On the back of Bangladesh's miserable 2021 T20 World Cup campaign, where they finished dead last in their Super 12 group with zero wins, it might seem like they'll be pushovers in the upcoming three-match T20I series against semi-finalists Pakistan.
However, when the first ball of the first T20I is bowled on Friday, November 19 in Dhaka, Pakistan will be wary of the threat Bangladesh possess at home. With series wins over Australia and New Zealand in the recent past, Bangladesh can certainly "punch above their weight" against an in-form Pakistan side that will be without key performers like Asif Ali and Imad Wasim.
The hosts themselves will miss the experienced trio of Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim, who will be replaced by a series of young top-order batters. Star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will also be a major absentee for Bangladesh, who will need to rely on their potent bowling attack to cause the Pakistan batters problems.
The T20 World Cup has set the stage for what promises to be an exciting series despite the two teams having finished on opposite ends of their respective Super 12 points tables.
Bangladesh vs Pakistan 1st T20I: Inexperienced Tigers look to continue excellent home form
Bangladesh managed without Shakib when they took on Australia and New Zealand, with a multi-pronged spin attack making the most of the slow, turning pitches on offer in the country. But Pakistan have much better players of spin than the two Tasman nations, and they also have the opening combination to make the most of the phase where batting is the easiest.
Against a hard new ball, few batters have been better than Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan in 2021. The duo will be smarting after a disappointing loss to Australia in the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup but their form isn't expected to show any signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, Fakhar Zaman and Shoaib Malik, who played the odd cameo in the marquee ICC event, will also be keen on piling on the runs.
Shadab Khan will not have his spin partner Wasim for company, but fresh off a magical four-wicket haul, the leg-spinner will be licking his lips at the prospect of bowling in Bangladesh. Hasan Ali, who experienced completely different fortunes in the semi-final, will have an eye on redemption at grounds where his cutters and slower balls are expected to find purchase.
While Bangladesh are a formidable side in home conditions, the form and well-roundedness of this Pakistan team might prove to be too much for them. The top order will be against a completely different caliber of bowling, with Shaheen Shah Afridi fresh off an excellent T20 World Cup campaign where he was consistently penetrative.
Pakistan should be able to recover from their close defeat in the T20 World Cup and take a 1-0 lead in the series, although certain aspects of their side will be seriously tested in Dhaka against the guile of Mahedi Hasan and Nasum Ahmed.
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Prediction: Pakistan to win the 1st T20I against Bangladesh