The second day of the World T20 throws up two fascinating fixtures. Bangladesh – the strongest team in the qualifying phase of the tournament – take on a dangerous Netherlands side while Ireland go up against Oman.
Will Wednesday’s fixtures throw up a surprise or two or will Bangladesh and Ireland cruise past their more unfancied opposition?
Bangladesh 1/6 | Draw 35/1 | Netherlands 42/10
Bangladesh come into the World T20 as the highest ranked team still needing to make in through the qualifying phase of the tournament. They’ve been placed in the easier of the qualifying pools alongside Ireland, the Netherlands and Oman; meaning they avoid the likes of Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.
They’re in pretty decent touch heading into this tournament, having just recently lost the final of the Asia Cup to India. They were brilliant in that tournament, only losing to India – in the first game of the tournament as well as in the final. Mashrafe Mortaza and his men claimed convincing victories over the other Asian powerhouses, beating Sri Lanka by 23 runs before comfortably cruising past an out of sorts Pakistan side by five wickets.
It was the perfect preparation following their disappointing home series draw against Zimbabwe in which they surrendered a 2-0 lead to allow the southern Africans to level the series at 2-2. Their strong showing in the Asia Cup underlines just what a threat this team will be provided they don't slip up in the qualifying phase of the Wolrd T20. In fact, it might even be worth your while to throw a bit of money on them to win the tournament at 40/1.
Their squad is wonderfully balanced and primed to do well on the slow Indian wickets. They’ll look to guys like Tamim Iqbal, Shakib al Hasan and their captain, Mashrafe Mortaza to guide them through the competition. I’m most excited to see what Taskin Ahmed can do in this year. A genuine out-and-out quick who is capable of hitting the deck hard and the wicketkeeper’s gloves even harder, look to him to make life extremely uncomfortable for some of the associate nations’ batsmen.
Write this Dutch team off at your own peril – just ask England how dangerous they can be. Many pundits had written them off following their failure to make it past the group phase in the 2014 World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand, however, their form in the World Cricket League Championship and the Four Day Intercontinental Cup has been nothing short of spectacular.
The team’s strength definitely lies in how many foreign nationals have turned their backs on their home nations to play for the Europeans. Guys like Roelof van der Merwe, Stephen Myburgh, Tom Cooper and Wesley Barresi have added strength and depth to a squad that would otherwise struggle to make an impact on the world stage.
Van der Merwe in particular, will have a massive role to play if the Dutch are to get out of their qualifying group. He’s been capped at the highest level for South Africa, and for good reason. He’s more than capable with the ball and is devastating with the bat toward the end of the innings. Myburgh and Cooper are also both more than handy with the bat, and if they can lay a good foundation for van der Merwe; the Dutch are capable of beating even the best teams in the world.
Verdict: Roelof van der Merwe top bat for the Dutch at 10/1
Bangladesh should have very little trouble winning this game, and at 1/6 they offer no value. I’m tipping van der Merwe to top score for the men in orange. The bet offers amazing value, especially if the Dutch top order struggles, which I think it might against a barrage of spin. Don’t stake your house on it, but it’s definitely worth a tickle at 10/1.
Ireland 2/9 | Draw 35/1 | Oman 7/2
The Irish have been one of my favourite teams to watch over the last few years in major ICC events. Massive wins over the likes of Pakistan, Bangladesh, England, Zimbabwe and the West Indies underlined their credentials as a genuine threat to even the best teams in the world.
This, however, could well be Ireland’s last hurrah. The core of the squad, William Porterfield, Naill O’Brien and Kevin O’Brien are all well over 30 with very few youngsters coming through the ranks. Also, their hopes of playing in the 2018 World T20 were scuppered following the move to a four-year tournament cycle.
The men from the Emerald Isle will be looking to their talisman and captain, William Porterfield to guide them through the qualifying round. His ability with the bat at the top of the order will be key if Ireland are to make it through to the Super 10 phase of the competition. His form in the build-up to the World T20 has been excellent – his last six T20 innings scores are as follows: 30, 52, 8, 72, 75* and 31. If he can lay solid foundation, the O’Brien brothers can come in and throw their hands at the ball lower down the order.
Much of their success will rest on the shoulders of their young left-arm spinner, George Dockrell. If he gets it right, he can tear through some of the weaker batting line-ups in the qualifying phase of the competition. A dangerous slow left-arm orthodox bowler, his credientials were underlined when he was named the ICC Associate Player of the Year in 2012.
Whether or not the Irish will be able to deal with the bombardment of spin that Oman will throw at them remains to be seen. Personally, I don’t see them making it out of this group, they aren’t equipped with the tools to deal with the likes of Bangladesh and Oman on these turning wickets.
Oman head into their first flagship ICC event as the lowest ranked side to ever qualify for a World Cup. They’ve had the longest journey of all of the other teams in the competition, as they needed to progress through an additional qualifying leg in regional competition. They finished top of that particular competition above Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the Maldives, Singapore and Kuwait.
The side will be led by Sultan Ahmed, and at 38, is the oldest captain in the tournament this year. He also Oman’s most capped player, having played in 121 of his country’s 131 international matches across all formats. Interestingly enough, Oman are the oldest in the tournament with the average age of the squad coming in at 31.05.
If Oman are to do well in the qualifying phase of the tournament, they will need their three left-arm spinners to come to the party in a big way. Aamir Kaleem will lead the attack, the 34-year-old is Oman’s leading wicket-taker in all T20s having claimed 35 scalps in 37 games. He’s also handy with the bat in the middle order as his 59 against Scotland earlier this year proved.
Verdict: Oman 7/2
I’m sticking my neck out a bit here, but I really do think Oman can cause the first upset of the 2016 World T20. They possess a wealth of quality spinners, and if they hit the right sort of areas early on, then the pressure fall squarely on the shoulders of the Irish batsmen.