It’s a rarity to feature in a game that is inconsequential yet critical. Saturday’s affair between Australia and Bangladesh - the last day game of the Men’s World Cup - will be one such occasion at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium.
Australia, the five-time champion, has already sealed a semifinal place and even confirmed South Africa as its opponent. So what’s in it for Pat Cummins’ men to motivate themselves? As Daniel Vettori, an assistant coach with Australia, joked, it was imperative for them to finish second and get to use the home dressing room for the semifinal at Eden Garden.
For Bangladesh, having been all but assured of the eighth spot in the 2025 Champions Trophy, the team has to ensure a huge defeat. In the absence of captain Shakib Al Hasan, only a defeat bigger than 175 runs will result in Bangladesh slipping below Sri Lanka in the points table.
But Nazmul Hasan Shanto’s men will hope to stun an on-song Australia and end yet another forgettable World Cup campaign on a high. Even if Bangladesh can be competitive, it will help them in moving on from the Angelo Mathews Timed-Out saga.
More than occupying the home dressing room, Australia will be eager to extend its winning run to seven matches and enter the knockouts with a psychological edge over South Africa. It will be surprising to see if Glenn Maxwell - who overcame severe cramps in a Herculean unbeaten double hundred against Afghanistan midweek in Mumbai - features in the game.
It will also be interesting to see if Steve Smith returns to the XI
after missing the Afghanistan game due to a vertigo issue. Smith had a real long hit in the nets on Friday afternoon and hardly appeared in discomfort.
For Bangladesh, Mahedi Hasan is likely to be preferred over Enamul Haque in place of Shakib.
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