Smarting from back-to-back losses at the hands of arch-foes India, Pakistan will have their task cut out when they lock horns with a tricky Bangladesh in a virtual semifinal of the Asia Cup in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
One of the two teams will be heading home after their final Super Four game at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium here and given the backlash they received after the reverses against India, former world and Asian champions Pakistan will be eager to raise their game.
While their batting has shown signs of improvement days after being bowled out for 160-odd runs, more needs to be done if they are to make the title clash, where India await. The struggling batsmen would do well to take a cue from the seasoned Shoaib Malik, who has been one of the few impressive performers from the side in the continental tournament, which they have won two times.
However, Pakistan's biggest concern is the poor form of pace spearhead Mohammed Amir, who seems to have lost sting and is struggling to take wickets, which is his primary job, and which was reiterated by his skipper Sarfraz Ahmed on the eve of the group game against India. Sarfraz's words did not have the desired effect as Amir and Co failed to deliver. Pakistan will hope the team gets the job done against Bangladesh and regain confidence. After their nine-wicket humiliation at the hands of India, coach Mickey Arthur said Pakistan have a huge task at hand. "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," he said. "I believe in our players. I think they are a fantastic bunch of players," he added. Bangladesh managed to scrape past a spirited Afghanistan in a last-over finish to keep their hopes alive, and having produced decent performances, save the loss against India, they will fancy their chances against Pakistan.
Teams (from): Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Sarfraz Ahmed(captain), Shoaib Malik, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Usman Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Asif Ali, Mohammad Amir.
Bangladesh: Masrafe Bin Mortaza (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Mithun, Litton Kumar Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Islam Apu, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Haider Rony. Match starts