Bangladesh and Pakistan will square off in what is effectively a virtual semifinal in the last Super 4 game of the Asia Cup at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The Tigers kept their slim hopes of qualification alive with a thrilling final over win over Afghanistan, secured thanks to Mustafizur Rahman’s brilliance with the ball.
Afghanistan needed 8 to win from 6 balls, but Mustafizur held his nerve and conceded only 4 to knock Phil Simmons’ side out of the competition.
The win was a timely one for Bangladesh, whose confidence had taken a battering following two consecutive heavy defeats in the competition. This victory was a narrow one, but it was an encouraging one for Bangla fans, who have often seen their side lose their way in such situations.
Bangladesh’s batting had been an issue early in the competition, but they got their act together on Sunday, with opener Liton Das making 41 and the recalled Imrul Kayes scoring an unbeaten 72 batting at No.6
Pakistan, in the words of their own coach, are “suffering a confidence crisis” following their twin defeats against India. In Sunday’s game, their batting was an improvement on their group stage performance, but it only managed 237 in their allotted 50 overs. India raced to the target without breaking a sweat thanks to centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, with Pakistan’s much vaunted pace attack made to look horribly pedestrian.
A look at the best cricket betting tips indicates that Pakistan are still favourites for this clash. Bangladesh looked more uncomfortable against Afghanistan than Pakistan did, and the latter have far more experience playing in the UAE.
Mickey Arthur will be desperately hoping that Fakhar Zaman returns to form in this game. Zaman is the X-factor player for Pakistan, playing aggressively at the top, while the likes of Imam Ul Haq, Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik play around him. Unfortunately, he has struggled in this tournament, and his failures have meant slow starts for Pakistan.
Mohammad Amir was brought back against India, but appeared off colour. Young Shaheen Shah Afridi has been impressive, but the dropped catches off his bowling haven’t helped the teenager. Pakistan may consider giving Junaid Khan a go to bolster their bowling.
Failure to reach the final would reflect badly on coach Arthur. Pakistan, were favourites going into this tournament given that India were without star batsman Virat Kohli, but the reigning CT holders seemed to have fallen into old habits, with nothing really clicking for them in all three departments of the game.
Victory for Bangladesh would cement their claim to be Asia’s second strongest team, and would be a major boost for the Tigers ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Pakistan have won 31 of the 35 ODI’s between the two sides, but Bangladesh have won the last three internationals in this format, trouncing them 3-0 in a series at home.
The winner of this game, as mentioned above, will progress to the final against India in Dubai on Friday.