DHAKA: Pakistan have already shown their unpredictability in the tournament. They were limp during the defeat to India in the opening match and fought back against Australia to keep their chances alive in the World T20. They are the only team to have reached the semifinals of every World T20 so far, and need to win their last two matches to keep that record intact.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, are having a horror season, and now have three successive defeats in the tournament. Their defeat to West Indies on Tuesday was their second-worst by margin of runs in the format and was followed by a big loss to India. Their captain Mushfiqur Rahim has urged players to come out with their natural game rather than playing for their places. The semifinals look out of their reach, especially given their record of never having beaten a top-eight team in a Twenty20 other than West Indies. Despite the poor record, Bangladesh’s fans continue to be passionate supporters, and Mushfiqur’s side will hope to give them something to brighten up their Sunday.
If Pakistan beat Bangladesh, they won’t need to worry about net run-rates (unless there is a washout). They will have two wins, on par with West Indies, who they face in their final league game - the winner of that match will join India as semifinalists from Group 2. Shakib Al Hasan, once again, is the man Bangladesh will expect to create a difference with both ball and bat. He’s had two successive low scores with the bat, and will want to correct that, particularly against a tricky Pakistan attack.
Ahmed Shehzad has had a quiet tournament so far. His dismissals against India and Australia weren’t a true reflection of the young aggressive batsman known for his powerful hitting. He has thrived in these conditions in the past, as recently as Asia Cup which ended earlier this month, and was the top run-getter in the Bangladesh Premier League in 2012 with 486 runs. He needs to find that form again, or Pakistan will be tempted to turn to their back-up opener, the left-hander Sharjeel Khan.
Bangladesh’s combination is in disarray as they have been experimenting since the Hong Kong debacle. They have tried all their resources in the tournament and there’s a strong chance there will be more reshuffling in the batting line-up. Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim are likely to bat at 3 and 4 respectively, which could open up a spot for Sabbir Rahman once more. Sohag Gazi could also make way for Abdur Razzak. Pakistan could stick to the XI that won them the game against Australia, though they might be tempted to pick Sohail Tanvir in place of Bilawal Bhatti, who was taken for 36 runs in his two overs against Australia.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Mahmudullah, Ziaur Rahman, Sohag Gazi/Abdur Razzak, Mashrafe Mortaza, Al-Amin Hossain.
Pakistan: Kamran Akmal (wk), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Maqsood, Bilawal Bhatti/Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar.
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