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With Australia and rain combining to give us definitive proof that what goes around really DOES come around, the New Zealand and Bangladesh game at Sofia Gardens becomes virtually a quarterfinal for group A. If England manage to keep up their amazing performance standards and beat Australia, or if the weather makes it: Rain 2- Australia 1 on Saturday, then the winners of New Zealand vs Bangladesh go through. The two sides have met each other on 31 occasions previously in which New Zealand boast a record of 21 wins while Bangladesh have managed just 9 victories with one no result. Bangladesh will look to repeat their performance from Dublin where they beat the Black Caps by 5 wickets a fortnight ago.
The two sides came up against each other in the 2002 edition of Champions Trophy where the Bengal tigers were bundled out by the sheer class and pace of Shane Bond for just 77 runs.
Bangladesh will be expecting their in-form opener Tamim Iqbal to fire for the third time in a row, against a pace-heavy Kiwi bowling attack. The Cardiff track, if it behaves the way it did in the game between England and New Zealand, is not going to be easy to bat on. It did not allow the batsmen to play their shots freely and if it was any batting line up other than the mighty English one (barring India’s perhaps), the score might not have reached 300. For the Kiwis too, only the uber-talented Kane Williamson managed to make a significant score in an otherwise demoralizing batting performance. The Bangladeshi batting line need to step up and support Tamim who has been the lone beacon, but they will have to bring along their A game if they are to score big against a diverse attack that boasts the accuracy of Southee and Anderson, the seam and swing of Boult and the raw pace and aggression of the impressive Adam Milne. The Kiwis will also look to bring Bangladesh under pressure, early in the game with the aid of their explosive opening partnership of Martin Guptill and Luke Ronchi. The deciding factor, however, will be whether the Bangladeshi middle order turns up or not.
New Zealand: Maritn Guptill, Luke Ronchi(wk), Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Neil Broom, James Neesham, Corey Anderson, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim(wk), Shakib al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mashrafe Mortaza(c), Rubel Hossain, Mustafiz ur Rahman.
The fiery Tamim Iqbal has performed for his side in both the games till now, and as the law of averages might be looking to do one on him, Bangladesh will need someone else to rise and keep their side in hunt for the semi finals. Enter Soumya Sarkar. The young Bangladeshi opener looks a phenomenal prospect for Bangladesh. He averages almost 40 and has a strike rate of almost 100 that makes him a player who can make a huge difference for his side if he stays on the crease for long enough.
New Zealand don’t need to look around too much, for a player to make an impact on any game. It's their ever reliable, captain cool, Kane Williamson that can make all the difference in the world with his pure class and talent. He has already scored 4000+ runs in just 113 games and will be a huge threat to Bangladeshi aspirations of reaching the semi finals.
Tamim Iqbal has the most runs in the 2017 edition of the Champions Trophy (223 at an average of 111.5).
England’s 87-run rout of New Zealand on Tuesday was the third largest margin of victory at Sofia Gardens.
Mushfiq ur Rahim has 3 ducks against New Zealand in 20 innings, Bangladesh will really hope the 4th one isn’t made on Friday.