After weeks of deliberations, the Bangladesh tour of Pakistan is finally underway and it will start with the first T20I on Friday scheduled to be played in Lahore.
Pakistan’s performance in T20I cricket over the last 12 to 18 months hasn't been poor overall, but recently, they have been on a bit of a slump.
After Misbah-ul-Haq took over as new coach, he made some changes in the squad and tried some out of favour players. However, it brought disastrous results and disturbed the balance of the team.
The head coach cum chief selector has now gone back to the tried and tested combination which took Pakistan to the top of the ICC T20I rankings. The veterans Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez have been recalled and both of them are most likely to start right away.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, are trying to cope up with the loss of their talisman Shakib Al Hasan who is on a ban at the moment having failed to report the corruption approaches to the ICC.
Bangladesh played well in the first game of the T20I series against India last year without Shakib, but their middle order was found out in the next two games as India won the series 2-1.
The lack of experience might hurt Bangladesh in the series against Pakistan as well, as apart from Shakib, they wouldn’t have the services of Mushfiqur Rahim either, who has pulled himself out of the Pakistan tour citing security concerns.
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Date: 24th January (Friday)
Time: 02:30 pm IST
Venue: Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore
Lahore might be really cold on Friday with the minimum temperature forecasted during the day being as low as 6 degree Celsius. However, the good thing for the players is that the match is scheduled to take place in the afternoon. The humidity level is going to be 52 per cent.
The pitch at the Gaddafi stadium has traditionally been very flat over the years. However, the spinners get a little bit of turn at this venue at times. Since the match wouldn’t go into the late hours of the evening, there wouldn’t be any dew and the spinners wouldn’t have too much of difficulty gripping the ball.
Since dew wouldn’t affect this match, it reduces the significance of the toss as well, as the playing conditions will more or less remain the same right through the game.
Tamim Iqbal is back for Bangladesh after the paternity leave and he will open the batting with Liton Das. The left-handed young sensation Naim Sheikh, who played fantastically well on the India tour, might be slotted at no. 3, while Soumya Sarkar might bat at no. 4.
Mohammad Mithun and the skipper Mahmudullah will be Bangladesh’s finishers, while Afif Hossain will be the spin bowling all-rounder at no. 7. The leg spinner Aminul Islam will also get another go, having impressed in the series against India.
Predicted XI: Tamim Iqbal, Liton Das, Naim Sheikh, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah (C), Afif Hossain, Aminul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain
Mohammad Hafeez might open the batting for Pakistan with Babar Azam in the absence of Fakhar Zaman. The wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan might be slotted at no. 3, with Shoaib Malik being slotted at no. 4 to control the innings in the middle overs.
Iftikhar Ahmed and Amad Butt might be given the finishing roles by the Pakistani team management, while Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan will be the two spin-bowling all-rounders batting at no. 7 and no. 8 respectively.
Predicted XI: Babar Azam (C), Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, Amad Butt, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain, Musa Khan
While the Bangladeshi side are a little depleted at the moment, Pakistan wouldn’t come into this series with a great deal of confidence either. However, Pakistan might still prove to be a bit too strong for Bangladesh in their own conditions. The prediction is for Pakistan to win the match and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
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