Pakistan, Bangladesh look to outclass each other

With wins in their previous games both
Bangladesh and Pakistan must be fairly
confident going into the 8th Match of the Asia
Cup 2016, on Wednesday (March 2).
Bangladesh though will miss the services of
the in-form Mustafizur Rahman in the crucial
tie. The left-arm seamer sustained a side
strain and Tamim Iqbal has been named as
the replacement. While that will bolster their
batting-unit, Mustafizur was one of the
leading bowlers in the tournament. His
absence will severely dent the hosts,
particularly on pitches such as the ones found
in Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in
Mirpur for this tournament.
Pakistan, after a lacklustre show against
India, bounced back against UAE. Although
there were some concerns still regarding their
top-order. Waqar Younis, Pakistan head
coach, had conceded that it was a spot of
bother. But the good form of Mohammad Amir
has meant that the bowling unit looks far
more potent. The pace-group consisting of
Amir, Mohammad Irfan and Mohammad Sami
are likely to feature once again against
Bangladesh.
However, Pakistan's spin attack doesn't quite
possess the same teeth. Shahid Afridi looked
far from threatening in the two games, and it
is his form that will concern Pakistan a bit.
Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz failed to
make an impact on debut and could well be
replaced by Imad Wasim. If Afridi finds his
mojo again, it gives a well-rounded look to
the attack and his form will be crucial for
Pakistan, not only in this game but even in
the T20 WC that follows.
Bangladesh will welcome the return of Tamim
Iqbal who is coming back from a paternity
leave. It will lease their batting issues a touch.
They too, like Pakistan, have faced problems
with lack of runs from their top order. Sabbir
Rahman played a gem against Sri Lanka while
Shakib Al Hasan also got to spend some time
in the middle. The latter in particular will have
to fire soon if Bangladesh are to make an
impact in T20Is.
The win against Sri Lanka puts them in good
stead to up the ante against Pakistan. That
win, notwithstanding, Bangladesh have done
well against Pakistan in recent times. So much
so that they might even claim to have a
psychological edge over them. Only last year,
they managed a clean-sweep against Pakistan
in the limited over-series, winning all three
One-Day Internationals, and the lone T20I.
Those losses will be fresh in the minds of
Pakistan, as much as it will be for the hosts.
For Afridi's men, the maturity shown by
Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal against UAE
was a definite improvement from their
spectacular collapse against India. If the top
order starts firing as well, they will be a hard
team to beat in any condition, given their
bowling attack.
The man in focus will once again be Amir.
After a three-wicket burst in the first game
against India, he turned out a miserly spell
against UAE, conceding only six runs in his
four overs. He's quickly transforming into the
lead strike-bowler of this Pakistan team. The
ball has tended to do a bit at the start of the
innings and Bangladesh will be wary of him, in
particular. If they can play him out with little
damage, then there is a chance to exploit
Pakistan's spin-attack.
After the first few games, the tracks in Mirpur
have started to lose their shades of green.
There has even been enough assistance for the
spinners in the last couple of games. This will
also mean that both teams will be looking at
spin as a strike-force once again. Bangladesh
might pip for a spinner to replace Mustafizur
instead of a four-pronged pace attack.
It will be a crucial tie for both teams as the
race to the final heats up. Both teams have a
win and a loss each. As the tournament
progresses, there could be a scenario where
more than one team ends up with the same
number of points, in which case the net run-
rate will decide the team that progresses.
While it is still a little too early for teams to
be thinking about that scenario, if the
opportunity does arise they will be looking to
win and win big.
Teams:
Pakistan (From): Anwar Ali, Khurram Manzoor,
Wahab Riaz, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Irfan,
Mohammad Amir, Imad Wasim, Shahid Afridi
(C), Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Nawaz,
Sarfraz Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Mohammad
Sami, Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Iftikhar
Ahmed
Bangladesh (From): Imrul Kayes, Tamim Iqbal,
Mashrafe Mortaza (C), Abu Hider, Arafat
Sunny, Mohammad Mithun, Nurul Hasan,
Soumya Sarkar, Taskin Ahmed, Sabbir
Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim,
Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Al-Amin
Hossain
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