August 28, 2001

ATC Test: Pakistan favourites in the heat at Multan (Preview)

Multan, one of Pakistan's major industrial towns will host the first Test Match of the 2nd Asian Test Championship. It's being played at the most modern cricket stadium in Pakistan recently built at a cost of over $2.5 million and is expected to be a big festival for the people of Multan. If the scorching heat of Multan is not an impediment, cricket lovers should throng the stadium to watch the stars of Pakistan and the upcoming young players from Bangladesh, in action.

Being the inaugural match of the Multan Cricket Stadium where every thing is brand new, nothing can be said about the nature of pitch and the ground. One thing is sure, for the disparity between the strengths of the two teams, the test will end in a result.

Having been granted test status in June last year, Bangladesh is still a new entrant in the Test Club. They have so far played 3 tests, one against India and two against Zimbabwe and lost all of them. Their exuberance to improve, however, has no bounds. To come in line with other test playing countries of the world in quick time, they have engaged a trio of top former cricketers as coaches, Javed Miandad (Pakistan), Andy Roberts (West Indies) and Trevor Chappell.

Such keenness on their part is bound to bring encouraging results. Let us not forget that they sprung a surprise by defeating Pakistan by 62 runs in a 1999 World Cup match. That being the Bangladesh's biggest triumph continues to act as a motivating factor for the team.

The tourists know their limitations and this was evident from skipper Naimur Rahman's statement "we do not care what people call us. We are a new Test nation and will learn and come up with time." The tourists are certainly not allowing themselves to be intimidated by Pakistan, the winners of the last Asian Test Championship. Coach Trevor Chappell feels that his team should go out with a positive frame of mind and have five honest days work-out against a good side like Pakistan.

Despite the superiority Pakistan enjoys, coach Richard Pybus is in no mood to take the tourists lightly. He is of the opinion that `Bangladesh is just like other teams and we won't take them lightly. If you take your opponents lightly you fall on your back.' Skipper Waqar Younis also has similar views.

The visitors have just played a practice match against a young PCB XI at Karachi, which ended in a very honourable draw. The team does not possess a front line attacking bowler but its spinners are very effective. Having scored the first Test century (145) for his country against India, Aminul Islam is perhaps the best batsman in the side, though he was only able to score 36 and 1 run in the match at Karachi.

Pakistan has already announced a squad of 16 players that includes superstar fasties, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. As usual the playing XI is to be announced just before the game. A few youngsters are likely to make the team to gain experience. The top among them may be off spinner Shoaib Malik known as a photocopy of Saqlain Mushtaq, who is away in England.

In the final analysis, Pakistan is definitely a superior side with all prospects of winning the test. Whether it ends up as a one-sided affair or a hard fought battle, depends on the resistance offered by the Bangladesh team.

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