Bangladesh vs Pakistan, 1st T20I Preview: Hurting Pakistan face tricky batting conditions against inexperienced Tigers
The best way forward after a heart-breaking loss is to get back on the field as early as possible.
Pakistan look to build on WC form
This is exactly what Pakistan will do when they take on Bangladesh in a three-match T20I series in Dhaka. It was only on November 11 that Pakistan, one of the favorites for winning the T20 World Cup, crashed out after a 5-wicket defeat against underdogs Australia at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
The team had been unbeaten in the Super 12 stage and had batted first in most crucial games. However, when it mattered the most, they lost an all-important toss and were put into bat.
Their opening combination of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan which suits them so well while chasing let them down in some ways as the team could not bat Australia out of the match despite a heroic display from Fakhar Zaman towards the end.
It proved to be a horrible outing for Hasan Ali who had a forgettable tournament in all but an even more forgettable semi-final. Shaheen Shah Afridi who had been the trump card for Pakistan leading up to the semi-final also lost his way when push came to shove.
Pakistan name full-strength side
Generally, on such tours, the tendency is to rest the top players particularly after a showpiece event. But this time, with the quality of both sides right up there, it is tipped to be an interesting series.
It is a good thing that the Pakistan Cricket Board has not made a lot of changes to their T20 World Cup squad. The only forced change is the absence of Mohammad Hafeez who has expressed his unavailability.
Iftikhar Ahmed replaces him in the playing XI. However, he is unlikely to make the side with Haider Ali already waiting in the wings.
Babar, Rizwan and Shadab in great form
Pakistan finished atop the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 Group 2 points table with wins from all their 5 matches of the Super 12 stage. They had one slip-up and lost by 5 wickets against Australia in the semis to bow out.
Babar Azam was the top run-scorer for Pakistan with 303 runs at a strike rate of 126. He struck 28 fours and 5 sixes. Mohammad Rizwan also made 281 runs at a strike rate of 127.
Shadab Khan was the best bowler for South Africa and has picked up 9 wickets while bowling at an average of 15 and an economy rate of 6.00.
What's in the pitch!
Bangladesh have been unstoppable of late registering comprehensive series victories against Australia and New Zealand. However, the extremely tough batting conditions have been front and centre in those victories.
It was for everyone to see how their batters struggled to get going on good batting surfaces. It will be interesting to see whether or not Bangladesh decide to prepare sporting wickets at home as well - something they will have to do in order to improve the quality of their cricket.
Bangladesh ended up at the 6th spot in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 Group 1 points table with losses from all their 5 matches of the Super 12 stage.
Naim and Mahmudullah expected to be among the runs
Mohammad Naim was the top run-scorer for Bangladesh with 174 runs at a strike rate of 110. He has struck 15 fours and 4 sixes. Mahmudullah also made 169 runs at a strike rate of 120.
In the absence of Shakib Al Hasan who is out injured, Mahedi Hasan was the best bowler for Bangladesh and picked up 8 wickets while bowling at an average of 18 and an economy rate of 6.12.
Having dropped Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar and Rubel Hossain, BCB have brought in batsman Najmul Hossain Shanto and legspinner Aminul Islam Biplob alongside young batters Saif Hassan, Yasir Ali Chowdhury, pacer Shohidul Islam and wicketkeeper Akbar Ali.
With as many as six changes to their squad, not least the absence of Shakib Al Hasan Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal, it will be worth watching how the new crop of Bangladesh cricketers turn up.
Predicted Playing XIs
Pakistan - Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi
Bangladesh - Mohammad Naim, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Saif Hassan/Yasir Ali Chowdhury, Akbar Ali (wk), Mahmudullah (c), Afif Hossain, Shamim Hossain, Mahedi Hasan, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Mustafizur Rahman
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