Asia Cup: Pakistan, Bangladesh lock horns in virtual semifinal

One of the two teams will be heading home after their final Super Four game at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium and given the backlash it received after the reverses against India, former world and Asian champion Pakistan will be eager to raise its game.

After its nine-wicket humiliation at the hands of India, coach Mickey Arthur said Pakistan has a huge task at hand when it faces a tricky Bangladesh in a virtual semifinal of the Asia Cup.   -  AP

Come Wednesday and the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi will be the centre of attraction for Asian cricket. Not because it will host its last Asia Cup encounter but more so since the last Super Four clash between Pakistan and Bangladesh will be a virtual semifinal.

With the winner of the tie set to face India in the final on Friday, Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes did his best to put the pressure on Pakistan, suffering what its coach Mickey Arthur referred to as “confidence crisis” after being demolished by India for the second time on Sunday night.

“Pakistan is the favourite for this game but that puts us in a nice position because they know we are a dangerous side. To go into that game as an underdog might work in our favour because we can really make that work,” Rhodes said on the sidelines of Bangladesh's optional training session at the ICC Academy here on Tuesday.

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“Their tournament has been interesting. They're possibly playing with lack of little bit of confidence and not quite the same confidence as they were in the Champions Trophy. They are still a very dangerous team on their day they can really put things together and play some good cricket. We are respectful to them as a team but we are also looking forward to the challenge. It'll be a great contest. We wanted to be in this position when we set off from Bangladesh; try and beat Pakistan and get through to a wonderful final against India.”

Shoaib Malik, the senior-most and only Pakistan batsman who has been consistent so far in the tournament, tried to play down the “favourites” tag. “Being a cricketer I don't believe in underdogs and favourites. On that particular day you play well you win. If two or three of your bowlers do well, batsmen do well. Whoever is in good form has the duty to perform and if that happens you do well,” Malik said.

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Both the teams have had a similar campaign so far in the tournament. Having lost badly to India – Pakistan twice while Bangladesh only in Super Four – both the teams kept themselves in the race for final with a last-over win against Afghanistan. While Malik made a meat of the 10 overs Pakistan required in the last over against Afghanistan, Mustafizur Rahman defended eights runs in the final over. It will be interesting to see which of India's neighbours is able to hold its nerves in the game that matters.

Match starts 5 p.m. IST

The teams (from)
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (Capt., w.k.), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Muhammad Nawaz, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Usman Shinwari, Shaheen Afridi. 

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (Capt.), Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim (W.K.), Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider Rony, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque.

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