Pakistan v Bangladesh 1st T20I Preview: Much improved Tigers no pushovers for Babar & Co
The ODI leg against Sri Lanka marked the proper return of international cricket to Pakistan. However, a clean sweep in the T20I series dampened that sentiment. Pakistan will expect to celebrate this home series with a resounding victory.
Venue - Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Start time - 09:00 AM GMT | 02:00 PM LOCAL | 2:30 PM PKT
Head to Head record in T20Is - Pakistan: 8 Bangladesh: 2 Tied: 0 No Result: 0
Weather - Sunny, 18°C, Precipitation: 0%, Humidity: 52%, Wind: 11 km/h
Their first objective would be to arrest the downslide that has stuck Pakistan cricket. Still placed on the top in the ICC T20I rankings, the team has lost eight of their last nine T20Is and the hosts will desperately like to break that streak. In a bid for the same, following an embarrassing tour of Australia, the Misbah-ul-Haq led selection committee has dropped seven players from the squad and brought in fresh talent.
Gaddafi Stadium offers some help for the spinners
The match will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The last T20I played at this venue saw Sri Lanka beat Pakistan by 13 runs. There is something in it for the bowlers for sure.
Mohammad Amir, who has been dropped from the squad, was the most successful bowler for Pakistan in the last game that was played at this venue. Wanindu Hasaranga spun a web around the Pakistan middle order.
With the surface conducive for spinners, both teams are likely to go in with two spin options. Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan would be the leading spinners for Pakistan while Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik can also chip in with a couple of overs. Aminul Islam will provide Bangladesh with the wrist spin option along with the off breaks of Afif Hossain.
Pakistan to test new weaponry
Pakistan are almost obliged to play both all-rounders cum batsmen Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, otherwise there is no point in picking them. So, those are two spots in the middle order taken.
Babar Azam and Ahsan Ali are expected to open the batting. Leggie Shadab Khan will obviously play ahead of Usman Qadir. The three pace bowlers that are expected to take the field for Pakistan are Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Hasnain.
Amad Butt presents a strong case for inclusion but with Imad Wasim already in the side, it is difficult for him to play either ahead of him or with him. Khushdil Shah and Musa Khan will also be on the bench.
Bangladesh beginning to zero down on first XI
With Tamim Iqbal back, he will slot back to open the batting with either of Mohammad Naim or Liton Das partnering him. The other will come at one drop. Three out of Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Hasan Mahmud and Shafiul Islam will play.
Mustafizur Rahman, on the back of his performances in the Bangladesh Premier League, might have reclaimed his spot as the leader of the pack. Rubel Hossain and Hasan Mahmud, both of whom have been recently called up, are likely to compete for one spot.
An eye on the T20 World Cup
While the bilateral series is important, both teams will also like to test their strength with an eye on the upcoming T20 World Cup. Pakistan head coach Misbah-ul-Haq expressed this sentiment while announcing the squad: "The matches against Bangladesh are part of our preparation, finding the right combination and building for the two major tournaments. The return of Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Shaheen Afridi gives us the experience and depth, while the exuberance of Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt and Haris Rauf gives the team more firepower, energy and all-round skill."
A similar objective is also on Bangladesh's plate, as mentioned by Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo: ''It is a young group of players. Hopefully some of these players can make it big and get into the World Cup squad, which is not finalized yet. After this series, we have to keep our squad as small as possible. I think we can play with a maximum of 16 or 17 players in the next couple of series."
Here's a look at the predicted playing XI of both teams:
Pakistan - Babar Azam (c), Ahsan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Hasnain
Bangladesh - Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Naim, Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah (c), Afif Hossain, Aminul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain, Rubel Hossain/Hasan Mahmud
This is where you can catch all the live action across the globe:
Pakistan: PTV sports
Bangladesh: Gazi TV (GTV)
Australia: Fox Sports
South Africa: SuperSport
Canada: ATN Cricket Plus (Asian Television Network), CBN
USA: Willow TV
Malaysia: Astro Cricket HD
Middle East and North Africa (MENA): OSN Sports Cricket HD
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