Title aspirants Pakistan would look to ensure a Super Eight berth by topping their pool when they take on minnows Bangladesh in their final Group D clash of the ICC World Twenty20 cricket tournament on Tuesday.
Pakistan and Bangladesh have clashed five times since the inception of the format and the former has always emerged victorious in the slam-bang battles.
Pakistan, the 2009 World T20 champions, are among the favourites to clinch a second title and led inspiringly by opener Mohammad Hafeez, the team looked every bit a genuine contender in its 14-run triumph over New Zealand in the opening group clash on Sunday.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, were blown away by the Kiwis in their lung-opener and it would be tough for them to regroup easily against another tough opponent.
It was a rare clinical performance by the infamously temperamental Pakistan with the entire top half of batting making decent contributions.
The bowlers were also disciplined with their miserly spells, stifling the Kiwi line-up — Saeed Ajmal being the star with a four-wicket haul.
Led by Hafeez, all the top order batsmen, be it Nasir Jamshed or Imran Nazir, made good contributions. Umar Akmal too was in his element during his cameo but all-rounder Shoaib Malik remains a worry.
Sending him ahead of the aggressive Shahid Afridi against New Zealand didn’t work as Pakistan’s scoring rate suffered and it would be interesting to see how the line-up shapes up on Tuesday.
The bowling attack looks just perfect for the conditions with Ajmal, against whom most of international batsmen have so far struggled to get going, being Pakistan’s trump card.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, are out of Super Eight contention but would try to ensure that they go out with heads held high after a disappointing loss to New Zealand. Most of their batsmen, including the reliable ones like Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, failed to fire in the opening game. The bowlers were also taken to the cleaners by the same Kiwis who just could not take off against Pakistan.
But if Bangladesh manage to produce the surprise act that has disturbed set equations in the past, it would turn out to be an interesting battle between the two sub-continental rivals.
Bangladesh seek Saqlain help to tackle Ajmal
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim said feedback from former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq will help counter Saeed Ajmal in their do-or-die clash against Pakistan on Tuesday.
Bangladesh need a big win over the 2009 champions in their final group D match to advance to the Super Eights round but Ajmal’s danger looms large after the off-spinner took 4-30 in Pakistan’s 13-run win over New Zealand on Sunday. New Zealand, who have already qualified for Super Eights, beat Bangladesh by 59 runs in the opening group match. The top two teams from the group qualify for the Super Eights.
Saqlain regarded as the inventor of “doosra” — off-spinner’s stock delivery which turns the other way and is mastered by Ajmal — is currently serving as Bangladesh’s bowling coach.
“Ajmal is a world class bowler but we have taken help from Saqlain who is very experienced but we have to execute our plans on the field and it’s a do-or-die match for us but Pakistan is not unbeatable if we play well,” said Rahim.
Ajmal is the leading wicket taker in Twenty20 internationals with 64 and his wicket taking ability poses a real challenge for Bangladesh, who have lost all their five matches in this shortest format against Pakistan. “Playing Pakistan is a big challenge because their bowling is good but we want to put up our best to qualify for the next round,” said Rahim, whose team only reached the second round in the inaugural World Twenty20 held in South Africa in 2007.
Since then Bangladesh have lost nine consecutive matches in World Twenty20 editions. Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez said he feels blessed with a varied bowling attack, led by Ajmal.
“What else can you want when you have such a variety in your bowling attack,” said Hafeez, who along with Ajmal and Shahid Afridi holds spin responsibilities, with rookie left-armer Raza Hasan in reserves.
“As a captain it is a blessing for me. This is something I am very pleased to have that I have so many options in bowling and whenever I throw the ball to any of my bowlers he is ready to bowl,” said Hafeez.