The gulf is wide between Pakistan and Bangladesh with regards to their ranking in T20 internationals; however, not so much when it comes to their recent struggles in the format. Not only in terms of on-field performances, but these two sides have also undergone a change of guard in their coaching personnel. Contrary to the previous time these two sub-continent rivals locked horns in Pakistan; one can expect a close contest this time around.
Misbah Ul Haq’s tenure so far for Pakistan has plunged an otherwise settled T20 outfit in confusion. The coach cum selector’s continuous revamping of the squad has failed the players to let them settle in the national team. He started with recalling Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad against Sri Lanka, both of who failed gloriously on return from their lengthy hiatus in T20 internationals. The humiliation at the hands of Sri Lanka made Misbah blood several new faces like Mohammad Musa, Kashif Bhatti, Khushdil Shah, and Usman Qadir against Australia. It also underlined handing the reigns from Sarfaraz Ahmed to Babar Azam.
It ended up backfiring again as they tasted another series defeat. The third edition of their squad involved summoning back the 37-year old Shoaib Malik and 39-year old Mohammad Hafeez while also axing Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Irfan. Behind the continuous overhauling, the former Pakistan captain stated the reason that would keep experimenting till they find their best combination.
The lack of confidence in their players has prevented the number one team in the format from failing to win even one match as against winning 30 out of 37 before Misbah came in. The hosts may have jumped over a massive hurdle of frequently hosting international teams; however, the fans also deserve seeing their team produce consistently favourable results.
If the home side consists of two senior players returning to the fold, Bangladesh has Mushfiqur Rahim and a few of their vital coaching staff refusing to step foot in Pakistan due to security concerns. In the absence of Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, and Mashrafe Mortaza, the visitors have to bank on the experience of Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah with the likes of Liton Das, Afif Hossain, and Soumya Sarkar supporting them.
Skipper Mahmudullah is also set to rely on the likes of Al-Amin Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain, and Mustafizur Rahman, who took 20 wickets in the Bangladesh Premier League. One of the surprises packages in the series could be Hasan Mahmud, who received a call-up based on his sheer pace as Bangladesh look to accumulate a pool of skilled fast bowlers to challenge their opponents in Australia.
Shaheen Afridi is likely to lead the Pakistan pace attack along with Haris Rauf, who may make his debut after his impressive show in the Big Bash League in Australia. Shoiab Malik is likely to bat at number four to play the anchor role with Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, and Shadab Khan playing as finishers.
Ahsan Ali is expected to open the batting along with Babar Azam while Mohammad Hafeez is likely to bat at number three. With dew unlikely to play a part, the home side would go with two frontline spinners in Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan.
Predicted XI: Babar Azam (C), Ahsan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Hasnain, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf.
Bench – Muhammad Musa, Usman Qadir, Amad Butt, Khushdil Shah.
Due to the return of Tamim Iqbal, he will open the batting along with Mohammad Naim and Liton Das is likely to come at number three. Afif Hossain and Mahmudullah would play the role of finishers while leg-spinner Aminul Islam may get the nod after impressing in India.
Predicted XI: Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Naim Sheikh, Liton Das (wk), Soumya Sarkar, Mahmudullah (C), Afif Hossain, Mahedi Hasan, Aminul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain, Rubel Hossain.
Bench – Najmul Hossain, Mohammad Mithun, Hasan Mahmud, Shafiul Islam.
Focus will be on
Haris Rauf (Pakistan)
Haris Rauf has enjoyed a meteoric rise to Pakistan’s ranks following a sensational run of form in the Big Bash League for Melbourne Stars. The 26-year old is capable of consistently bowling over 140 kph that enabled him to take 16 wickets in only seven games, including a hat-trick and a five-wicket haul. A remarkable start to the international career could punch his ticket for the World T20 down under later this year.
Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)
Tamim Iqbal last played a T20 international in December 2018. The nation’s leading run-getter in Test and ODI cricket also had a mediocre 2019 World Cup and a horrid series in Sri Lanka after that. The 30-year old needs to put an imposing display against Pakistan and bat responsibly as the senior player in a depleted line-up.
Head to Head
Played – 10
Won by Pakistan – 8
Won by Bangladesh – 2
The last time played Bangladesh played a T20 in Pakistan was back in 2008. From the current squad, only Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah were part of the playing eleven of that match.
12 – Tamim Iqbal needs 12 runs to go past Shakib Al Hasan’s tally of 1567 T20I runs. Should he do it, he will become Bangladesh’s leading run-getter in all three formats.
Mahumudullah has played 83 T20I matches and Mushfiqur Rahim has played 84 games in the shortest format. With Rahim not part of the series, the skipper stands a chance to become the most capped player for the country in T20s.
67 – Babar Azam needs 67 runs to go past Ahmed Shehzad’s tally of 1471 T20I runs. The skipper has presently 1405 runs in only 36 fixtures and is tied with Shahid Afridi.
1 – Pakistan’s only win in T20 last year came against South Africa in Centurion. Out of 10 matches, they lost eight, winning one, and one ending as a no-result.
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Live streaming – Hotstar
Match timings – 2:30 pm (IST)
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