Australia are steadily building some momentum in the Cricket World Cup but Richard Mann thinks they are worth taking on against Bangladesh on Thursday.
Australia v Bangladesh
Reigning World Cup champions Australia have recovered well from their bruising defeat at the hands of India earlier in the tournament, beating Pakistan and Sri Lanka subsequently, but there are still plenty of chinks in their armour and Bangladesh must be backed at 9/2 to maintain their own impressive start to the competition.
Barring a heavy defeat against England, Bangladesh have played some fantastic cricket in England so far, going down narrowly against New Zealand in-between crushing wins over South Africa and the West Indies.
Bangladesh talisman Shakib Al Hasan is enjoying a stellar World Cup, the veteran all-rounder already amassing 384 runs at an average of 128.00 as well as picking up five wickets with his left-arm spin, and he was the star of the show in Monday's seven-wicket drubbing of the West Indies.
Shakib's magnificent unbeaten 124 underpinned Bangladesh's monster chase of 322 and with Lilton Das contributing a stylish 69-ball 94*, the Tigers always looked like coming out on top. They can still harbour realistic hopes of reaching the knockout stages with New Zealand and Thursday's opponents, Australia, both having some tough fixtures to come.
Shakib, fellow spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Mustafizur Rahman have all shown themselves to be reliable performers with the ball and though Bangladesh can look a little stretched when any of those three aren't operating, they clearly house enough firepower to trouble an Australian batting line-up that remains unbalanced and is still struggling to accommodate too many top-order players.
Though Aaron Finch is currently in the form of his career and Steve Smith's seamless return to the side has provided a huge boost, David Warner still appears a little way from his best, despite his hundred against Pakistan, while neither Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja look comfortable in the middle order.
Glenn Maxwell and Alex Carey add impressive firepower lower down the order but for all Australia's improvements against spin in the last 18 months, Bangladesh's host of wily operators are sure to make life tough on a Trent Bridge surface that continues to prove very flat and demands the skills of a good spin bowler.
That creates a huge problem for Australia, who have left leg-spinner Adam Zampa out of their starting XI for their last two matches, instead preferring to use Maxwell's part-time off-spin. The latter won't cause too many sleepless nights for a Bangladesh batting order that plays spin so well.
The prospect of Zampa returning to the side is strong but he lacked penetration earlier in the tournament while Nathan Lyon has been carrying drinks for the past few weeks and would need to hit the ground running were he to get the nod.
That isn't to say Australia's bowling isn't strong. In Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, Finch has a wonderful new- and old-ball pairing at his disposal who have claimed 11 and 13 wickets respectively so far.
However, Kane Richardson is next best with five scalps and that, in a nutshell, is Australia's problem with their wicket-taking threat severely diminished once the opposition has been able to ride the early storm.
With Bangladesh's opening pair of Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar providing solid starts throughout the last few weeks, expect another safe and steady approach in the early throes of their batting innings before the exciting middle order look to dominate Australia's second-string bowlers.
It is a strategy that has served Bangladesh well so far and they might find that an Australian attack lacking depth might play into their hands again.
Whether Australia opt to select a spinner or not, their lack of a world-class white-ball slow bowler could hurt them badly in this match and beyond and Bangladesh are fancied to strike the first blow into a wound that could continue to bleed over the next few weeks.
With their own house in pretty decent order and confidence sure to be sky high having claimed a couple of notable scalps already, Bangladesh look far too big at 9/2 and must be backed accordingly.
Posted at 1730 BST on 18/06/19.