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Pakistan look to return to winning ways against spirited Bangladesh
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Pakistan look to return to winning ways against spirited Bangladesh

Pakistan had a dream run in the shorter format but not long ago, green-shirts were served a ruthless whitewash by Sri Lanka in their own backyard in October 2019 that culminated in Sarfaraz Ahmed's ousting - who spearheaded Pakistan to 11 T20I series wins - and the other series defeat came against Australia where Babar Azam called the shots for the first time. 

Consecutive series loss has pushed the panic button and prompted the all-powerful chief selector and head coach, Misbah-ul-Haq to bring his old teammates, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, back to the fold.

Misbah's apprentices would be feeling the heat with World Cup 2020 eight months away and the team looks desperate to return to winning ways. Pakistan are just hanging by a thread on the No.1 T20I ranking spot and one loss in the series would displace them from the summit. 

One possible factor for insipid performance at home against Sri Lanka was the high expectations of winning at home after a long cricket drought in Pakistan which might have got better of Sarfaraz-led-side but now playing at home is increasingly becoming a normalized affair and not to mention the fact that the new management has spent a couple of months to settle down as well, therefore, Pakistan team is expected to come with renewed vigour and fresh strategy against a rugged Bangladesh side that generally plays well in subcontinent conditions. 

ALSO READ: Tearaway quick Haris Rauf vows to make most of opportunity

Pakistan struggled against the guile and wizardry of Sri Lankan spinners; Wanindu Hasaranga and Lakshan Sandakan ran through Pakistan batting line-up and Bangladesh, as always, feature quality spinners. Aminul Islam, Mehidy Hasan and captain Mahmudullah will look to stymie the run-flow in the middle overs but the pattern of struggle against spin could change with the return of Hafeez and Malik as they fancy taking on spinners.

On the other hand, it's a novel experience for Bangladesh. Mahmudullah-led-side is visiting Pakistan after a decade or so and the extraneous factors could come into play. Only Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah have visited the shores before; the experienced pair played in the Asia Cup back in 2008 in Pakistan. 

Mushfiqur Rahim's absence certainly weakens the visitor's middle order. The wicket-keeper batsman has pulled the side out of trouble on numerous occasions and seldom gives his wicket away cheaply but he is not part of the touring party owing to his family's security concerns. 

Also, the seasoned campaigner Shakib-al-Hasan will miss the tour after being banished by the International Cricket Council for not reporting corrupt approaches to Anti-Corruption-Unit. Mashrafe Mortaza has also hung up his boots from the shorter format which makes it incumbent upon the young players to step up to the plate. 

As far as bowling is concerned, Mustafizur Rahman would be leading the pace battery and he has been in good nick of late, he picked up 20 scalps in the BPL. 

Shafiul Islam, Al-Amin Hossain and Rubel Hossain have got the firepower to create panic in Pakistan batting ranks. Also, Hasan Mehmud, the 20-year-old uncapped pacer had a terrific run at the BPL and he holds promise to shine at the international level. 

Wholesale changes have been made to Pakistan team over the past few months. Khushdil Shah, Musa Khan, Usman Qadir have just been added to the mix and the latest inclusions of Haris Rauf, Ahsan Ali and Amad Butt offers these newcomers to grab some spots before the marquee tournament. Four of these six aforementioned players are yet to make debut in Twenty20. Khushdil and Qadir were part of the T20 squad for Australia but didn't get an opportunity to strut their stuff.

ALSO READ: Amad, Ahsan in good spirits ahead of T20I series against Bangladesh

Mohammad Amir has been dropped from the side following lukewarm performances even though he hogged the limelight and seemed to be back on the rails in the recently concluded Bangladesh Premier League where he picked up a record six wickets by giving away only 17 runs in a sensational spell against Rajshahi Royals.

As far as the batting line-up is concerned, Pakistan hopes will hinge on Babar Azam, who has been in sublime form in the shortest format. He stands on top of batsmen rankings and has been a prolific run-scorer in the T20 format. 

Babar has been a major cog in the wheel for Pakistan and immensely helped the side to climb up to the number one ranking in the T20 format. The power-hitting department has been bolstered by the addition of Iftikhar Ahmed whose coruscating strokeplay provided the much-needed impetus in Australia where there were frequent batting collapses and he was the rare bright spot in that series, amassing 45 and 62* in two T20s.

The surface at Gaddafi Stadium offers assistance to spinners and fast bowlers tend to rely more on change up deliveries, slower ones and they use cutters to great effect. Considering the match is going to start in the afternoon, the due factor won't be a hindrance.

Pakistan Squad

Babar Azam (capt), Ahsan Ali, Ammad Butt, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah, Shoaib Malik, Usman Qadir

Bangladesh Squad

Mahmudullah (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Naim, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Liton Das (wk), Mohammad Mithun (wk), Afif Hossain, Mahedi Hasan, Aminul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Shafiul Islam, Al-Amin Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Hasan Mahmud