Less than 10 days after their World Cup 2021 campaign came to an end, Pakistan are in Dhaka to take on Bangladesh in the 1st T20I. Traditionally, no one has quaked when facing Bangladesh, but here are five reasons why the current crop of the Tigers, in their own den, should not be taken lightly.
1- Wounded Tigers
While Pakistan’s World Cup campaign was full of highs until the sole low, Bangladesh’s were abysmal all through the tournament. They started their campaign with an upset defeat to Scotland before a slight improvement in their form saw them make it to the main round. But in the main round they were unable to win even a single game.
It was a horrible tournament for Bangladesh, and now they’d be desperate to bounce back. The motivation for the wounded Tigers to bounce back would be immense, making this the worst possible time to face them in their own backyard.
2- Potentially unmotivated Pakistan team
After painful heartbreaks, the best thing to do is to go on holiday to recharge batteries. The last thing you need is another difficult assignment under difficult circumstances without even a few days within the comfort of your home.
But that’s the equation for Team Pakistan, which has been sent directly from Dubai to Dhaka, where pitches are unlike anything found elsewhere. On top of it, Pakistan last toured Bangladesh five years ago, which means they could be unfamiliar with the local conditions, which could make this tour a potential banana skin.
3- Bangladesh's home dominance
Those who could be blinded by Bangladesh’s abysmal World Cup showing should know that they are one of the most dominant home teams in world cricket. In fact, in the past three years, they’ve won 26 of the 37 matches (all formats) played at home. That’s a win percentage of 70, and that figure is better than what India (64 per cent), New Zealand (67pc), Australia (59pc), England (59pc) boast in their own backyard. In fact, the only top-level team with a better win percentage at home during the same span is Pakistan (71 … the irony!).
Add to it the fact that both the World Cup finalists recently toured Bangladesh and were not just beaten but humiliated. Australia, the first to visit of the two, were beaten 4-1 in August and seemed as helpless as they’ve ever been in their history. New Zealand arrived next month and did slightly better as they were beaten 3-2.
Even though both the teams were missing several regulars, they were still Australia and New Zealand, and both were brought to their knees.
4- Set system
Bangladesh have a set system in place and they openly and unabashedly use it in their favour. The wickets they prepare are slow, dusty and two-paced. They generate a horrible experience for the batters, and are a paradise for slow and suffocating bowlers. As long as you have 140ish to defend, you are in business. The ball stays low and turns, which is perfect for Bangladesh whose bowling arsenal has several options that can exploit such conditions.
5- Pakistan missing regulars
The 12-man squad named by Pakistan for the 1st T20I is missing a number of regulars, which means that the team think tank already has it in its mind that this will be an easy assignment. Resting the regulars in a dead rubber or when the series is already wrapped would have made sense, but in the series opener under unfamiliar conditions, Pakistan needed to go full strength.
Asif Ali and Imad Wasim have been left out of the matchday squad, while Mohammad Hafeez withdrew himself. A middle-order featuring Haider Ali and Khushdil Shah suddenly does not rank high on reliability, especially when the ball is turning and staying low and they haven’t batted in international cricket for months.