Mirpur: Buoyed by their last-over win over arch-foes India, a rejuvenated Pakistan will look to seal a berth in the title clash as they lock horns with beleaguered hosts Bangladesh in their last round-robin Asia Cup match here on Tuesday.
The top two teams qualify for the summit clash and Pakistan, having collected nine points from three appearances, will go into the match as favourites. The momentum swung their way after 'boom boom' Shahid Afridi's enterprise laid India low at the Shere Bangla Stadium here last night.
For the record, Pakistan had lost to Sri Lanka in the tournament opener, before getting their campaign back on track with successive wins over Afghanistan and the big one against India. A win for Pakistan will only make things more difficult fort India, provided Sri Lanka lose both their remaining games against Afghanistan and Bangladesh, which seems highly unlikely.
India lost to Pakistan two days after their defeat to Sri Lanka. The Indians won their opener against Bangladesh, and their run-rate stands at -0.027 to Pakistan's +0.438. Reeling under two big defeats, including one against first-timers Afghanistan, Bangladesh would try and look to regain some lost glory against their famed opponents.
In One-day cricket, Bangladesh have upstaged Pakistan just once, that too way back in the 1999 World Cup in England. And again, Bangladesh, who played the final of the last edition, would be looking to prove that the loss to Afghanistan was a mere aberration and the side has the potential to humble stiffer opponents.
Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim would be happy to see the return of all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who was banned for lewd gestures by the country's cricket board. As far as Pakistan are concerned, they will be on a high after the positive result against India.
Mohammad Hafeez was back amongst runs, and that is a good news for Misbah-ul-Haq's team going into the business end of the competition. He has also been making significant contributions with the ball. Twice run-out in this tournament, Misbah would be hoping for a better luck and get some runs under his belt against the hapless host nation.
On the bowling front, pacer Umar Gul and spinner Saeed Ajmal would be leading the Pakistani attack. However, Pakistan would do well to guard against complacency.
Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Al-Amin Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Shafiul Islam, Naeem Islam, Rubel Hossain, Shakib-Al-Hasan, Ziaur Rahman, Abdur Razzak, Anamul Haque, Imrul Kayes, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Shamsur Rahman, Sohag Gazi, Shakib al Hasan.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Sharjeel Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Anwar Ali, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Talha, Abdur Rehman, Fawad Alam.