Pakistan seek to clear path to final in today’s game against Bangladesh

Wednesday, 2 March 2016 01:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ESPNCricinfo: Teams are getting close to that stage of the Asia Cup when a place in the final is the only thing in their mind. Pakistan, who opened their account against UAE on Monday night after getting walloped by India, have a lot to do, and the first thing will be to beat Bangladesh, who are ahead of them by two points after their wins over UAE and Sri Lanka, and will have a clearer path to the final if they can win this contest.

Bangladesh were on fire against Sri Lanka, putting aside their T20 conservatism and taking the game by the collar. Sabbir Rahman’s brilliant 80 off 54 balls led the way, with Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah providing a fine finish. With the ball, Shakib did well again while Mashrafe Mortaza, Al-Amin Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman bowled critical overs with much confidence to stop Sri Lanka from overtaking their mediocre score.

The last of those names, Mustafizur, is missing due to a side strain, which will be a big blow to the home side. Mustafizur took two wickets on debut against Pakistan last year and has been bowling well lately too. On the other hand, Bangladesh’s batting will be bolstered by the return of Tamim Iqbal, after he returned to Dhaka from Bangkok where his wife gave birth to their first child. Tamim is in form too, having made 267 runs in six innings during the PSL last month. Pakistan will bank a lot on their bowling attack, especially Mohammad Amir who lit up the Asia Cup with his spells against India and UAE. They will expect more from the likes of Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Irfan, and the left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who was tonked around the park by UAE. Pakistan’s main concern will be their batting line-up, particularly their top order, which did not do well in the first two matches. Much will depend on Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik, and on Shahid Afridi and Sarfraz Ahmed down the order.

There is every chance of this being an excellent contest now that the Mirpur curator Gamini Silva is dishing out better pitches.