Rain delays triseries opener

Pakistan would aim to stretch their unbeaten streak of 11 matches when they clash against Bangladesh in the tri-series opener on Sunday.

updated: June 10, 2008 12:06 IST
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Intermittent rain in Bangladesh has delayed the start of the opening match of the tri-nation series between Pakistan and Bangladesh in Mirpur.

India is the third team participating in the ODI series and would play their first match on Tuesday.

The Pakistan side would look to forget the unsavoury incident of detention of their teammate Mohammed Asif in Dubai and rather stretch their unbeaten streak of 11 matches.

Pakistan, led by young Shoaib Malik, had whitewashed Bangladesh at home 5-0 in April and look certain to assert their dominance though Malik termed the hosts as "tough customers" at home.

"On home conditions they play a lot better and we got to be careful about it. I want to win the first game, which would raise our confidence levels and we would know how to play in Bangladesh since we are playing here after a long time," Malik has said.

Bangladesh have not shown consistency but have put up fighting totals against both South Africa and Pakistan this year. However, they need to raise their game if they dream of upsetting their formidable rivals.

The hosts' performance would depend largely on the showing of their skipper Mohammed Ashraful and the top-order, which has been strengthened by the addition of wicket-keeper batsman Mushafiqur Rahim.

If their top-five batsmen could fire they can make a fight out of it.

However, it would enormous task for their bowlers to contain rival batting line-up studded with reliable Salman Butt at the top and Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf in the middle apart from hard hitters in Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi.

The hosts have dropped Junaid Siddque in favour of uncapped fast bowler Dolar Mahmud, who has been under the tutelage of Dennis Lille at MRF Pace academy.

Pakistan have a good attack even without detained Asif and banned Shoaib Akhtar as Sohail Tanir, highest wicket taker in the inaugural IPL, provides enough sting and potency to it.

Umar Gul is equally effective and Bazid Khan and Wahab Riaz give options to skipper Malik to field a balanced attack.

Every encounter assumes significance as only one league match against each side makes the win important and it plays a role in gaining a strong net run-rate, which may become crucial as the tournament progresses.

And looking at the strengths and weaknesses of both the teams, Pakistan undoubtedly start as favourite.

Bangladesh: Mohammad Ashraful (captain), Mashrafe Mortaza (vice-captain), Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, Aftab Ahmed, Abdur Razzak, Farhad Reza, Shahriar Nafees, Nazimuddin, Raqibul Hasan, Shahadat Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mehrab Hossain (jnr), Dolar Mahmud.

Pakistan: Shoaib Malik (captain), Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah-ul-Haq, Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal (wk), Sohail Khan, Umar Gul, Sohail Tanvir, Rao Iftikhar, Wahab Riaz, Fawad Alam, Bazid Khan, Naumanullah.

With PTI Inputs