ODI series preview: Bangladesh v Pakistan

Bangladesh

After an excellent series victory over Sri Lanka, Pakistan will be looking to keep their momentum going when they start the ODI series against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

After an excellent series victory over Sri Lanka, Pakistan will be looking to keep their momentum going when they start the ODI series against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

Despite some politics and controversies still dogging Pakistan cricket off the field, they have been more than exemplary in the ODI arena in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Bangladesh will have their work cut out for them as they have not beaten their fellow Asian nation since the 1999 World Cup in England.

A two-one home series defeat to the West Indies in October didn't make it any easier to instill some confidence in a young Bangladesh side, who will once again be captained by Mushfiqur Rahim.

There has also been some major personnel changes in the Bangladeshi side, with vice-captain Mohammad Mahmudullah back in the squad after recovering from illness, while Elias Sunny will also be keen to make his mark after being recalled. Despite being absent from the national side for over three years, all-rounder Farhad Reza has also forced his way back into the squad.

There were some standout performances in that series against the West Indies, with former captain Shakib Al Hasan coming to the fore with both bat and ball on occasion, while current captain Rahim was the only player to reach three figures.

Never short on bowlers, it will be the batsmen who need to step up for this series, especially in light of the way they failed to come to terms with Pakistan's bowling in the crushing Twenty20 defeat.

Pakistan by contrast are a far more settled unit, with Misbah-ul-Haq continuing to lead the team after the four-one ODI series win over Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates.

There is a recall to the squad for left-arm seamer Mohammad Khalil, who has been performing amicably on the domestic scene and, having not played for Pakistan since 2005, is delighted at the return – albeit at the expense of the injured Junaid Khan. The only other change is also in the bowling department as Mohammad Talha is given an opportunity in place of Wahab Riaz.

Umar Akmal has been scoring regular runs since his recall to the side and averaged over 50 against Sri Lanka, but the added pressure of possibly handling the wicketkeeping duties could be an extra burden too heavy for a young man still making his mark on international cricket, but there is plenty of batting support in the form of Imran Farhat, Younis Khan, Mohammad Hafeez and Misbah.

The bowlers, meanwhile, have been brilliant for Pakistan, with Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal well backed up by Hafeez, who is becoming a more permanent fixture in the bowling order. The trio shared 29 wickets between them against Sri Lanka and will no doubt be threatening on the Bangladeshi wickets.

<B>Key Men</b><Br><i>Bangladesh:</i> A danger with both bat and ball in hand makes <b>Shakib Al Hasan</b> a vital cog in the Bangladesh lineup, especially now that he no longer bears the burden of the captaincy. The left-armer was one of the few Bangladesh players able to hold his head up high after the two-one series defeat to the West Indies earlier this year as he picked up Man of the Match figures of four for 16 in the third ODI and scored 67 not out in the first ODI.

<i>Pakistan:</i> Whenever Pakistan play these days, one can expect former captain <b>Shahid Afridi</b> to be at the centre of the action. While his batting has dropped a long way since the days when he first joined the international scene, he is now a threat with the ball on almost any wicket and is up to number seven in the ICC rankings for ODI bowlers.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><Br>2010:Asia Cup: Pakistan won by 139 runs<br>2008: Asia Cup: Pakistan won by 10 wickets<br>2008: Kitply Cup: Pakistan won by 70 runs<br>2008: Fifth ODI: Pakistan won by 150 runs<br>2008: Fourth ODI: Pakistan won by seven wickets

<B>Prediction</b><BR>One would have to go back to the 1999 World Cup to find the last – and only – time Bangladesh defeated Pakistan in an ODI, when they won by 62 runs. Since then Pakistan have dominated their opponents by winning the next 19 clashes. With Pakistan coming into the series on the back of a victory over Sri Lanka coupled with the manner in which Bangladesh folded in the Twenty20 in Dhaka on Wednesday, it would be hard to see Pakistan losing this one espite their unpredictable nature.

<a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>Online betting</B></a> firm <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>Sky Bet</B></a> have Bangladesh at 10/1 to win the series. Visit Sky Bet for the latest <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>cricket betting</B></a>.

<B>Squads<br>Bangladesh:</b> Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Mohammad Mahmudullah, Abdur Razzak, Alok Kapali, Elias Sunny, Farhad Reza, Imrul Kayes, Naeem Islam, Nasir Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Shahriar Nafees, Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal.

<b>Pakistan</b> Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Aizaz Cheema, Asad Shafiq, Imran Farhat, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Khalil, Saeed Ajmal, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Younis Khan, Junaid Khan.

<B>Fixtures</b><Br>First ODI: 1 December, Dhaka<br>Second ODI: 3 December, Dhaka<Br>Third ODI: 6 December, Chittagong

<B>Justin Lawrence</B>

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