After a few intense days of cricketing battle, we will witness a virtual semi-final of the Asia Cup 2018 when Pakistan meets Bangladesh in the final Super four game in Abu Dhabi. Both teams have been jolted after suffering huge defeats against India. However, both teams have an equal chance of qualifying for the final which is slated to be held on 28 September. The match is expected to be a humdinger after both teams managed to beat Afghanistan by a close margin.
Bangladesh started off their campaign with a resounding victory against Sri Lanka. However, they were jolted in the very next match against Afghanistan. They were beaten by a huge margin of 136 runs but still managed to get through to the Super 4 courtesy their victory against Sri Lanka in the opening clash of the tournament.
They lost their first Super 4 match against India. The Men in Blue is the most superior team in the tournament by far and it was evident from their performance against both Bangladesh and Pakistan. Bangladesh has been found wanting on a few occasions.
Asia Cup 2018: The final Super 4 match between Bangladesh and Pakistan can go down to the wire
It was only due to a sensational final over by Mustafizur Rahman which handed Bangladesh a thrilling victory. It was a good all-around effort from Bangladesh to register a come from behind victory. The three runs win has kept Bangladesh firmly in the competition. A victory today will ensure they go through to the final of the tournament against India.
Pakistan has been quite topsy-turvy in the tournament so far. The match against Afghanistan could have gone either way. However, it was the experience of Shoaib Malik which ensured Pakistan registered a hard-fought victory against Afghanistan by three wickets with three deliveries to spare. It was a special knock from Malik which dashed the hopes of Afghanistan.
The Men in Green have not played the best cricket in the tournament so far. Openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq haven’t scored runs on a consistent basis which has been a matter of concern for Pakistan in the tournament so far. The bowling department has also not risen to the occasion. Left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir has not lived up to his expectations and have not been able to bag the required wickets in the tournament.
The middle order has not scored enough runs to set a good platform for the lower order batters. It will be interesting to see how things pan out when the two teams meet later today.
Bangladesh- In the absence of Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh might opt to go with Soumya Sarkar. The rest of the playing XI is likely to remain the same.
Probable XI: Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mehidy Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Namzul Islam.
Pakistan- The poor form of Fakhar Zaman has been a matter of concern for Pakistan. However, given the impact, he had in the last year or so, he will retain his place.
Probable XI: Imam Ul Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi.
Pakistan is definitely ahead on paper. However, we have a gut feeling that Bangladesh might end up winning today. Bangladesh has a pretty good team to boast of and the all-around abilities should definitely help them in the knockout clash. Pakistan has been inconsistent but will look to play their A game in the virtual semi-final.