Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - In-form Pakistan face new challenge against revamped Bangladesh. Babar Azam inspects the pitch ahead of the first T20I
Babar Azam inspects the pitch ahead of the first T20I
Only a week ago Pakistan were served a cruel reminder of just how a single poor over can seal the game in the quickest format. Or, a World Cup campaign in their case. Now, they have to bounce back just as quickly from the heartbreak to recalibrate their focus on the next, in Australia next year. Their (probable) redemption arc begins in Dhaka, with a three-match series against Bangladesh between Friday and Monday.
Bangladesh's most recent home record is quite impressive, with historic bilateral series wins against eventual World Cup finalists Australia and New Zealand. That, however, in no way is a true indicator of their current form or confidence. Their World Cup campaign was a complete dud, with five defeats in as many Super 12s fixtures. That has subsequently led to a host of changes, and confusion over the fate of those who've been sidelined. Mushfiqur Rahim wants to know if he's indeed been dropped and not ‘rested' as advertised, while skipper Mahmadullah has no answers.
The boardroom issues aside, the selected 16-man squad is very much a team in transition with a short turnaround before the next World Cup comes knocking. Domestic T20 performers have been rewarded, meaning in the absence of experienced campaigners like Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das, skipper Mahmadullah is looking at a changed middle-role of more an anchor than a finisher. Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan though may have the perform-or-perish sword hanging over their heads, with the selectors packing in reinforcements in those roles. Their bowling though has looked in shape, with Taskin leading the charge in UAE ahead of pace spearhead Mustafizur Rahman. On the tricky, turning tracks of Mirpur though, Bangladesh's best bet would be on the spin pair of Mahedi Hasan and Nasum Ahmed, who will lead the department in the injury-forced absence of Shakib al Hasan.
That said, Pakistan's red-hot batting line-up is unlikely to be caught off guard in the same manner as Australia's and New Zealand's did in typically subcontinental conditions. Moreover, it is Pakistan's consistently dominant batting shows that has earned them so much success across conditions of late. Skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan have formed a formidable opening partnership, with significant contributions coming from the middle and lower order.
That coupled with a very versatile bowling attack, could see Bangladesh find the going tough despite the home advantage. Barring that decisive over in the semifinal against Australia, Shaheen Afridi hardly put a foot wrong in the World Cup, and he'd be itching to right a few wrongs. Simultaneously though a lot would be riding on the performance of the slower bowlers in these conditions, legspin allrounder Shadab Khan in particular who finished as the team's leading wicket-taker at the World Cup with nine scalps at an impressive economy of six.
When: 1st T20I , Friday, November 19 at 8am GMT | 1:30pm local
Where: Shere Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka
What to expect: Bangladesh's historic home series victories against Australia and New Zealand in the lead up to the World Cup were in part due to the favourable strips they got at this very venue that just weren't conducive to free-flowing batting. More low-scoring games could be on the cards in this series as well.
BangladeshWith several big names rested/dropped, the home team is looking to make a fresh start under their experienced captain Mahmadullah, who will be expected to hold the batting together in a new middle-order role. A top-order rejig could see debuts being handed to Saif Hassan and Yasir Ali at some point in the series, if not Friday.
Probable XI: Saif Hassan, Mohammad Naim, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mahmudullah (C), Afif Hossain, Nurul Hasan (wk), Shamim Hossain, Mahedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Shahidul Islam/Shoriful Islam
PakistanPakistan's frontline batters and bowlers spick themselves, and it's in the middle order that they've rested the likes of Imad Wasim and Asif Ali. Consequently, Khushdil Shah, Haider Ali and Mohammad Nawaz could get a look in the three games.
Probable XI: Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Shoaib Malik, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi
What they said
There will be challenges with a young team, especially against Pakistan. But I believe that T20 is the type of format where you can expect something good from your best line-up on a good wicket. I know that we couldn't fulfill our expectations in the World Cup. For us, starting well here is very important – Mahmudullah, Bangladesh captain
‘We want to continue the World Cup momentum. We are trying to play a different combination so that we can try out our bench strength. We have West Indies tour next and probably there are six matches so we want to try out different players – Babar Azam, Pakistan captain