Coming from back-to-back losses at the hands of arch-rivals India, Pakistan will have their task cut out when they lock horns with a tricky Bangladesh in a semifinal of the Asia Cup at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. The winner of this game will face India in the finals on September 28 at Dubai.
While Pakistan’s batting has shown signs of improvement days after being bowled out for 162 in the first game against India, more needs to be done if they are to make the title clash, where India await. Pakistan’s X-factor at the top, Fakhar Zaman, has had a quite tournament and has been particularly challenged by India’s tactics of bowling within his stumps, negating the strength of hitting through the off-side. Their batting can learn from the senior-pro, Shoaib Malik, who has held this line-up together and saved Pakistan from a loss at the hands of Afghanistan.
Another concern with Pakistan has been the poor form of their pacemen. They have been unable to exert pressure on the opposition by not bowling consistent enough lines and lengths and as a result, the wickets haven’t come in their way. The biggest worry is the poor form of their pace spearhead Mohammed Amir, who seems to have lost that ability to swing the ball, which gives his side a much needed start.
After their nine-wicket loss at the hands of India, Mickey Arthur added that Pakistan are at their best in must-win games. “It’s a semi-final now. We have to find a way to dig ourselves out of the hole we are in at the moment. We will come back from this. We are at our best in must-win matches. That’s when we come to the party.”
Bangladesh, on the other hand, managed to sneak a win against Afghanistan in the last over when Mustafizur Rahman defended eight from the last over. Their side needs Shakib Al Hasan and opening batsmen to step-up in the tournament. Death bowling has also been a concern for Bangladesh and this is an area which needs improvement.
Shoaib Malik has been the corner stone of Pakistan’s batting. Pakistan batsmen haven’t been at their best in this tournament but Malik’s contribution have been invaluable. In the nerve-wracking game against Afghanistan, he stood right towards the end of the innings and saw Pakistan to a win. Malik will be crucial to Pakistan’s fortunes.
Shakib has long been the pinnacle of the Bangladesh side, and his performances have been instrumental in their rise as an international cricketing force. Shakib has performed quite well with the ball in this tournament, though, Bangladesh will need him to perform with the bat as well in the absence of Tamim Iqbal.
Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Sarfraz Ahmed(c), Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Asif Ali, Mohammad Amir
Shakib Al Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza(c), Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider Rony, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes