April 30, 2010 By Krishna
Bangladesh and Pakistan meet in T20 World Cup Group-A match at the Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet, St Lucia on Saturday. Pakistan have endured a typically nightmarish year since they lifted this trophy, but have a chance to redeem themselves in the Caribbean.
Venue and conditions:
We can expect the pitch at the Beausejour Stadium to conform to the recent Caribbean trend for dry, slow spin-friendly wickets. There is also a possibility of meteorological intervention with thunder showers common in St Lucia at this time of year.
Pakistan have won 73% of their Twenty20 matches, a higher percentage than any other country
Bangladesh toured the Caribbean last year so will be very familiar with the conditions. They won all 3 ODI’s against a very weak West Indies side who were missing all their star players due to an internal dispute but worryingly, they did lose the only T20 on that particular tour.
The excellent Shakib Al Hasan skippers the side and the squad is still a very young one with the majority of their players aged 25 and under. Tamim Iqbal is a key man at the top of the order, on his day he can score extremely quickly but needs to add consistency to harness his undoubted talent. Mashrafe Mortaza will spearhead their attack, but it remains to be seen whether the Tigers pick their other quick Rubel Hossain or pack their bowling attack with spinners.
They have plenty of slow bowling options which will no doubt be called upon in double quick time if the pace bowlers prove expensive. After losing to Ireland in the first group stage in last year’s tournament, it is hard to be confident of their chances but the overall trend in performance level of Bangladesh shows promise and they could be dangerous opponents if Pakistan gives them a sniff.
Pakistan have to defend their crown and this will be their first major test since the upheaval of changing captains and the suspensions dished out to senior players last year. Younis Khan is gone and Boom Boom Afridi takes over as skipper.
Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal, Saeed Ajmal and Misbah Ul Haq are the senior men but they will surely miss the injured Umar Gul who was quite brilliant with the ball in this competition last year. There are some promising youngsters, especially Mohammed Aamer who is still only 18 and a real prospect with the ball and Umar Akmal with the bat. Pakistan have not had much action lately and many of the players will benefit from a series of warm up games. They shared a two match T20 series with England one a piece in Dubai in February but could still be a bit rusty as none of the squad competed in the IPL.
Pakistan have to decide exactly where Shahid Afridi will bat, but aside from that, the team is fairly settled. The absence of Umer Gul reduces their bowling options but I’d expect Abdul Razzaq could get the nod ahead of fellow seamer Mohammed Sami.
It will be interesting to see how Pakistan start their defence of the T20 crown because some of their early performances in this tournament last year were completely irresponsible. At their best though they can cause problems for anyone but Umar Gul’s absence is a major blow to their hopes. I’ll give the exciting Umar Akmal a shout of being their top batsman but I will stay from the match betting in this game which may not be as straight forward as the market suggests.
Bangladesh have enough talent to cause a shock and Pakistan are notorious slow starters, so a surprise could be on the cards. However, if anything, the pressure is on Bangladesh to start turning occasional glory into consistent success and the Tigers have also played very little Twenty20 cricket in recent months.
Pakistan for once appears to be focused on the job in hand. Shahid Afridi looks an inspirational leader and they have Bangladesh outgunned in every department, including spin-bowling, likely to be a significant factor on this pitch.
Australia are firm favourites to top the group so if the betting proves to be correct, the loser of this game could be in for a short stay.
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