| Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim, in Pallekele, on Monday |
Pallekele: Title aspirants Pakistan would look to ensure a Super Eights berth by topping their pool when they take on Bangladesh in their final Group D clash of the World T20, here on Tuesday.
Pakistan and Bangladesh have clashed five times since the inception of the format and the former has always emerged victorious in the slam-bang battles.
Pakistan are among the favourites to clinch a second title and led inspiringly by opener Mohammed Hafeez, the team looked every bit a genuine contender in their 14-run triumph over New Zealand in the opening group clash on Sunday.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, were blown away by the Black Caps in their lung-opener and it would be tough for them to regroup easily against another tough opponent.
It was a rare clinical performance by the infamously temperamental Pakistan with the entire top half of batting making decent contributions.
The bowlers were also disciplined with their miserly spells, stifling the New Zealand line-up — Saeed Ajmal being the star with a four-wicket haul.
Led by Hafeez, all the top order batsmen, be it Nasir Jamshed or Imran Nazir, made good contributions. Umar Akmal too was in his element during his cameo but all-rounder Shoaib Malik remains a worry.
Sending him ahead of the aggressive Shahid Afridi against New Zealand didn’t work as Pakistan’s scoring rate suffered and it would be interesting to see how the line-up shapes up on Tuesday.
The bowling attack looks just perfect for the conditions with Ajmal, against whom most of international batsmen have so far struggled to get going, being Pakistan’s trump card.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, would aim for a much-improved performance. Most of their batsmen, including the reliable ones like Tamim Iqbal and Shakib-al Hasan, failed to fire in the opening game. The bowlers were also taken to the cleaners by the same New Zealanders who just could not take off against Pakistan.
But if Bangladesh manage to produce the surprise act that has disturbed set equations in the past, it would turn out to be an interesting battle between the two sub-continental rivals.
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim is banking on former Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq will help counter Ajmal.
Bangladesh need a big win to have any chance of advancing to the Super Eights but Ajmal’s danger looms large after the off-spinner took 4/30 in Pakistan’s win over New Zealand.
Saqlain regarded as the inventor of ‘doosra’ — off-spinner’s stock delivery which turns the other way and has been mastered by Ajmal — is currently serving as Bangladesh’s bowling coach.
“Ajmal is a world-class bowler but we have taken help from Saqlain who is very experienced. But we have to execute our plans on the field and it’s a do-or-die match for us… Pakistan are not unbeatable if we play well,” said Rahim.
Ajmal is the leading wicket-taker in T20 Internationals with 64 scalps and his wicket-taking ability poses a real challenge for Bangladesh. “Playing Pakistan is a big challenge because their bowling is good but we want to give our best to qualify for the next round,” said Rahim, whose team had reached the second round in the inaugural World T20, in South Africa, in 2007.