World Twenty20 2014: Breaking Down Keys to Thursday's Matches

Jason Pettigrove@@jaypetti1971Contributor IMarch 19, 2014

Hong Kong face a monumental battle to beat Group A front runners Bangladesh
Hong Kong face a monumental battle to beat Group A front runners BangladeshBikas Das/Associated Press

Thursday sees the penultimate first-round matches in the World Twenty20.

Top plays bottom in Group A as Bangladesh take on a very disappointing Hong Kong side, while Afghanistan and Nepal face a battle royale to see if either can topple Bangladesh from their perch and reach the Super10 stage.

It will take a collapse of epic proportions by the group favourites to see them miss out, but how many times before have we seen sports teams fall on their own sword after failing to pay their opposition appropriate respect?

It promises to be a thrilling day's play, so let's take a look at where the games will be won and lost.

World T20 Group A Games - Thursday March 20
Afghanistan vs. Nepal9.30 a.m. GMT/5.30 a.m. ET
Bangladesh vs. Hong Kong1.30 p.m. GMT/9.30 a.m. ET

Afghanistan vs. Nepal

Nepal are only in with a shout of defeating Afghanistan if they can combat the fearsome bowling attack..
Nepal are only in with a shout of defeating Afghanistan if they can combat the fearsome bowling attack..Bikas Das/Associated Press

After defeating Hong Kong by 80 runs in their first game, Nepal became the first-ever Associate nation to record a win at World T20.

With no prize money on offer unless they qualify for the Super10 stage, talented Nepali Sharad Vesawkar, identified what playing in the tournament means for him.

Per ESPNCricInfo, he said:

We're all born and brought up in Nepal and know each other very well, having played together from age-group cricket. That ensures that we have very good team spirit. ... We're Nepali and proud to play for Nepal. We're amateur cricketers with limited facilities, so to be able to come here and give our best is something to be proud of.

Pride may be all the Nepalese end up playing for as they face an Afghan attack full of pace, on a lively Chittagong surface.

Towering left-hander Shapoor Zadran is likely to open the bowling, and could quite easily reach the 142.4 kph he was sending down at the Pakistan openers in last month's Asia Cup.

Zadran cuts a monstrous figure as he bears down on the crease and his delivery is often as fearsome.

Alongside namesake Dawlat Zadran, even quicker at 145.3 kph, it's seems a fairly obvious tactic for the Afghans to employ and restrict their opponents to an achievable total.

Vesawkar and fellow middle order Nepali, Paras Khadka, remain their country's best hope of winning the game. 

Both had solid knocks in the ultimately unsuccessful outing against group favourites Bangladesh, but if the two are allowed to settle and find rhythm, Afghanistan could be in for the long haul.

Bangladesh vs. Hong Kong

If Bangladesh's openers get settled, expect the big scores.
If Bangladesh's openers get settled, expect the big scores.Bikas Das/Associated Press

This is the David and Goliath of the group stage games.

Hong Kong will barely be given a hope in this one, but batsman Jamie Atkinson is preparing to spring a surprise per Mohammad Isam of ESPNCricInfo:

It is the opportunity for Hong Kong to try and take their biggest scalp. It would be the biggest win in Hong Kong's history, probably one of the biggest shocks in World Cups. That's what will be driving the team forward in the hope that we can make history and potentially beat Bangladesh.

Atkinson's bravado is to be commended, but the Bangladesh side, who have already won their two matches comfortably, will have far too much in their locker to be troubled by the group's also-rans.

Indeed, there has been a swagger about the Bangladeshi openers, and in the last game against Nepal, Anamul Haque announced his presence by smashing two of the first three balls of the innings for 10 runs.

Haque is an aggressive batsman who enjoys playing off of the front foot and going toe-to-toe in the heat of battle. Alongside the equally dominant Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh raced to 63 in under seven overs, their highest stand in T20.

If Haque and Iqbal get a foothold into the game, we can expect to see some big numbers, and for all Hong Kong's competitive spirit, they just do not have the players to hit the big runs to turn this game around.