23rd over: Bangladesh 117-2 (Shakib 39, Mushfiqur 19) Afghanistan are back in need a wicket territory and after Dawlat cedes four from his first three balls, he beats Mushfiqur outside off. Of course, karma takes its revenge, Mushfiqur swinging at the next one and top-edging four over the keeper’s head. Two more follow to third man, and this is getting away from Afghhanistan now – that’s 10 off the over.
“When Carlos Brathwaite was doing his best to drag West Indies over the line against New Zealand,” emails Adithya, “it struck me that if Brathwaite took a single off the last ball of the over to retain strike, the New Zealand fielder could throw the ball over the boundary in order to make it a four and get the No. 11 batsman on strike.
This tactic only has application in a very particular kind of situation. 20-30 runs to defend against an explosive batsman who might knock it off with boundaries and a tailender whose wicket will give you the game. Have you ever seen or heard of any teams resorting to this?”
I’ve not, but I like it very much indeed. The problem is the risk, I guess – you’d look pretty silly if it failed – and, of course, though the laws permit it, assuming the laws permit it, it probably “isn’t cricket”.
22nd over: Bangladesh 107-2 (Shakib 36, Mushfiqur 12) This is such clever batting, keeping the scoreboard ticking without taking risks. Sounds simple, isn’t simple.
21st over: Bangladesh 103-2 (Shakib 35, Mushfiqur 9) This is such a key innings from Shakib. Obviously his team need the runs, but there’s more to it than that – it’s essence of captaincy. Even in cricket, where the job is about more than shouting and cajoling, in the end, its key aspect is leading from the front, especially at crucial times. This, there can be no doubt, is that. He takes two from the first ball of the over, nurdled to mid off, then adds a single to fine leg. Mushfiqur then edges one more, a wide follows, then another single into the leg side and that’s eight from what seemed like quiet over.
20th over: Bangladesh 95-2 (Shakib 31, Mushfiqur 6) Rashid continues and is milked; I wonder if, in years to come, he’ll see this competition as an important staging-post in his development, or just hate playing in England. Six off the over.
“As refreshing as it is to see English supporters politely clap after every boundary or wicket,” says Abhijato Sensarma, “I’ve always liked the spirit of subcontinental supporters more.
Seeing the pure passion of the Afghan fans pleases me to no end. It could well be the sole reason I tune into every match they are at. Even today, they seem to be perennially happy to be here.
This contingent is a synecdoche for the sense of pride, nationalism and inspiration sport is meant to encourage. No matter what happens on the pitch today, no admirer of cricket can resist giving their best of luck to Afghanistan and its fans going forward. Here’s to hoping each one of us is as happy and passionate as them about something in our lives, be it our career, our partner, or the thing all souls turn to some time or the other – sport at its glorious best.”
I’m not sure you’ve correctly characterised an English crowd. It’s like that at Lord’s, but not anywhere else, and even there, we can wonder if the politeness is sincere. But in general I agree, rowdiness and abandon are beauties of sport, provided they’re natural and refrain from cringe.
19th over: Bangladesh 89-2 (Shakib 29, Mushfiqur 2) Dawlat returns and cedes just a single from his first four deliveries, then tries a bouncer that’s also wide, so is called wide. Shakib then opens the face and guides his next ball wide of slip; Asghar does really well to catch up with it and save the boundary as the batsmen run two then have a drink.
“We’re puzzled by the verb ‘to squanty”’, tweets G.L. Sherwood. “A cursory internet search throws up just one other use, in 2017, by a certain, hang on, er, Daniel Harris. Are you messing with us or what?”
Would I ever? I’d love to claim the neologism, but the truth is that those who use it are not really into internets. When you squanty something – you usually squanty it down – you sort it out. It can often relate to a slightly dodgy activity, though it needn’t.
18th over: Bangladesh 85-2 (Shakib 27, Mushfiqur 1) Suddenly it’s all going off! Bangladesh are still pretty well-set, but if Afghanistan can find another, everything changes.
Or is it! Shakib goes upstairs, and might he just be ok on height? YES HE IS! NOT OUT!
WICKET! Shakib lbw b Rashid Khan 31 (Bangladesh 82-3)
Rashid bowls on a length, deceives Shakib with some extra bounce and raps him on the knee-roll! Up goes the fingers, and it’s two in two!
17th over: Bangladesh 82-1 (Tamim 36, Shakib 26) “While I’m all for countering the pervasive influence of the
BCCI wherever possible,” says Alex Bramble, “they do occasionally happen on something vaguely intelligent: see the IPL eliminator. So I (and a few other OBOers over the past couple of weeks) suggest: two groups of 7, top-placed team in each group goes straight into the semi-finals, second- and third-placed teams play each other in two ‘quarter’- finals/eliminators.”
Yes, I could live with that. What we need is jeopardy, more teams to grow the game, and enough scope for classics at the business end.
WICKET! Tamim Iqbal b Nabi 36 (Bangladesh 82-2)
What comeback from Nabi, who bowls full and Tamim comes forward when he should go back, plays for more turn than there is, and the clatter tells him what’s up. My word Afghanistan needed that!
17th over: Bangladesh 82-1 (Tamim 36, Shakib 31) Nabi continues and the batsmen take single apiece, then two dots before Tamim absolutely cleanses a short one to the fence at midwicket.
16th over: Bangladesh 76-1 (Tamim 31, Shakib 25) Rashid Khan into the attack, and his team need something from him – he’s only got four wickets in this tournament, and that’s not really enough given his status. The batsmen have a look at him and Tamim takes a two into the leg side.
15th over: Bangladesh 74-1 (Tamim 30, Shakib 24) This is really impressive from Bangladesh, who have this track squantied right down; they’re keeping the scoreboard ticking without taking risks, then meting out treatment to the balls which demand it. This over yields only one, to Shakib, but the platform is set.
14th over: Bangladesh 73-1 (Tamim 30, Shakib 23) Tamim loses patience and twinkles down the track as Gulbadin releases to shmice him down the ground for four. Four singles follow, then Shakib attacks a short one that sits up and begs to be hit; he obliges with a pull to the midwicket fence and is now tournament’s leading run-scorer. He and his team are getting away.
Incidentally, I have now received about 57 different suggestions for how to structure this thing of ours, which tells you how hard it is. Shall we just have a fight instead? Or perhaps a quiz on Engoish cricket from the mid-80s to the mid-90s.
13th over: Bangladesh 56-1 (Tamim 20, Shakib 21) Bangladesh will be happy with this. First, Nabi finds so much turn that it costs him a wide, then they milk him for a two and two ones. If these two bat for another 45 minutes, that might just be the game.
“That’s not disrespect for GnR,” says Smylers, “this is disrespect for GnR — a cover version I was blissfully unaware of till it featured as a question on PopMaster this morning.”
I should add that Sarah O’Regan has since emailed thusly: “Oh no, I didn’t mean to slight GnR – far from it – I merely meant that the musician plays it a little too slow and a little too flat to be an accurate representation.”
I trust she will now called off her lawyers.
12th over: Bangladesh 56-1 (Tamim 19, Shakib 18) Gulbadin Naib into the attack and Shakib flips two to backward square to raise Bangladesh’s fifty. Next ball, a leading edge to point – he was looking for midwicket – but with the fielders pushed back, no one was on hand to claim what would’ve been a dolly. I wonder, though, if Gulbadin has missed a trick here – the outfield is slow and his team need wickets, so put men in wicket-taking positions. A two and three singles follow, which is to say that Afghanistan need something and fast.
11th over: Bangladesh 49-1 (Tamim 18, Shakib 12) Mujeeb is struggling to exert pressure here. The batsmen take him for four, a two to Tamim and a single apiece, and I fancy he’ll be getting thanked pretty soon.
“Some countries do have special fans,” emails John Starbuck, “not least Pakistan and West Indies. For England, it’s the whole Barmy Army, which rather puts the kibosh on making a feature of it on the screens. But then, so many people (these days) are so used to appearing on screen, they probably barely notice older followers’ disdain.
I was a teenager in the 50’s and 60’s and wouldn’t mind the guitar man if only he learned to play Link Wray’s ‘Rumble’; a real classic.”
Sure, everyone’s special and all that, but the artificial and performative nature of it all makes my teeth itch. I can think of little worse than a day at the cricket next to any kind of army or band.
10th over: Bangladesh 44-1 (Tamim 15, Shakib 10) Tamim shoves one to midwicket, then Nabi offers Shakib some width and he doesn’t need asking twice, clattering four through backward point. A single follows, then Tamim bunts down the ground; they run one, then another when a shy flies past the stumps. That’s Bangladesh’s best over in a while, nine from it.
9th over: Bangladesh 35-1 (Tamim 12, Shakib 4) The pitch is a little slow here, which might make for drama later on, but isn’t great for entertainment in the first instance, a little like in the South Africa-New Zealand match. In limited overs, we don’t necessarily need balance between bat and ball because even on a 400 track, a bowler can make the difference, but if we reckon that a 330-350 track is ideal, you want the ball coming on so there’s pace for the quick and strokemakers, along with dryness for the spinners. One off the over, and that a wide.
8th over: Bangladesh 34-1 (Tamim 12, Shakib 4) Three more singles from the over, and Afghanistan have slowed the socring; can they create a little more pressure?
“The simple and easy answer,” says Nick Parish, “is four groups of four, top two in each group go through to the quarter-finals. Yes, I know it doesn’t guarantee India get 73 games, but how much protection do the big countries need? Football, not normally a good example of anything, manages to deal with it when the big countries don’t make the knockout stage (hello Germany 2018, hello England, Spain and Italy 2014).”
I’m not sure about this one – I don’t think there’d be much jeopardy for the bigger nations, who’d largely avoid each other until the end. What I like about the current format is that there are heavyweight contests all the way through.
7th over: Bangladesh 31-1 (Tamim 10, Shakib 3) Tamim takes a single, then Shakib nudges to point and sets off. A better throw from Shinwari and Tamim’s got a situation, but it’s wild and he makes it easily. He then adds another single and is looking nicely settled.
6th over: Bangladesh 28-1 (Tamim 8, Shakib 2) Mohammad Nabi into the attack and Tamim takes him for a single to deep square, the first of three in the over.
“I was at Headingley on Friday (I know, Jonah),” says Ben Powell, “and despite the result thoroughly enjoyed the day but for one or two interruptions. The cricket bat guitar and some sort of “greatest fan” cam that popped up at regular, infuriating intervals. The cricket bat guitar is crass and pointless IMHO (as I understand the kids say), but the greatest fan thing was just hopeless. Every time it came up, cue a couple of nervous looking fans, embarrassingly and half-heatedly waving at the camera, which always lingered just that little too long. Cue also less than zero reaction from the rest of the crowd. I’ve been to baseball and ice hockey in the States and Canada where they do this sort of thing regularly and it goes down a storm. That’s where such manufactured atmosphere should stay. Harrumph.”
Yes, I’d agree with that. Let people enjoy the sport and enjoy their company – there’s no need to coordinate their fun for them, or entice them to behave in a particular manner.
5th over: Bangladesh 25-1 (Tamim 6, Shakib 1) My days, Afghanistan needed that, not because bangladesh have got away but because their entire strategy is predicated on early wickets. They know they can’t chase a biggie, so need to get to work from the off.
I really don’t know! If the soft signal is not out, this is not out, because the evidence is inconclusive – it looks like there are fingers under the ball, but there’s a fair chance it hits the ground nonetheless. Hashmatullah’s head is up so he probably doesn’t know himself, but the umpires have no option: they stay with the onfield decision.
WICKET! Liton Dias c Hashmatullah Shahidi b Mujeeb 16 (Bangladesh 23-1)
And there it is! Liton drives and, down on one knee, Hashmatullah pouches it at short cover … or is it? The soft signal is out…
4th over: Bangladesh 23-0 (Liton 16, Tamim 5) Dawlat overpitches and Liton twizzles him through midwicket, but the damp outfield permits him only three. Tamim then takes strike and plays three dots, before stepping into an uppish drive which flies just wide of Ashar mid off – he’s far to slow to move – and to the fence for four. He plays and misses at the next, but that’s no use to Afghanistan, who badly need a breakthrough.
“I will leave for you to decide if this is McCullum/Morgan-esque fresh and funky thinking or Fakhar Zaman scooping to first slip idiocy (I know which way I’m leaning)“ says Sam Collier, “but what about some kind of squash ladder affair? A roundrobin, teams initially ordered in reverse ICC ranking with the winning team moving one place above the team they defeat. Top four play semis as per the current format. It’d certainly keep the tension going right to the end…”
3rd over: Bangladesh 16-0 (Liton 13, Tamim 1) Three singles from over, Tamim now off the mark.
“In answer to your question, ‘How would you make this competition better?’”, emails Sarah O’Regan, “I suggest incorporating more national musical instruments, to replace the cricket bat guitar and its lugubrious Guns n’ Roses dirge. In its place, the outgoing batsman should nip over to the music stage, play a jolly little ditty on a didgeridoo, a dafli daf, or a rubab, before heading off for the walk of shame.”
I’d lap that up – tangentially, I’ve long since argued that national anthems should be in the national style; basically, what I’m saying is that God Save the Queen needs to be a jungle track, and what I’m also saying is that I’m a teenager of the early nineties, so I’m not having that disrespect for GnR.
2nd over: Bangladesh 13-0 (Liton 11, Tamim 0) Dawlat Zadran starts with two dots, both pitched up, but then a shorter one allows Liton to play off the back foot and he times it away beautifully, behind square on the off side – and for extra points, it tantalises Mujeeb into a long, fruitless chase and dive. Glorious. Two dots follow, then a single.
1st over: Bangladesh 8-0 (Liton 6, Tamim 0) Good start for Bangladesh, Liton taking a single from Mujeeb’s loosener and two wides follow. Liton then cuts a wide one and Rahmat Shah makes a right pig’s arse of the stop, allowing the ball by him and to the fence. A single follows, and already Afghanistan are under pressure.
How would you make this competition better? More teams, I’d say, then maybe two big groups, and we probably need quarter-finals. On the one hand, that’s a lot of games to eliminate not a lot of teams, but those knockouts will draw casual viewers, tutor them in the ways of righteousness, and induct them into this thing of ours. With just semis and a final, we’re asking too much from just three matches.
Afghanistan huddle. I reckon they’re discussing whether it’s a barm or a bun.
Right, anthem time. The intro to Afghanistan’s sounds not unlike Jump Around.
Mathematics corner: I was wondering what people did in offices before the internet, and if the following equation is true.
Work facilitated by the internet = work not done on account of the internet. Otherwise, how has productivity taken a colossal nosedive?
“So, Virat Kohli has been filed his fees for showing dissent,” emails Amod Paranjape. “Dissent my ass. It was pure and simple bullying and intimidation. We should not go on to win the World Cup. But since the universe rarely gives people what they want, we are sure to win it. Eh.”
I see what you’re trying to do there. I don’t know, though – I suppose I tend to err on the side of caution when handing out punishments for stuff that’s central to the drama, edge and attitude of the game – if an umpire can’t stand up to a player, then I’m not certain the problem lies with the player. I also wonder what happens to the money.
Both captains have made two changes. Afghanistan leave out Aftab Alam and Hazratullah Zazai, replaced by Dawlat Zadran and Samiullah Shinwari. As such, Rahmat Shah moves up the order to open instead of Zazai.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, leave out Rubel Hossain and Sabbir Rahman, with Mosaddek Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin coming in.
I’m really looking forward to watching Afghanistan’s spinners – Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman offer such variety and nous. And, though Mark Nicholas and Ian Smith think their team should’ve batted, what’s the point in having good bowlers if they’re trying to defend 180?
Afghanistan win the toss and will field.
That sounds sensible to me – if they don’t bat well, the match is over before it’s started. On the other hand, their bowling is their strong suit, so if they deploy it at the start, they can take control and hang on.
Start delayed by 10 minutes.
Ian Smith isn’t sure why, but thinks he’d bat.
While we wait, wrap yer peepers around this – I love love love Tony Cozier. Wendy Crozier, not so much – though these days, we’d probably call her Wendy Crozeiyay.
The toss has been delayed by 10 minutes, and will now be at 10.10am local time.
It looks on the John Major side of grey in Southampton, but we should be good to go on time.
Public service announcement: I just put on the radio, and heard a minute of a phone-in about Boris Johnson. With every fibre of my being, I urge you not to do the same, which is to say: thank expletive for cricket.
At the risk of sound parochial, you’ve got to love Eoin Morgan’s brave, young England side. Not only are they the greatest one-day outfit there will ever be, but they are also the most altruistic. In deliberately losing to Sri Lanka, they have, in one fell swoop, revitalised their home World Cup. Because of their unique gifts, matches which meant nothing now mean something, and the world is a better place on their account.
Just ask Bangladesh. If they beat Afghanistan today, then India and Pakistan as well, they are through – provided Sri Lanka lose to South Africa, West Indies and India, and England only beat one of Australia, India and New Zealand. And they are capable of doing it. They have plenty of batting, canny bowling, and in Shakib al Hasan have an absolute star. Currently, he is the tournament’s second-highest run-scorer – with a higher strike-rate than both David Warner and Joe Root, who lie first and third – while his bowling is threatening, his leadership absolute and his mentality unflappable. If his team are to do it, it will probably be because of him.
Afghanistan, meanwhile, are 0 and 6, but just the other day gave India an almighty fright. That will have fired their confidence, and helped them believe that they can put everything together – they have plenty of talent, but are still learning the knowhow that will extract the most from it. Yes, they’re a dog, but they’re a live dog.
Play: 10.30am BST