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Pakistan v Bangladesh World T20 preview - Match 14

Mashrafe Mortaza’s men want to build on their recent gains against a team that has traditionally dominated them

15 March 2016 20:07 By Manoj Narayan, Kolkata

Pakistan has had to deal with uncertainties throughout the build up to the ICC World Twenty20 2016, and its tournament opener, against Bangladesh, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday (March 16), should provide some relief. If the players can channel their energies and put in a comprehensive display, their campaign would have a glorious start.

That is the ideal scenario. Things could easily go the other way against a young, energetic Bangladesh side on the rise as well.

Pakistan’s batting has often been up and down, and its troubles were laid threadbare during the Asia Cup. It was bowled out for 83 against India, and suffered another top-order collapse against Bangladesh before Sarfraz Ahmed’s half-century helped it set 130 – a target Bangladesh completed with a bit to spare.

The selectors opted to keep faith with their line-up, though, only replacing Khurram Manzoor with Ahmed Shehzad.

Perhaps the faith was well placed. In its solitary warm-up match before the tournament, against Sri Lanka in Kolkata on Monday, the batsmen finally found some form. Mohammad Hafeez scored an unbeaten 49-ball 70 as Pakistan posted 157 for 5 in a 15-run victory.

The pace attack is already one of the most feared in the tournament, with Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Sami and Wahab Riaz covering between them almost every aspect of pace bowling, and if the batsmen raise their game, it could get interesting.

“When the pace bowlers are in form, it doesn’t matter what sort of surface it is. You’re always in the good,” said Waqar Younis, the Pakistan coach. Furthermore, in Imad Wasim, who returned 4 for 25 in the warm-up game, and Shahid Afridi, the spin department is well covered. Afridi did sit out of practice on Tuesday due to a fever, but Waqar remained hopeful his captain would recover in time for the match.

Bangladesh, meanwhile, is in unfamiliar territory. So impressive has its rise been over the last year and a half that it appears the more fancied side, however marginally, in this clash. It was dominant in the qualifiers, sealing its spot in the Super10s with a 54-run (D/L method) win over Oman. And before that, it had a fine run in the Asia Cup, falling only behind India. It was a mark of how much the side has improved in recent times.

Having already played three proper matches in India, Bangladesh has a measure of the conditions, and will know what to expect. It will also have settled on the combination. Tamim Iqbal’s form at the top has been striking – against Oman, he became the first Bangladeshi to score a Twenty20 International century. Sabbir Rahman has also shown good touch, while Shakib Al Hasan has been amongst the wickets.

Whether Mustafizur Rahman, the left-arm pacer, is fit to return to the side remains to be seen – Mashrafe Mortaza, the captain, said a call would be taken on the day of the match – but he was seen having an extensive session in the nets, and if he does return, the side will be further fortified.

Mashrafe said the team was confident. “Obviously, there is some confidence,” he said. “In the last one-and-a-half years, we played good cricket in ODIs, but T20Is were always difficult for us. But last three-four weeks we’ve been playing good cricket in T20Is. Confidence is there, and we want to make it count.

“They (Pakistan) have more experience than us. In the last two months in this format, we’ve been having good practice back home; we had a good Asia Cup. We’ve planned better and have some exciting players in our side. But if you go over the history, Pakistan is much better.”

Mashrafe was insistent on making it count. And Pakistan will know that as things stand, Bangladesh is well placed to do so.

Teams (from)
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Irfan, Sharjeel Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Sami, Khalid Latif, Mohammad Amir, Umar Akmal, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Imad Wasim, Anwar Ali, Ahmed Shahzad.
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Arafat Sunny, Mahmudullah, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Sabbir Rehman, Abu Hider, Nurul Hasan, Al-Amin Hossain, Nasir Hossain, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed, Mohammed Mithun, Mustafizur Rahman.