Preview, Pak vs Bang: Fast bowling a concern for Pakistan
By Mazher Arshad on September 25th, 2012

Since 2000, Bangladesh have played against 17 different international teams and, save Pakistan, they have beaten all [16] at least once.

While it is surprising that they have not won in 13 years and 37 international matches, what’s more surprising is never even once there came a possibility of No-Result (like rain) to end Pakistan’s constantly growing winning streak. When these teams meet on Tuesday in last group match of ICC World Twenty20, Bangladesh would hope to halt Pakistan’s run in such a way that their Run Rate go better than Pakistan’s to take them into Super Eight, otherwise only a win will not guarantee them a place in the next round.

Numbers, however, don’t depict that it hasn’t been a cakewalk for Pakistan lately when they were up against Bangladesh. In both the matches of Asia Cup this year, particularly in the Final, they were made to work hard so much so that, in Final, Bangladesh were just an inside or outside edge away from beating and ending their reign.

Pakistan has the history going in their favour, and they would want it is not re-written. They are astute enough to avoid complacency factor, but even then, playing at their full strength, a concern remains for Pakistan with their fast bowlers, a department which has not developed ever since rattled the by happenings of 28-8-10.

A decade ago, or even before departure of Aamir and Asif, it would be laughing matter to bother about Pakistan fast bowlers. Today, it is hard to even think of one pacer who looks a certain pick in the eleven, not even Umar Gul. The bowler, Junaid Khan, who had shown lot of promise recently is not part of the squad.  Sohail Tanvir rode his early success on his unusual action which, apparently, is picked now, and he has lost pace since knee surgery. Yasir Arafat does not enjoy the luxury of seaming tracks, like those in England that have yielded him wickets in county cricket. And for Mohammad Sami, only a man with mass prize-bond awards would risk his selection.

Eight of the 20 overs, which are more often than not spin-less, remain fear-factor for Pakistan, and considering it Pakistan’s Achilles heel, that’s where oppositions could target them, like Ross Taylor nearly did the other night. It is unlikely against Bangladesh though, but as they move into Super Eight and fast bowling problems don’t get fixed, it is just as possible that Pakistan bring in their fourth spinner, Raza Hassan, by replacing a fast bowler like Tanvir or Arafat.  And there is option of a part-timer spinner, Shoaib Malik, too without going for the fourth specialist.

Since fast bowlers are not delivering, it also exposes Pakistan’s weakness in depth overs. Ajmal would handle one end, the other remains vulnerable unless Umar Gul finds his trait back, the Yorkers.

When the things unfold, it will also be interesting to see how Bangladesh handle Pakistan spinners, Saeed Ajmal in particular, who is going to be tackled by insights from Bangladesh’s bowling coach Saqlain Mushtaq, the discoverer of Ajmal’s weapon [Doosra]. Bangladesh would depend a lot on their key players such as Tamim Iqbal, Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al-Hassan, two of them failed to make an impact in their last game, so they would hope such performances are not repeated.

Stats and Trivia

- Since 2000, Bangladesh have beaten every Test playing nation in International cricket but Pakistan.

- Pakistan have won 24 consecutive ODI Matches against Bangladesh, the most by any team against a particularly opposition.

- Highest score by a Pakistan batsman in Twenty20 Int.  is 87, and it was against Bangladesh by Misbah-ul-Haq in Karachi 2008.

- Pakistan’s highest partnership  for any wicket in Twenty20 Internationals is 142 (between Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt),  it came against Bangladesh in last ICC World Twenty20.

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