Unchallenged Pakistan aim for clean sweep
Tuesday, December 6
Start time 1330 (0730 GMT)
The fact that the third ODI is a dead rubber is hardly surprising. There has not been an ounce of competitiveness in each of the three games so far in this tour. Nasir Hossain's battling century in the second game in Mirpur wasn't enough to mask the bigger problem for Bangladesh - the batting. The overall reaction among passionate Bangladesh fans, going by feedback received by ESPNcricinfo, was not necessarily that of disappointment, but more specifically, anger. Some went as far as to question Bangladesh's right to participate at the international level. Their status as a Test nation has always been debated, though now fans have extended that discussion towards their ODI status too. Public memory is short. It's easy to forget that just over a year ago, Bangladesh thrashed a listless New Zealand 4-0 at home.
It's the failure of the batsmen that has deflated the team. All efforts on the field have been nullified by the top order collapses. They were dismissed for 91 in the first game and in the second, the chase was all but lost at 19 for 4. Bangladesh threw in the towel at that stage. Given the situation, Bangladesh did the best they could to salvage some pride by batting out the 50 overs. It didn't make a good advertisement for one-day cricket, but in the process they discovered what Nasir is capable of. A bit more support from the top order would've been handy though.
"The wicket was really good in the last game, but there were several dot balls," Mahmudullah said. "Shakib and Nasir played well, especially Nasir who has taught us some stuff, like how to be patient against this attack."
There are fewer concerns for Pakistan. However, they didn't have the best outing in the field for the second match, spilling catches off Nasir and Shakib Al Hasan. Shahid Afridi had a rare off-day with the ball, conceding 49 off 7 overs and failing to take a wicket. The final game gives them a chance to rest a couple of players and give everyone in the squad a chance.
Bangladesh: LLWLL (most recent first)
In the spotlight...
Since his 128 against India in the 2009 Champions Trophy, Shoaib Malik has gone 14 innings without a fifty, with a highest of 39. He's been a shadow of the player he was when he was captain, and before. His bowling gives Pakistan another spin option, but he's in the team primarily as a batsman.
After hitting two half-centuries against Australia, Shahriar Nafees has done little of note, with the highest score of 14 in his last five ODIs. He has failed to recreate the kind of form he showed in 2006. It's been nearly five years since he scored an ODI century.
Pakistan are likely to make a couple of changes, dropping Imran Farhat and Sohail Tanvir, and bringing in Asad Shafiq and the left-arm seamer Mohammad Khalil.
Pakistan (probable) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Asad Shafiq, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq, (capt) 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Shahid Afridi, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Mohammad Khalil.
Imrul Kayes is set to miss out due to a groin injury, and will be replaced by Alok Kapali or Naeem Islam. If the pitch takes more turn than the one in Mirpur, Bangladesh could field a spin-heavy attack at the expense of a fast bowler.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Shahriar Nafees, 3 Alok Kapali/Naeem Islam, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Abdur Razzak, 9 Elias Sunny, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain.
Stats and trivia
- Bangladesh have found boundaries hard to come by at the start of the innings. In the Twenty20, they scored their first in the ninth over, in the first ODI it came in the sixth, but the wait was the longest in the second ODI - it took them 11 overs.
- Bangladesh have won both their day-night games at this venue, against England and West Indies.
"Some of the youngsters who've come into the side have worked hard to make their spot worthy. All of us have set a goal that we will now need to raise the bar."
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq
"The top order has no clue how to bat, and @ the moment it has left me clueless in regard to what I tweet next."
Former Bangladesh opener, now commentator Athar Ali Khan can't hide his disappointment while watching the second ODI
"Everyone says this is our lucky ground. Let's see what it can do for our fortunes. We have some good memories at this ground.
Mahmudullah points out a feel-good factor for his side to keep in mind
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo