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2019 was a historical year for Pakistan. Although they did not find much success on the field, there was more than that. Cricket returned to Pakistan after a long gap of more than ten years. Pakistan couldn't have expected a sweeter beginning to 2020 than it is now. Despite many obstacles, Bangladesh are finally touring Pakistan to play three T20Is as a part of long tour, which will be completed in three legs over a span of three months. While Pakistan are a stronger unit on paper, they have not had a great time of late. On the contrary, Bangladesh did pretty well aganinst India, but are without a couple of their their key players. Most of their players are coming off a brilliant run in Bangladesh Premier League and should enjoy playing the shortest format of the game. Both the sides have their strengths and weaknesses and the clash between the two should be a delight to watch for the fans. The first match of the series is to be played at 24th January at the Gadaffi Stadium, Lahore.
With Cricket World Cup not too far away, Pakistan have a lot of work to do. They had a poor World Cup as far as their performance is concerned. Before Misbah Ul Haq took charge of the management, Pakistan won 30 of their last 37 T20Is, but with the current management, they are yet to win a match. In 2019, Pakistan won just one T20I match and lost eight and their losses included three home defeats against a depleted Sri Lankan side.
Pakistan have decided to give their youth a try in this home series with the likes of Amad Butt, Ahsan Ali, and Haris Sohail included in the lineup. The youth and exuberance will be balanced by the presence of veterans in Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez. Haris Rauf exhibited fantastic pace bowling in Big Bash League and he will be looking to build on to his performance in international cricket as well.
Rauf picked up 16 wickets in Big Bash League and his average and economy rate of 11.56 and 6.89 respectively were spectacular to say the least. On paper, Pakistan appear to be having a reasonably balanced side with good combination of youth and experience. With Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, and Shoaib Malik in the lineup, their batting looks as good as ever. Although, their bowling is a bit inexperienced, they wouldn't be too worried considering the way their bowlers have been doing in T20s across the globe. Pakistan are playing at home and beating them won't be an easy task.
Ahsan Ali, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Iftikhar Ahmed, SI Wasim, Mohammad Rizwan, Shadab Khan, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain.
The biggest news from Bangladesh camp is the absence of Mushfiqur Rahim. Rahim opted out of the tour citing family's concerns. Alongside him, Bangladesh will be missing majority of their coaching staff that included Neil McKenzie. Without Mushfiqur, Bangladesh's batting certainly looks a bit less and the pressure on the likes of Mahmudullah and Tamim Iqbal will be immense. Having said that, they have plenty of talent available at their disposal and if they can get their batting order right, the absence of Rahim might not be felt as much as it looks on paper.
Just like Pakistan, Bangladesh, too, didn't have a good 2019. Although they did well against the Indians, they struggled in the year on the whole. Apart from Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah Riyadh, Mohammad Naim is likely to play a key role. His brilliant 81-run knock turned heads and his equally impressive run in BBL proved that his knock against India was not a fluke.
With the ball, Bangladesh looks settled with the likes of Mustafizur Rahman, Al Amin Hossain and Shafiul Islam. The presence of all-rounders in Mahmudullah, Soumya Sarkar, and Mahedi Hasan provides them with depth in the batting order without compromising with the variety with the ball.
Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Naim, Afif Hossain, Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, Aminul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain.
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They lost eight out of the ten matches they played and will be looking to turn it around and gain some momentum with ICC T20 World Cup right around the corner. Bangladesh, on the other hand, did well against India and most of their players are coming off a terrific run in domestic circuit. However, with Pakistan playing at home and experienced players back in the squad, form is likely to be of the least significance. Also, the absence of Mushfiqur Rahim could be a game changing difference. For those reasons, we think betting a Pakistan win would be the right way to go in the upcoming match.
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