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Preview: Pace bowling remains a worry

September 24, 2012

pakistan bangladesh
Is it time to give Razzaq or Sami a game? -Photo by AFP

Match: Pakistan vs Bangladesh, 12thth Match of ICC World Twenty20, Group D. Venue: Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy, Sri Lanka Date & Time: Tuesday, September 25th, 2012, 19:00 PST / 14:00 GMT

Overall Rivalry: Demolition; Pakistan 5 wins Bangladesh 0 wins Momentum in the last 5 encounters: Runaway Train; Pakistan 5 wins Bangladesh 0 wins

Weather Report: Overcast with chances of thunderstorm and rain. High of 31 Celsius with winds from 20 to 25 km/h are expected. There is a 50% chance of showers. 1.3 mm possible.

22 Yard Report: Now, five out of five teams chasing a score have lost at the Pallekele International Stadium and the decision of winning the toss and batting first is fast becoming a no brainer. The true bounce is enjoyed by the batters while the same keeps the bowlers interested at all times. One eye will be on the weather, though, as many teams prefer chasing a target if the Duckworth-Lewis Method comes into play.

Game On: After what might have appeared as a strong performance from the Pakistani outfit on Sunday, they have not yet qualified for the Super Eights stage. New Zealand on the other hand has already gone through to the next round due to its superior net run rate courtesy a crushing victory over Bangladesh earlier in the tournament.

Pakistan has played Bangladesh in 44 international games across all three formats and has won 43 of those contests. Apart from Pakistan having a superior team there seems to be mental block within the Bangladeshi camp when playing against Pakistan. They have found themselves holding the ascendancy in games but have not managed to close the deal.

Dav Whatmore who has been at the bitter end of many of those Bangladesh defeats will find himself in a more comfortable position sitting in the Pakistani dressing room. He will also be able to provide the intricate tidbits about the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition players.

Saqlain Mushtaq on the other hand will try to do the same at the Bangladeshi nets. He will especially give insight on how to best tackle the Pakistani spin trio who have, in many ways, become the flag bearers of the legacy Saqlain himself left behind.

Pakistan’s spin provides variety and guile to rattle most oppositions but it is the fast bowling department that is still searching for Umar Gul’s partner. Gul himself needs to tighten up a little. If Sohail Tanvir remains off colour like he was in the first game, Pakistan might have to revert back to Mohammad Sami at some stage in the tournament. Abdul Razzaq and Yasir Arafat are handy all-rounders but lack the nip often required for a potent new ball bowler.

Bangladesh on the other hand needs its top four batsmen to fire. All-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has been pushed up the order to give him more balls to play with while their mainstay Tamim Iqbal and explosive talent Mohammad Ashraful are also in that mix. It will be essential for one of them to make it count if Bangladesh is to pull off a shocker.

Game Changer: Bangladesh does not just need to win but needs to win with a good margin to improve its net run rate and be tied with Pakistan on points. This could mean by winning with a margin of 37 runs and above or chasing a target in approximately 15 overs. These numbers could change with circumstantial positioning of the game and possible interference of rain. The result of this game will not decide its fate, instead the calculators will.

Pre-Game Talk: “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.”  Mohammad Hafeez knows his team’s strength.

“He is telling us how to read Ajmal, Afridi, [Umar] Gul and Hafeez. But the application of it will depend on us.” Mushfiqur Rahim knows that Saqlain Mushtaq can only give tips from outside the boundary ropes.

Last XI Fielded Bangladeshis: Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Nasir Hossain, Mahmudullah, Ziaur Rahman, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Shafiul Islam, Elias Sunny

Last XI Fielded Pakistanis:  Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal (wk), Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Arafat, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal.

Possible Changes: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix’ is a mantra many teams go by after winning a game. However, Pakistan might feel the need to tweak the spot for its medium paced all-rounder by substituting Abdul Razzaq for Yasir Arafat. Bangladeshi left arm spinner Elias Sunny who was ineffective in the first game might lose his place to the pace of Abul Hasan who is waiting on the sideline.

Final Words: On the face of things there is little that Pakistan needs to worry about but that is exactly when Pakistan is often most vulnerable. They need to keep their feet grounded and not think ahead of themselves.

Did you know? -Saeed Ajmal hasn't missed a single T20 international since his debut in this format. He has racked up a world record 43 consecutive matches.

-None of the Bangladeshi batsmen have accumulated 200 runs in the World T20 competitions. Mohammad Ashraful is the closest with 198 runs.

-Nasir Jamshed had only one six in T20Is before he hit four of them in the game versus New Zealand on Sunday.

-Mushfiqur Rahim and Kamran Akmal have kept wickets in all T20 games their country has played at the World T20 tournaments. Amongst other test playing nations, only Sri Lankas Kumar Sangakara makes that list.

-Only one Bangladeshi bowler has an economy rate under 7 in WorldT20 competitions. AbdurRazak is bordering it at 6.97.

-Sialkot Stallions have won 7 domestic T20 competitions in Pakistan out of a possible 10. Three of those wins were helmed by Imran Nazir and the remaining four by Shoaib Malik. Both should play today’s game.

-Bangladesh won their first ever World T20 match and knocked West Indies out in the first round of 2007 World T20. They have not managed to win a single game since and have lost nine on the trot.