As soon as Pakistan's tour to Bangladesh was finalized, Shakib Al Hasan fired the first salvo from either side stating that this was his side's best chance to beat their much storied neighbours and that they would be starting the ODI series as favorites.
That may not have impressed the Pakistani fans too much, but Shakib's words do hold weight considering the recent record of both teams in ODIs.
Both Pakistan and Bangladesh lost in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. However, for Bangladesh, progressing to the knockouts was an achievement, a testimony of how they were no longer punching above their weight.
On the other hand, Pakistan have struggled in ODIs for a long time now and have just gone through an overhaul. The ‘new look’ squad has only six members from the team that competed at the World Cup and it hasn't started off too well. The shock loss to a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI on Wednesday, the only tour match before the three-match ODI series, was termed by Mohammad Hafeez as ‘just a warm up game’.
But could it be a sign of things to come?
If we look at the past record of the two sides, it would appear Bangladesh stand no chance. They have won only 88 out of the 300 ODIs that they have played; a Win percentage of 29, which is better only than Zimbabwe's among the Test playing nations. Against Pakistan, they have won only once in 32 ODIs and that win came 16 years ago. Even associate nations like Ireland, Afghanistan, Scotland, Netherlands, and Kenya have a better ODI win percentage than Bangladesh.
In recent times, however, Bangladesh have improved significantly, and their record at home is particularly notable. In 2012, they reached the final of the Asia Cup at home, while performing better than India and Sri Lanka in the tournament. In the past five years they have beaten New Zealand, West Indies, and Zimbabwe in ODI series played at home. In fact, New Zealand have not won any of the last 7 ODIs they played in Bangladesh.
If we take a look at ODIs played in the past five years, the period between January 2010 and now, there is a major improvement in Bangladesh's record. The deterioration of Pakistan's ODI record is also quite apparent.
While overall Pakistan has the third best record in ODI history, in the past five years they have been at the bottom half of the table. Bangladesh, mean while, have won 9% more games in the past five years than they have in their entired ODI history.
Bangladesh's record improves even further when you examine ODI performances of teams at home in the past five years. Their win percentage in limited-overs at home since January 1, 2010 increases to 43. While that is still lower than other teams on the ODI circuit, it is a stark improvement relative to their past performance.
Shakib's confidence isn't uncalled for. When you consider performances in recent ODI series, the reason become apparent.
Bangladesh are ranked 9th in ODIs, while Pakistan are ranked 7th. Both teams are at the bottom end of the table. Pakistan have not won an ODI series since December 2013 and they have lost their last four bilateral series. They have a new ODI captain, who has not played ODIs for two years now. They have a new look batting line up with only two survivors from their batting line up at the World Cup. Pakistan will be fielding a new team against a confident Bangladesh side, which has tasted success in recent times.
It is not going to be an easy ride for Pakistan, and they will need to take Shakib's seriously.
Umair Qazi is the founder of wellpitched.com, co-founder of the popular facebook group 'Boys in Green', and he tweets @wellpitched