bowl pitch was clearly more suited to their slow bowling talents. It is notable that, despite being regularly thrashed, the Afghan bowlers have respectable figures. Three of them - Hamid Hassan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi - have an economy below five.

Rose Bowl totals have been way below par

Saturday's match presents a real conundrum so far as predicting 1st Innings Runs are concerned. India's 224 on a very slow deck was more than 100 runs under par but actually in keeping with the other totals here so far - Windies were out for 212, South Africa 227. Usually however, the Rose Bowl is an excellent batting track. In May, England beat Pakistan 373-361.

The par line will doubtless be much lower as a consequence so, if Bangladesh bat first, my estimate is 280 or more will be around even money. For Afghanistan, I'd say 220.

Were the pitch to be more run-friendly, both lines have 'overs' potential but I will be waiting for signals during the first few overs before drawing any conclusions. Saturday's score here was entirely unpredictable.

This could be closer than odds suggest

Odds of 1.271/4 about a Bangladesh win are about right. On their limited history, perhaps too short. Afghanistan have beaten them three times out of seven, and shared their two most recent matches in 2018. This summer, however, they have been worlds apart.

Nevertheless there is some logic in backing the Afghans, at least as a trade, at 4.57/2. Confidence must be sky high after running India close and that performance proved they are a much better side than we saw in earlier matches.

Bangladesh to hit most fours rated a banker

One must-bet is Bangladesh to score Most Fours at 4/6 - I would price this closer and similar to the match odds. In five innings, they hit between 21 and 37 fours. Afghanistan's comparative figures for six innings range between nine and 25.

Shakib is predictably joint-favourite to top-score for Bangladesh at 3/1 alongside opener Tamim Iqbal. Mushfiqur Rahim, who hit an unbeaten ton against Australia last time, is a tempting 9/2. Liton Das is another with claims at 13/2, on the basis of his superb unbeaten 94 versus Windies.

Star performers Nabi and Naib still good value

No Afghan batsman has reached 200 tournament runs yet and only Hashmatullah Shahidi has passed 150. He's a 4/1 chance to top-score, behind joint 7/2 favourites Rahmat Shah and Noor Ali Zadran. In a wide-open market, I'd rather take 7/1 about the experienced Mohammad Nabi, whose 52 against India was comfortably best.

With the ball, Rashid Khan's World Cup has so far been hugely disappointing - he's taken just four wickets and conceded more than a run per ball. He's consequently much bigger to take most wickets this time at 2/1 but that is still much too short. Captain Gulbadin Naib leads with seven and is much preferred to win this market at 7/2.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

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