Big picture: Teams share complicated relationship
Talk of rivalries has dominated the Asia Cup. India-Pakistan. Pakistan-Afghanistan. The Naagin derby. Heck, you could even throw in the Rohit derby.
Here’s another sizzling rivalry to kick off the Super Four stage. Pakistan and Bangladesh have endured a long and complicated relationship on and off the field, and Wednesday will be their first ODI meeting since the 2019 World Cup.
It was against Pakistan, of course, that Bangladesh had their breakthrough moment as a cricketing nation. It was also against Pakistan, however, that they experienced their most protracted struggle to turn the gains from that breakthrough into results on the field. Between Northampton 1999 and Mirpur 2015, Bangladesh beat every other opposition at least once in international cricket, but lost 40 straight games to Pakistan. Some of those defeats were genuine heartbreaks, not least those in the Asia Cups of 2012 and 2014.
They have turned a corner since then, certainly in ODIs where they’ve beaten Pakistan four times in their last five meetings, though the last of them was at the 2019 World Cup. Pakistan have dominated the rivalry since then, in Tests and T20Is, but those results will have little bearing on Wednesday’s match since the 50-overs format is where Bangladesh are at their strongest.
You’d have to count Pakistan as favourites since they’re playing at home and seem to have every base covered as befits the world’s No. 1 ODI side. Bangladesh, already weakened by injuries to key players, are now also without Najmul Hossain Shanto, their most in-form batter. But they’re a smart, experienced group who know their way around ODI cricket, and they’re familiar with the conditions with Lahore, having pulled off a rousing win there over Afghanistan on Sunday. Expect them to be well-prepared and ready for whatever Pakistan have to throw at them.
Pakistan WWWWL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
In the spotlight: Fakhar Zaman and Shoriful Islam
Since scoring three hundreds on the bounce against New Zealand in May, Fakhar Zaman has made 19, 14, 33, 2, 30, 27 and 14 in his last seven ODI innings. If he gets in against Bangladesh, he’ll try his hardest to make sure he stays in.
It’s early days yet, but Shoriful Islam has a terrific record after 19 ODIs, with 30 wickets at an average of 24.93. The left-arm quick is fresh off a three-wicket haul against Afghanistan, and could cause Pakistan’s top order problems if he can get the new ball moving around.
Team news: Litton set to replace Shanto
Pakistan played the same XI in both their group games, but start the Super 4s with one change. They’ve left out Mohammad Nawaz for the Bangladesh game, and in comes Faheem Ashraf, the medium-pacer, who was included in the XI on the eve of the fixture. Pakistan’s decision to leave left-arm spinner Nawaz out could be because of the many left-hand batters in the Bangladesh line-up.
Pakistan: 1 Fakhar Zaman, 2 Imam-ul-Haq, 3 Babar Azam (capt), 4 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 5 Agha Salman, 6 Iftikhar Ahmed, 7 Shadab Khan, 8 Faheem Ashraf, 9 Shaheen Shah Afridi, 10 Naseem Shah, 11 Haris Rauf.
Litton Das, who has recovered from the illness that kept him out of the group stage, is expected to walk back into the top order in place of Shanto. It will be interesting to see if he opens, or if Mehidy Hasan Miraz remains there after his century against Afghanistan.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 3 Litton Das, 4 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Towhid Hridoy, 7 Shamim Hossain, 8 Afif Hossain, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Shoriful Islam, 11 Hasan Mahmud.
Pitch and conditions
Conditions at the Gaddafi Stadium tend to be batting-friendly, with the last five ODIs here producing three 300-plus first-innings totals as well as Sri Lanka’s 291 against Afghanistan on Tuesday. The weather is expected to be hot and dry, with temperatures in the mid-30s Celsius.
Stats and trivia
Bangladesh are yet to beat Pakistan in Pakistan in any format. They have lost each of their meetings in 11 ODIs, five Tests and three T20Is.
Shaheen Shah Afridi (22.39) has the best average of all Pakistan bowlers with at least 50 ODI wickets ahead of Sarfraz Nawaz (23.22), Wasim Akram (23.52) and Waqar Younis (23.84).
Mohammad Rizwan is one catch short of 50 as a keeper in ODIs. He has also taken 12 catches as a fielder.