IPL absentees look for early momentum
Match factsSaturday, May 1, St Lucia
Start time 1330 (1730 GMT)
Big PictureRust could conceivably be a part of it when Bangladesh and Pakistan open proceedings in a tight Group A. The defending champions have played six Twenty20 internationals since last year's final and Bangladesh only two. Neither set of players had any involvement in the IPL, though there was some competitive domestic T20s.
But the format bestows natural flavours to both sides; Pakistan's players are long used to it and of Bangladesh it is said that the shorter the format the greater their opportunity. Bald statistics, in win-loss numbers, don't bear this out but the threat remains greatest surely in this format, given the fine margins on which it is built.
In any case, Bangladesh are much improved recently, as performances against India and England indicate. In Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafe Mortaza they have the makings of a solid spine. Sprinkled around them, Pakistan will do well to understand, is credible danger in men such as Mohammad Ashraful, Aftab Ahmed, Mahmudullah and Abdur Razzak.
But even without Umar Gul, Pakistan will take some bringing down. Is there any side in the tournament as flexible? There are five allrounders (not including Kamran Akmal) in the squad and conceivably four of them will make any starting XI. If the batting is thinned, and will miss Shoaib Malik and even Younis Khan from last year, the bowling attack and its variety will be the envy of all.
Both sides are blessed with spin and it may well be a decisive factor.
Form guide (most recent first)Pakistan WLLWW
Watch out forPakistan's middle order is bare, so much will depend on Umar Akmal, their batting discovery of the last year. He hasn't quite exploded in the format just yet, but his skills are far too well-rounded for that to remain the case. He has the shots and the head and a couple of handy innings in the Champions Trophy last year hinted at a temperament for the big stage.
Shakib Al Hasan is Bangladesh's Atlas, a man eminently capable not only of propping up his side when needed, but dragging them along in his brilliance. In particular, given Pakistan's frailties against left-arm spin, his four overs will have to be carefully monitored. He hasn't struck gold with the bat yet in T20 internationals, but it is only a matter of time.
Team newsPakistan's ideal line-up should be fairly straightforward, especially the batting, in which there are fairly limited options. The bowling will depend on the surface; if there is spin, they can play two seamers (with Abdul Razzaq the third seamer) and have up to five spinning options. Otherwise they can play three fast bowlers (with Razzaq again) and still have four spinning options.
Pakistan (possible) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Shahid Afridi (capt), 4 Umar Akmal, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Fawad Alam, 7 Abdul Razzaq, 8 Mohammad Sami, 9 Mohammad Aamer, 10 Mohammad Asif, 11 Saeed Ajmal
Bangladesh (possible) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Mohammad Ashraful, 4 Aftab Ahmed, 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Naeem Islam, 7 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 8 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Syed Rasel
Stats and trivia
Quotes"I want to see the same body language whether we are playing Bangladesh or Australia."
Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's captain, will not be taking any team lightly.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo