DHAKA: A young Australian squad, led by Matthew Wade, faces a tough challenge maintaining an unbeaten Twenty20 International record against Bangladesh during the five-match series, which starts at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka from Tuesday.

This is the first bilateral series between the two sides, while their previous four meetings — all won by Australia — were in T20 World Cups.

The series offers ample opportunities for both teams to prepare for the T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Oman in October-November.

Despite their unbeaten record against the hosts, Australia are missing key regulars, including the injured duo of Steve Smith and Aaron Finch. David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are among the stars who opted out of the West Indies and Bangladesh tours.

Australia lost their five-match T20 series 4-1 in the West Indies last month.

Cricket Australia, meanwhile, named Wade as captain for the series which will be played over just seven days in an empty stadium and concludes Aug 9.

Wade replaces regular captain Finch after he returned to Australia to undergo surgery on a knee injury sustained in the Caribbean recently.

The 33-year-old Wade takes the captain’s arm-band for the second time in his career having previously led the team during the second Twenty20 meeting with India in Australia in December.

“I’m going to be wicket-keeping, so the distance between bowler and myself is a lot greater,” said Wade of the challenge he faces leading the Australia side. “That means that there’s a lot more responsibility on the individual, the bowler and the senior players around that to help me out around the ground.

“When you’re coming in and taking over from someone it’s just giving the ability for those guys to take ownership of their game and at the top of the mark, they need to execute.”

Alex Carey took over from Finch as captain of the one-day side during the 2-1 series win over the West Indies and Wade believes his experience can lift Australia’s youthful batting line-up despite losing the Twenty20 series in the Caribbean.

“Where my leadership might come in a little more is with our batting group,” he said. “We’ve probably got a younger batting group than we’ve had on these tours, not a lot of international experience between all our batters.

“The bowling takes care of itself with guys like [Adam] Zampa, [Mitchell] Starc and [Josh] Hazelwood they’ve all played a lot of cricket together and they can take care of themselves.”

Fast bowler Riley Meredith was ruled out on Monday after a side strain and replaced by Tasmanian quick Nathan Ellis.

Bangladesh are without senior batter Mushfiqur Rahim and wicket-keeper/batter Liton Das due to Covid-19 protocols that require players to join an isolation bubble at least 10 days before the series, while opening batter Tamim Iqbal will also miss the series due to an injury.

“You’ve got to be able to play T20 cricket on a good wicket because that is what you are going to face when we play in the World Cup,” Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo has said. “I don’t think we are a bad T20 team at all and think we’ve got some wonderful T20 players.”

Teams (from):

BANGLADESH: Mahmudullah (captain), Soumya Sarkar, Naim Sheikh, Shakib Al Hasan, Nurul Hasan Sohan, Afif Hossain, Shamim Hossain, Mohammad Saifuddin, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Nasum Ahmed, Mahedi Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Mithun, Taijul Islam, Mosaddek Hossain, Rubel Hossain.

AUSTRALIA: Matthew Wade (captain), Ashton Agar, Wes Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Dan Christian, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Nathan Ellis, Josh Philippe, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

Umpires: Sharfuddoula Saikat (Bangladesh) and Masudur Rahman (Bangladesh).

TV umpire: Gazi Sohel (Bangladesh).

Match referee: Neeyamur Rashid (Bangladesh).

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2021

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