Tricky opening challenge for in-form Pakistan
Tuesday, November 29
Start time 1700 (1100 GMT)
It is all coming together for Pakistan cricket. Since the sordid English summer of 2010, Misbah-ul-Haq's side has stayed clear of controversy with a sense of purpose and discipline rarely seen in Pakistan outfits. That discipline has now permeated into their cricket; they have sacrificed some of their inherent flash in favour of winning ugly, and are yet to lose a bilateral series this year. One test remains - have they overcome their tendency to slip on the odd banana peel?
Bangladesh are among the more treacherous banana peels going around. Pakistan would know - their defeat in a 1999 World Cup encounter between the sides is still being spoken about. That loss paved the way for Bangladesh attaining Test status, and three years later they nearly toppled Pakistan in the long format, before Inzamam-ul-Haq pipped the thriller by a one-wicket margin. That tour, in 2003, was the last bilateral encounter between these sides. Here's to a renewal of rivalries.
The one-off Twenty20 offers Bangladesh their best chance of an upset. They recently outplayed West Indies in a similar tour-opening Twenty20 game. Pakistan have been on the road for a while now, and are unlikely to be caught unprepared, but Misbah-ul-Haq's men would be wary, all the same.
Pakistan: WWWLW (most recent first)
Watch out for …
Pakistan fans will have their first sighting of a raft of spinners on this tour, but few will match the allrounder Nasir Hossain for spunk. He gives his offbreaks a rip, fields with rare energy for a Bangladesh player, and celebrates his dismissal with outrageous WWE moves. Additionally, he packs a fair tonk with the bat.
The spot-fixing scandal robbed Pakistan of two of the most attractive fast-bowling talents in the game, but, in typically Pakistani fashion, they brushed aside the setback and found worthy replacements. Mohammad Khalil, who returns to the fold after a six-year gap, is the latest in the fast-bowling pipeline. His first stint at the highest level lasted only two Tests and three ODIs, but he will hope his second coming counts for more.
Pakistan are unlikely to change the combination that beat Sri Lanka on November 25, but will be tempted to give Younis Khan a game before the ODI and Test legs of the tour.
Pakistan (possible): 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Imran Farhat, 3 Asad Shafiq / Younis Khan, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Akmal (wk), 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Aizaz Cheema, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Saeed Ajmal
Bangladesh are without Mohammad Ashraful, who played in the West Indies T20. Mahmudullah who missed that game should come in for him.
Bangladesh (possible): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Alok Kapali, 4 Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Naeem Islam, 9 Abdur Razzak, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Shafiul Islam
Stats and trivia
- Pakistan and Bangladesh have played four Twenty20s, with the former winning all four
- Bangladesh have won only four of the 17 Twenty20 games they have played, of which only two were against a top-flight side - West Indies on both occasions
"It would be a big folly on our part to think we can walk over Bangladesh. We are playing a full series in Bangladesh after a long time and I have told the players to treat the series as a top ones because there will be lot of pressure on us."
Misbah-ul-Haq is not taking Bangladesh lightly at all
"West Indies were favourites against us as we don't usually play Twenty20s. At the end of the day, we bowled well and despite a hiccup in batting we finished as winners."
Mushfiqur Rahim is bullish about his team's chances
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo