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June 7, 2008
Match factsSunday, June 8
The Big PictureThe tournament opener between Pakistan and Bangladesh will be the sixth time the teams are playing each other in the last two months. Bangladesh had toured Pakistan for five one-dayers in April, a series that the hosts won 5-0. Though Pakistan will be expected to win tomorrow, beating Bangladesh at home may not be as easy.
While the rest of the world was besotted with the IPL, the Bangladesh players have spent their time training and trying to rectify individual weaknesses. Jamie Siddons, their Australian coach, said the practice sessions couldn't have gone better. Whether their outstanding practice will translate into a match-winning performance remains to be seen.
In such a short tournament, the result of every match is vital. The team that loses on Sunday will most likely have to depend on a three-way tie, unless rain intervenes, to progress to the finals. In such a scenario, the challenge for Pakistan's players, many of whom featured in the IPL, is to readjust their playing styles from Twenty20 to one-day mode.
Form guide - BangladeshLast five matches: LLLLL (most recent first)
Player to watch: Despite Mohammad Ashraful's woefully inconsistent performances, he remains Bangladesh's brightest batting talent. His recent form has been poor - 416 runs in his last 20 innings - but coach Jamie Siddons says he's been working on a new cut shot to play at deliveries he used to let go.
Form guide - PakistanLast five matches: WWWWW (most recent first)
Player to watch: Sohail Khan, Mohammad Asif's replacement in the squad, picked up a record 91 wickets during the Pakistan domestic season, his first. He made his debut against Zimbabwe earlier this year and has taken four wickets in three ODIs. Also watch out for Pakistan's biggest IPL flops - Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi.
Team newsBangladesh have left out top-order batsman Nazimuddin and allrounder Mehrab Hossain jnr from their XII for tomorrow's match, while uncapped Dolar Mahmud may have to wait on the sidelines.
Bangladesh (probable): 1. Tamim Iqbal, 2 Shahriar Nafees, 3 Mohammad Ashraful (capt), 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Alok Kapali, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza, 9 Farhad Reza, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Shahadat Hossain.
Pakistan have plenty of new players in their squad but they are likely to go with the tried and tested. Fawad Alam, the left-arm spinner and batsman, may get a look in if the pitch is on the slower side.
Pakistan (probable): 1 Salman Butt, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Younis Khan, 4 Mohammad Yousuf, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Shoaib Malik (capt), 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Fawad Alam, 9 Iftikhar Anjum, 10 Sohail Tanvir, 11 Umar Gul.
Pitch & conditionsThe pitch is expected to be slow and Ashraful said a total of around 250 would be competitive. The weather, however, is a concern with June marking the start of the monsoon. It has been raining over the last week but on the eve of the match it remained largely dry, although dark clouds meant the pitch and outfield were kept under wraps.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"Obviously my performance in the IPL was really good. I want to carry the success to this tri-series to cement my place in the team. I recently started playing for the country. It is a big responsibility. I am improving day by day."
"On a given day we can beat any team. We are improving and have a strong bench strength, with youngsters raring to get the national call. We need more time to rise higher. Everyone is learning at the moment."
Mohammad Ashraful, the Bangladesh captain, on his team's future.
"Not really. All our players average in the 20s or less. If one goes out, another one comes in with 20. My job is to make the ones averaging 20 average 35. If he was averaging 35 it would have been a huge blow for us."
Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, on his team missing Aftab Ahmed