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By Shrikant Shankar
Mar 3, 2014
Bangladesh take on Pakistan in the eighth match of the Asia Cup 2014 at Mirpur on March 4, 2014. Bangladesh enter the match with two losses in two and they face an almighty task of entering the final. Pakistan on the other hand, have won two and lost one from their three matches so far. A win for Pakistan would seal a spot in the final in the Asia Cup.
Pakistan played a sensational thriller of a contest against India on March 2 to all but knock their arch-rivals out of the contention. Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi were the star performers for Pakistan in a narrow one-wicket win on Sunday. India had posted a competitive 245 for eight in their 50 overs after Misbah-ul-Haq had sent them into bat.
The defending champions chased down the target with two deliveries remaining as Afridi struck two consecutive sixes in the final over. That put Pakistan on top of the points table ahead of Sri Lanka, before the latter’s match against Afghanistan on Monday.
A victory against India is always cherished and Pakistan would ideally go into their match against Bangladesh with the same starting XI. Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad gave Pakistan a bright and solid opening partnership. Their 71-run stand for the first wicket gave Pakistan the base needed to win the match against India.
Hafeez top-scored for Pakistan at No 3 with 75 off 117 deliveries. He was the Man of the Match, as he also took two wickets. Misbah was run-out and Umar Akmal threw his wicket away, but they are important batsmen for Pakistan and would most certainly play against Bangladesh.
Sohaib Maqsood shared 87-run partnership with Hafeez for the fifth wicket against India and that should stand him in good stead. Then Afridi came in and blazed Pakistan into victory. Afridi is also on 499 international wickets.
The bowling attack takes care of itself with Umar Gul, Junaid Khan and Ajaml as the strike bowlers. Mohammad Talha impressed on debut and should be retained in the final XI.
For Bangladesh, morale will be down after losses against India and Afghanistan. While India were clinical against the hosts, Afghanistan were too good on the day against them. Bangladesh were without some of their key players in Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal and Mashrafe Mortaza against Afghanistan. But they were poor in all three departments.
This will be an emotionally charged atmosphere as the local fans would be desperate for their team beat Pakistan. There is a lot of history in this clash and the last time the two teams met in the Asia Cup was in the final. Bangladesh lost that by an agonisingly close margin. So, they would want to settle scores.
Bangladesh: Anamul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim (c & wk), Shamsur Rahman, Imrul Kayes, Nasir Hossain, Naeem Islam, Mominul Haque, Arafat Sunny, Ziaur Rahman, Abdur Razzak, Sohag Gazi, Mashrafe Mortaza, Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Shahid Afridi, Umar Akmal (wk), Sohaib Maqsood, Fawad Alam, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Anwar Ali, Bilawal Bhatti, Mohammad Talha.
Time: 8:00 GMT I 13:30 IST
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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