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The Bangladesh Premier League 2019 group stages are over and we have our four teams that have qualified. The top-2 spots have gone to the Rangpur Riders and the Comilla Victorians who will get a chance to qualify directly for the BPL final. This match, the Qualifier 1, provides the two competing teams everything to play for and nothing really to lose.
The losing team will have another chance to qualify for the BPL Final by playing the winner of the Eliminator in the Qualifier 2.
Interestingly, the Rangpur Riders and the Comilla Victorians played against each other as their last group match in a contest that was dominated by the Rangpur Riders. That was the third consecutive match that the Rangpur Riders have won against the Comilla Victorians. Taking their strong batting lineup into consideration, the Rangpur Riders have to favorites for sure.
The Rangpur Riders started the Bangladesh Premier League slowly and then really took off when AB de Villiers joined the side. They have won their last six matches coming into this match and have dominated everyone that has come against them.
The Rangpur Riders decided to rest Alex Hales and give Ravi Bopara a run as their fourth overseas player. We think they are going to go back to loading their batting with superstars. Chris Gayle, Alex Hales, AB de Villiers, and Rilee Rossow are the most formidable batting lineup in the Bangladesh Premier League.
All four of the players are capable of scoring centuries in T20 cricket with plenty of overs to spare. Three out of these four have scored centuries in this edition of the BPL and seem to be well adjusted to the conditions.
The only risk for the Rangpur Riders is going to be a batting collapse. If they put all their eggs in the batting basket and the batsmen are unable to take advantage then the bowlers will be under tremendous pressure.
If you think that a collapse is not likely to happen with so many good batsmen then that would be a mistake. The conditions at the Shere Bangla are challenging and foreign to the entire Rangpur Riders top order. A good spinner could easily run through the opposition and the Comilla Victorians certainly have some good ones in their side.
With all the attention on the batting, it would be unwise to ignore the bowlers. Mashrafe Mortaza and Farhad Reza have been the best bowlers for the side and will be expected to lead the attack. Mortaza is one of the few captains going around that is also a bowler and we think he is able to avoid falling the trap of bringing himself on in all conditions.
The Rangpur Riders are in excellent form and playing fearless cricket. It appears that only an implosion can stop them from moving ahead to the BPL finals at this stage.
Mashrafe Mortaza, Mohammad Mithun, Nahidul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Farhad Reza, Mehedi Maruf, S Gazi, Chris Gayle, RS Bopara, Rilee Rossouw, Benny Howell.
The Comilla Victorians would want to put the memories of their last match behind them and start afresh. They were very poor in the previous match against the Rangpur Riders and were bowled out for just 72.
What would be a little troubling for the Comilla Victorians would be the fact that their last few matches have been marred by poor batting performances. They managed to just get over the line by one run against the Dhaka Dynamites and lost by 9 wickets against the Rangpur Riders.
The main strength of the Comilla Victorians is their all-rounders. Thisara Perera and Shahid Afridi in the middle are two dangerous hitters that are very good with the ball as well. The Victorians also have the option of playing Liam Dawson as an additional spinner in place of someone like Wahab Riaz.
Evin Lewis and Tamim Iqbal are going to the most dangerous batsmen in the Comilla Victorians side. They are in good form and in the best position to take advantage of the powerplay overs. If Evin Lewis and Tamim Iqbal can get going then they can provide their bowlers with enough scoreboard pressure to go after the Rangpur Riders batting.
On a head to head basis, the Comilla Victorians may not have the powerful overseas batsmen that the Rangpur Riders have but they have a better crop of Bangladeshi batsmen. Imrul Kayes, Anamul Haque, and Shamsur Rahman are three of the best Bangladeshi batsmen at the domestic level and this is an opportunity for them to show what they can do.
One great individual performance is unlikely to win the match for the Comilla Victorians, especially while batting, and so a concerted effort from all the individuals will be needed to get them over the line.
Shahid Afridi is the bowler that we think that is going to have the most impact in this match. He has a wealth of international experience, has played in pressure matches multiple times, and will not be overawed bowling to the big names in the Rangpur Riders.
He has also been in spectacular form with the ball picking wickets and making it very difficult for the batsmen to score off him. He will want to ball when the big wickets are on offer and may well end up giving his side what they need.
Imrul Kayes, Anamul Haque, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Saifuddin, Sanjit Saha, Shamsur Rahman, Mahedi Hasan, Wahab Riaz, Evin Lewis, SMSK Afridi, Thisara Perera.
The team winning the toss is going to want to field first
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The Bangladesh Premier League 2019 Qualifier 1 is going to be played at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka. The weather is expected to dry and sunny for the match and so there should be no interruptions likely.
The batting conditions are difficult in Dhaka and only becoming slower as the matches keep coming. A score of around 130-140 is par but when two strong batting sides are playing, the teams will tend to go hard none the less.
Winning the toss is going to be a huge advantage.
We think this is a closely contested match where some of the batting advantages of the Rangpur Riders will be nullified because of the pitch. The Comilla Victorians have struggled against the Rangpur Riders in the past but they should be able to get past them in this match.
Back the Comilla Victorians to win.
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