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Inspired Tigers eye final

  • Published at 10:01 pm September 25th, 2018
Bangladesh's Soumya Sarkar plays a shot during training in the UAE Tuesday BCB

The Tigers are believed to have been revived through the close Afghan victory and the inspiration could help them in the Pakistan encounter

Bangladesh will be boosted following their close win in the previous game as the side take on an unpredictable Pakistan in a vital fixture of the Asia Cup Wednesday in Abu Dhabi. 

The two teams are at level in the points table and the winner of this game will go through to play the final against India in Dubai Friday. Bangladesh have the winning momentum, having registered a three-run victory in a nail-biter against Afghanistan in their previous match. 

The result, that came riding on the heroics of all-rounder Mahmudullah, top-order batsman Imrul Kayes and left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman, is likely to lift the side which had made a winning start to the tournament. 

Bangladesh had come to the six-nation competition with the vision of playing the final and had an epic beginning, defeating Sri Lanka by 137 runs in the tournament opener. 

However, dealing with injuries and the harsh Middle Eastern weather, juxtaposed by the batting failures saw the Tigers struggle. The side conceded defeat against Afghanistan (in the group stage) and against India (in the Super Four round) to find themselves in a vulnerable situation.

The Tigers are believed to have been revived through the close Afghan victory and the inspiration could help them in the Pakistan encounter. Bangladesh are not likely to change the winning combination when the game is played on the same venue. 

However, based on the situation and requirements, the side might bring in at least two changes. Opener Nazmul Hossain Shanto might have to give his spot to the left-handed Soumya Sarkar, given that the former has not been able to live upto the team’s needs. 

Shanto had come in place of the injured Tamim Iqbal and made his debut in ODIs. But in the three matches he was tried, Shanto could add only 20 runs and his early departures made the Tigers top-order shaky. 

If Soumya is given the opportunity, it means he would be back to the starting XI in ODIs after almost a year, but only backed by his experience and the team’s needs and not form. The left-handed batsman was not part of the initial squad for the tournament and was brought to join the team in Dubai on an urgent basis, and under a peculiar selection process.

The second change might come through pacer Rubel Hossain coming back to the XI, pushing out spinner Nazmul Islam Apu, who made his ODI debut in the last game. 

The decision is likely to be based on the fact that Pakistan batsmen are good negotiators of the spinners, and an extra pacer will shed the work load of captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza and Mustafizur in the demanding conditions.

Meanwhile, Pakistan will look to get their bowling attack right before anything else. The side hold the reputation for the various bowlers they carry but recently, the Pakistanis have not been upto the mark. 

Seamer Mohammad Amir has been wicketless in the tournament, while pacer Hasan Ali has taken only three wickets at an average of 51.66. Leg-spinner Shadab Khan therefore, has to take up the responsibility against a Bangladesh batting line-up that can be susceptible against leg-spin.

As far as batting is concerned, runs have come only from the bat of Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq and against an efficient Bangladesh attack, they need to step up again.