The cricket fever continues as Pakistan faces off against Bangladesh today in the highly anticipated opening match of the Super 4 round of the Asia Cup 2023. This thrilling encounter will take place at the iconic Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
In the preliminary stages, Pakistan displayed their dominance by securing the top spot in Group A with an impressive three points and an outstanding net run rate of 4.76. Meanwhile, Bangladesh held their ground in Group B, securing the second position with two points.
Led by the charismatic Babar Azam, the Pakistani team is set to participate in their third match of the tournament, marking their second appearance on home soil. The tournament opener against Nepal was held in Multan, and the much-anticipated Pakistan vs. India clash was unfortunately washed out in Palekelle due to rain.
In a notable lineup change, the Pakistani team has included fast-bowling all-rounder Fahim Ashraf, replacing Mohammad Nawaz. Nawaz had a challenging outing in the match against India, remaining wicketless while conceding 55 runs in his eight overs. In the game against Nepal, he managed to claim only one wicket for 13 runs in two overs. Faheem Ashraf, who last appeared in an ODI last month against Afghanistan, brings his valuable all-round capabilities to the team. In that match, he took two wickets in his eight overs. The rest of the playing XI remains unchanged from their previous match.
This encounter marks the first One Day International (ODI) meeting between Pakistan and Bangladesh since the 2019 World Cup.
In recent ODIs, Bangladesh has proven to be a formidable opponent, winning four out of their last five meetings. However, the two teams last clashed at the 2019 World Cup, where Pakistan emerged victorious with a commanding 94-run win. While Pakistan has dominated the rivalry in Tests and T20Is, the 50-over format is where Bangladesh showcases its strength.
Despite facing key player injuries, Bangladesh remains a smart and experienced group with a deep understanding of ODI cricket. Their recent victory against Afghanistan in Lahore underscores their adaptability to local conditions.
One of Pakistan’s concerns is the lack of an opener in Fakhar Zaman. Since his impressive three consecutive centuries against New Zealand in May, Fakhar has struggled, with scores of 19, 14, 33, 2, 30, 27, and 14 in his last seven ODI innings. His performance will be closely watched in this match.
Shoriful Islam, with a remarkable record of 30 wickets at an average of 24.93 in 19 ODIs, poses a threat to Pakistan’s top-order batsmen. Fresh from a three-wicket haul against Afghanistan, he could create problems with the new ball.
Litton Das, who has recovered from illness, is expected to return to the top order in place of the injured Najmul Hossain Shanto. It will be intriguing to see if he opens or if Mehidy Hasan Miraz, following his century against Afghanistan, retains the opening position.