After creating lots of smokes in the air and muds in water BCB finally agreed playing ICC set series of FTP in three phases. Three matches T20 series is going to be played in the first phase (all matches at Lahore). Two tests will be played in two phases. We are not sure how that benefits Bangladesh cricket? What added security such arrangement would ensure? Any T20 series will witness the ICC top ranked T20 team Pakistan up against 9th ranked Bangladesh and that too without two leading players all rounder Shakib Al Hasan and leading batsman Mushfiqur Rahim missing the series for different reasons. The first test will be played at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium from February 7 to 11 and lone ODI at National Stadium Karachi on April 3 and the Second test at Rawalpindi from April 5-9.
Bangladesh sent two different teams to Pakistan in not too distant past. Sri Lanka also played a complete series. Not advocating about safety in Pakistan. Not bringing any political bias in the equation. But if security is an issue in cricket playing international cricket in some other sub continental countries also are not totally safe. Cricket and for that matter all sports must be kept clean of politics.
PCB and BCB have announced the squad for T20 series which starts at Lahore from January 24.
Babar Azam (Captain), Ahsan Ali, Amad Butt, Haris Rauf, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Hasnain,Mohammad Rizwan (Wicket keeper), Musa Khan, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Usman Qadir
Mahmudullah Riad (Captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Naim Sheikh, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Liton Kumer Das, MD Mithun, Afif Hossain Dhrubo, Mahedi Hasan, Aminul Islam Biplob, Mustafizur Rahman, Shafiul Islam, Al-Amin Hossain, Rubel Hossain and Hasan Mahmud
Whatever be the ICC ranking judging from the recent forms of players selected for the shortest format the series appears to be heading for a mouth watering contest with neither team looking clear favorites.
Bangladesh included 5 pacers in anticipation of day night matches. But extremely cold weather in Lahore leveraged all matches played during the day. Bangladesh also included at least six front line batsmen who have recently opened innings for T20 franchise. We are not sure whether without Shakib, Mushfique and Saifuddin, Bangladesh can challenge Pakistan in Pakistan. But one must not forget in recent times Bangladesh competed well with strong India in T20 series where off course Mushfique played an important role. Lot will now rest on the shoulders of Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah for leading the batting. Soumya, Liton are fearless stroke makers. New comer Naim Sheikh is not far behind as explosive batting is concerned. Nazmul Shanto and Afiff Hosain also looked promising for a while. Mithun and Mahmudullah have to guide the middle order. But Bangladesh may feel the absence of a slogger in the death overs.
As far as the bowling is concerned Mustafiz would be the key. Rubel, Shafiul and Al Amin have to bowl out of their skin for restricting free flowing Pakistan batting. Mehedi Miraj, Aminul and Affif are expected to cater the spinning department. This team is expected to field well and better than Pakistan.
Pakistan on the other hand have recalled veteran Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafiz acknowledging the request of captain Babar Azam. Their presence would obviously give Pakistan batting solidity. Shahin Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf may be very difficult bowlers to deal with on Lahore wicket if it offers pace and bounce. Pakistan squad also has two leg spinners Shadab Khan and Usman Qadir. Pakistan squad contain some young batsmen including two debutants Ahsan Ali and Amad Butt. Batting would revolve around Babar ,Shoaib and Hafiz. However, new comers would have opportunity for redeeming.
It will be an opportunity for younger players of both sides for showcasing their talents for all important ICC T20 World later in the year in Australia.
T20 is often a gamble. It only requires one or two batsmen blasting and taking the match away from the opponent or one bowler bowling a magical spell .Both team have few doing that. Off course Pakistan for higher ranks and for playing in home condition starts favorite. But Bangladesh plays fearless cricket in the shorter version and can turn the table on the opponents.
BDST: 1127 HRS, JAN 23, 2020