Bangladesh will start their home series taking on newly crowned Azhar Ali’s youthful Pakistan on Friday in the first of the three-match ODI series at home of Bangladesh cricket, Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur.
The day-night match will start at 2:30 pm (local time) and 8:30 GMT.
After a successful campaign in the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, the high flying Bangladesh team is very much optimistic about overcoming their 16-year win drought against Pakistan. Bangladesh beat Pakistan once in any format of cricket in 1999 Cricket World cup in England.
The morale of Bengal Tigers moved up to a new height as BCB X1 side beat touring Pakistan team by one wicket in the lone warm-up match in Fatullah on Wednesday.
For the first time, Bangladesh could be a serious threat for Pakistan, particularly in the ODI series. As a whole, Pakistan lacks experiences, with only Mohammad Hafeez and Saeed Ajmal having more than 100 caps.
In a pre-match press briefing at Mirpur on Thursday, the stand in captain of Bangladesh OD1 team Shakib al Hasan expressed his determination to win the series against Pakistan. Bangladesh regular ODI captain Mashrafe missed the first ODI due to one match suspension.
Pakistani captain Azhar Ali said, “Our team studded with young cricketers, which is challenging in one side, otherwise, it will also be a good opportunity for our youngsters for exposures”
Earlier on Monday, Pakistan national cricket team, led by new ODI captain Azhar Ali arrived in the capital by a PIA flight to play a full-fledged series of three OD1’s, one T20 and two Test matches against the Bengal Tigers.
The remaining cricketers of the Pakistan team, selected for Test and T20 only, will join the team later on.
Bangladesh will play Pakistan in the remaining two ODI matches on April 19 and 22 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium (SBNCS) in Mirpur.
The lone T20 match will be held on April 24, after which the first Test match between the two teams will begin April 28 at the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium, Khulna. The teams will move back to Dhaka for the second Test match that will start on May 6 at SBNCS in Mirpur.
Bangladesh is the most stable side in the last 18 months. They achieved their target of reaching the World Cup quarterfinals. Mashrafe Mortaza is leading a side with the experience of Shakib Al Hasan, who will stand in as captain in the first ODI.
Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah are the experienced in-form batsmen, and there is reason to be excited by the likes of Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman and Nasir Hossain. A blazing century in the practice match against the Pakistanis put Sabbir Rahman in the limelight.
Rony Talukdar is likely to make his debut in the first ODI, leaving no space for Mominul Haque. Nasir has a chance if Bangladesh play eight batsmen. The team management is unlikely to pick Abul Hasan in the pace attack due to Mashrafe Mortaza's absence.
Bangladesh (probable) Tamim Iqbal, Rony Talukdar, Soumya Sarkar, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Taskin Ahmed, and Rubel Hossain
Now it is very interesting to watch how Pakistan will do without experienced Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi. It is a new era for them, led by Azhar Ali, who hasn't played an ODI since January 2013. A good number of new players like Sami Aslam, Saad Nasim and Mohammad Rizwan have been included.
Pakistan, however, possess a pace attack that would make most teams jealous: Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan will lead it, with Ehsan Adil and Rahat Ali as support. The injury to legspinner Yasir Shah is a blow, but they have Saad Nasim and Haris Sohail to bank on for slow bowling.
Pakistan (probable): Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali (capt), Haris Sohail, Saad Nasim, Fawad Alam, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan, Saeed Ajmal, Rahat Ali, and Ehsan Adil
The sour relationship between the BCB and the PCB will be put aside as Bangladesh and Pakistan play their first bilateral series since December 2011. During these last three years and four months, their off-field battles went nearly as far as cutting off ties, but the need of the hour - playing international cricket - brought them together.
Bangladesh cancelled two tours to Pakistan in one year, and the PCB barring its players from domestic competitions in Bangladesh. More recently, the PCB demanding a share of the revenue from Pakistan's 2015 tour of Bangladesh and, after many convoluted statements, BCB deciding to pay compensation for the cancelled tours in 2012, were points of contention.