Pakistan v Bangladesh, Super Four, Asia Cup, Karachi July 3, 2008

Ousted hosts look to salvage pride

Match facts

Friday, July 4, 2008
Start time 16.00 (local), 10.00 (GMT)

Pakistan are out of the Asia Cup but need to close the tournament with a win over Bangladesh to keep the critics at bay © AFP

Big Picture

The final league clash in the Asia Cup has, much to the disappointment of the home side, been reduced to a dead rubber with India's six-wicket win sealing their spot in the final and shutting Pakistan out the tournament.

Two days back, Pakistan were unsure of where they stood in this tournament. A scintillating batting performance against India put them one step closer to joining Sri Lanka in the final but now they must play to keep the critics at bay. There have been reports that the team's results at the Kitply Cup and Asia Cup could decide the futures of coach Geoff Lawson and Shoaib Malik. The pressure would have eased after the Kitply Cup win but a loss to Bangladesh at home could bring it right back on.

Bangladesh only once looked like scaring the other teams in the Super Four when they posted 283 against India, before their bowling let them down. There won't be any respite as they take on a powerful middle order. Form and momentum point to Pakistan in this final league clash - and they're up against the weakest team in the Super Four.

Form guide

(Last five completed ODIs; most recent first)
Pakistan WLLWW
Bangladesh LLLWL

Watch out for ...

Younis Khan, who's back at his best after a very efficient century against the Indians on Wednesday that kept Pakistan's hopes alive in the tournament. Pakistan cannot afford a defeat against Bangladesh, so Younis' experience in the middle order should be invaluable.

Saeed Ajmal's variations with his offbreaks. On his debut, he kept varying his pace, firing in the quicker ones and the odd delivery that straightened. Bangladesh struggled against the Sri Lankan spinners, conceding seven wickets to them, so they will approach Ajmal with some caution.

Team news

The only question mark for Pakistan is the fitness of their regular captain Shoaib Malik, who collapsed shortly before the India game during a fitness test. Malik had been battling dehydration and cramps. If he returns, Nasir Jamshed could miss out despite impressing with an attacking half-century in his first outing.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Salman Butt, 2 Shoaib Malik (capt), 3 Younis Khan, 4 Mohammad Yousuf, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Sohail Tanvir, 8 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 9 Abdur Rauf, 10 Iftikhar Anjum, 11 Saeed Ajmal.

Bangladesh have the opportunity to test their bench strength. Mosharraf Hossain, the left-arm spinner, Mehrab Hossain Jnr, the middle-order batsman and Shahriar Nafees, the opening batsman, haven't played a game yet and Bangladesh have nothing to lose by fielding all three.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Nazimuddin/Shahriar Nafees, 3 Mohammad Ashraful (capt), 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Alok Kapali, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Farhad Reza/Mehrab Hossain Jnr, 9 Shahadat Hossain, 10 Abdur Razzak/Mosharraf Hossain, 11 Mashrafe Mortaza.

Stats and trivia

  • In 14 games since January, Younis Khan averages 51.84. His lowest score in his last five matches is 47.

  • Sohail Tanvir has picked up nine wickets but his economy rate stands at 6.

    Kanishkaa Balachandran is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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