Bangladesh v Pakistan, Group F, Cape Town September 19, 2007

Pakistan seek to keep momentum going

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Bangladesh v Pakistan, Cape Town, Thursday, September 20, 1400 local time
(1200 GMT)



Shahid Afridi could be promoted up the order against Bangladesh to get some batting practice © AFP

Both Pakistan and Bangladesh come into this match with their immediate future confirmed. While Pakistan savour their progress in the tournament, Bangladesh will be checking-in for a flight back to Dhaka on Friday. Beaten comprehensively by Australia and Sri Lanka in the Super Eights, Bangladesh's joy of upsetting the West Indian wagon earlier was short-lived as rash strokes and poor temperament got the better of their inexperienced batsmen.

Pakistan, however, should barely sweat after resounding wins over the World Cup finalists and few will bet against them not to beat lesser opposition with greater authority and conviction. But, given the extremes that Pakistan experience, a repeat of Bangladesh's victory over its Asian rivals at the 1999 World Cup should not be forgotten no matter how unlikely it seems at the moment.

Bat play: Bangladesh have the ability to score quickly but their batsmen have taken a queer aversion to prolonging their innings. They are missing a plan on how to pace their sojourn in the middle that often results in a lofted mis-hit after a flurry of strokes. Aftab Ahmed, with 147 runs in the tournament, has been their best batsman with Mohammad Ashraful, not his usual flowing self, providing some hope in the middle order.

Pakistan's only worry is their opening combination; Imran Nazir and Salman Butt have been huge disappointments and a promotion for Shahid Afridi is likely to give him some batting practice. Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq, the tournament's joint top-scorer, will try and add to Bangladesh's miseries.

Wrecking ball: Spin will be the key to Bangladesh's chances of stopping Pakistan from wreaking havoc. Shakib Al Hasan, the slow left-armer, has been their most successful bowler in the tournament but not the most economical. Their opening combination of Syed Rasel and Mashrafe Mortaza has yielded only three wickets and has failed to provide the initial breakthroughs.

Pakistan's bowling department, however, has no such concerns. Afridi already boasts a wicket-tally of ten and the offspinner Mohammad Hafeez did well to contain Australia. Sohail Tanvir, a late replacement for Shoaib Akhtar, has built up a reputation of picking up wickets in his first over while Mohammad Asif, with eight wickets so far, should be able to create panic among the Bangladesh batsmen with his annoying accuracy.

Keep your eyes on: Misbah was deemed by many as too old and inept for this format of the game. He has not only rescued Pakistan several times in this tournament, but has also hit the longest six. He also has 18 fours and three more sixes to go with that.

Shop talk: Pakistan's victory celebrations after their win against Australia even got the country's president involved. Pervez Musharraf not only lavished praise on the team but also awarded US$10,000 to each member. Bangladesh, however, are hoping for an upset at the end of a largely disappointing tournament.

Pitching it right: The weather is expected to be dry and warm and with Bangladesh having already played at this venue twice, they might want to make use of a batting pitch where England scored 188 against Zimbabwe. With a hard surface and good bounce, Asif and Tanvir could prove to be a handful.

Teams

Bangladesh (probable) Tamim Iqbal, Nazimuddin, Aftab Ahmed, Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Shakib Al Hasan, Nadif Chowdhury, Mahmudullah, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Abdur Razzak, Syed Rasel.

Pakistan (probable) Imran Nazir, Mohammad Hafeez, Salman Butt, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik (capt), Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal (wk), Misbah-ul-Haq, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Mohammad Asif.

Faras Ghani is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo