World Cup Preview: Table toppers Australia look to continue winning run against debutants Bangladesh

The Salma Khatun vs Alyssa Healy battle will be key. © Getty Images

Six-time champions Australia will look to end the group stage unbeaten when they face Bangladesh in their final match of this phase at Basin Reserve in Wellington on Friday (March 25).

Bangladesh are all but out of contention for the semi-finals but they will look to make an impression against the no. 1 ranked team in the world.

What’s at stake

Irrespective of the result of this match, Australia will end the group stage as toppers and they will want to enter the semis with a dominant win after cruising through most of the tournament and steamrolling all opposition.

A chance for fringe players

With Ellyse Perry not available for tomorrow’s match owing to a back spasm, the match will provide a younger member of the team a chance to make a mark and shine on the biggest stage and also put their hand up for a spot in the semis starting XI in case of any more injuries.

Australia’s depth has shone right through this tournament as some first-choice players like Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham, and Sophie Molineux missed out on the squad owing to injuries, while the likes of Ashleigh Gardner and Tahlia McGrath have missed matches at the World Cup owing to testing positive for COVID-19 and injury respectively.

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Can Bangladesh script more history

Murshida Khatun became the first Bangladeshi batter to hit a six in the ODI World Cup in the last match against India and there will be more records that Bangladesh will look to script in the upcoming match.

Impressive as they have been in the first appearance at the World Cup, none of their players have managed to score a 100 or take a four wicket haul in the tournament yet.

Both these teams have never faced each other before in this format and Bangladesh’s best chance may lie in an outstanding individual performance shocking the Australians.

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What they said

“Our bowling unit is doing very well. So what we will do and what we need to work the most on is to fix our batting unit. It has become very important. It turns out that bowlers tried to restrict the opponents to a decent score in all the last matches we played but somehow we couldn’t support them with our batting unit because the top order collapsed.”

–  Nigar Sultana wants Bangladesh’s top order batters to take up more responsibility

“Being left out was not really ideal and yeah was a bit of a tough time, but we all know within this squad that some tough decisions need to be made at different times when we’ve got such a strong squad over here.”

– Jess Jonassen on being left out for the New Zealand game and Australia’s matchups-based selection

Players to watch out for:

Alyssa Healy: Alyssa Healy is already a six-time World Cup winner and been a key part of various victorious teams from Australia. Healy, who turned 32 on Thursday, has already scored two half centuries in the tournament and she will look to go big against Bangladesh’s spin-heavy attack.

Salma Khatun: A former captain and Bangladesh’s lynchpin, Salma Khatun has led Bangladesh’s bowling attack in the tournament, bowling more overs than anyone else while also maintaining an economy rate of below four. Khatun will most likely bowl in the power play and her early strikes will be key if Bangladesh are to restrict Australia.

Numbers:

Head to head: First meeting

  • Fargana Hoque is the only Bangladeshi batter to score a 50 at the ongoing World Cup. She has two 50+ scores and is only five runs away from the being the first from her country to score 1000 ODI runs.
  • Meg Lanning scored a 100 in the last match against South Africa and is the leading run-scorer in the ongoing edition, with 358 runs from six innings, including two 50s beside the 100.

Predicted XI:

Australia: Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy (wk), Meg Lanning (c), Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath, Ashleigh Gardner, Annabel Sutherland, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Megan Schutt, Darcie Brown

Bangladesh: Murshida Khatun, Sharmin Akhter, Fargana Hoque, Nigar Sultana (c & wk), Rumana Ahmed, Lata Mondal, Salma Khatun, Ritu Moni, Fahima Khatun, Nahida Akter, Jahanara Alam